Standing in a Ring of Fire

Lawyer Eades is now hailed as folk artist Eades
Robert Oren Eades’ first art show was at Hickory Museum of Art in 2006.
“I sold all my stuff and had fun,” Eades said.
That day was pivotal — Eades closed his law practice and turned his attention to art — 3-D folk art.
As a resident of Sherrills Ford, Eades spends his days creating more folk art in 3-D.
Eades recalls a childhood of drawing and always making things.
“I don’t recall taking art lessons,” Eades said.
Eades also serves as an ambassador to connect the Sherrills Ford community to the Hickory Museum of Art and vice versa — connect Hickory Museum of Art to the Sherrills Ford community.
Many of his pieces feature snakes — a popular image among folk artists. Three years ago, he started painting, and now visitors to the museum’s recent exhibit, Discover Folk Art, are in for a treat.
“This is the second thing I’ve painted,” Eades said as put the finishing touches on his part of the folk art exhibit.
Eades painted the walls and doors of a small room that is accessible from the mezzanine — where the entire Discover Folk Art exhibit is.
One can enter from the mezzanine through a small door, or through the freight elevator doors. Either way, the impact is stunning and startling.
“I call it ‘Ring of Fire,’” Eades said. “It’s all things I learned in Sunday school at Olivet Baptist [Church, in Catawba].”
The colors are strong and depict Bible verses and characters. Eades said he always paints this way.
“I wanted to paint about temptation and our struggle to do the right thing,” he said. “Naming it ‘Ring of Fire’ is perfect.
“Then, I learned I could play music in the room ... perfect,” Eades added. “All of the music is about man and woman, since in life, that’s a struggle and temptation. My people are all standing in a ring of fire.”
And, of course, Johnny Cash sings “Ring of Fire.”
The inside door of the elevator, which is one entire side of the room, is an enlarged picture of text taken from the Eades’ family Bible in the 1840s.
The references on the walls are taken from Scripture and refer to Bathsheba and King David, Ezekiel, Nebuchadnezzar and more.
“I encourage everyone to come up to the museum and see the exhibit,” Eades said. “The entire mezzanine is filled with Southern Folk Art.”
The Lake Norman Folk Art Festival actually kicks off Friday, Sept. 30, at Hickory Museum of Art, from 6-9 p.m.
Meet the artists Friday at the Museum’s Friday Folk Art Festivity. Tickets are $30 and include “Kocktails and Nibbles,” a “Kicked-Up Komfort Supper,” jammin’ good blues with Pops Ferguson and a silent auction.
Don’t wait, though — tickets are advance purchase only and are $30 each. More than a dozen artists from Saturday’s festival on Lake Norman will be on hand to discuss their work.