The Bean Stalk Artist

Micki Cottle

I haven’t seen him in more years than I care to admit. Time passes, flies, well you know. Even so, oh my, he still strolls into my mind now and then. And I smile when I think of him, the Bean Stick Artist.

Adolph Farrior of the Charity community, east of sleepy Rose Hill had been carving and using sweet gum branches for many years when I knew him in the middle eighties. Somebody did a story on him then, pictures, the works. He deserved it.

It seems Adolph first realized he had a deep yearning in him to create something different, when he picked up a bean stick (sweet gum branch), rubbed it gently and slowly began experimenting with his pocket knife. With a small cut here and a twist there he soon became so involved that he began to spend every minute he wasn’t working elsewhere, creating “something beautiful” something from nothing much. Just a dream somewhere this side of heaven that kept him awake at night.

Finally, after a lot of nicked fingers, endless work and imagination; Adolph carved, yup, carved….and constructed a house, complete with screened-in-windows and a stairway leading to a balcony on top. The handrail for the stairs was made from grape vine stalks approximately one inch in diameter. This project took Adolph six years of hard work. He was a Noah. He cemented the floor, and in one corner gently placed a (homemade) crib, waiting for the baby his wife promised was soon to arrive.

The bean stick house was a dream- come- true. So was the harp he made completely made from sticks and the strings of an old piano; a love seat, planters, Flintstone car, chairs, ashtrays, and eventually another house.

Adolph had always been a simple man in his heart, and the perfect beauty of nature had always struck that restless,“Da Vinci’ chord deep within him. He nourished his desire to use natural things to bring his art to life.

Carved figures so real they seemed alive. Hearth brooms. My mother who knew a hearth broom when she saw one, thought they were perfect. The natural shapes of cypress knees showed their magic to Adolph, and he showed their magic to those of us who could not see the things he could see.

Adolph finally displayed and sold his works in a number of craft shows over those years that I knew him. But mostly he worked and learned and yielded his mind to the possibilities within his heart. For a while some of his bean stick displays were on display at the NC Museum of History in Raleigh.

His name was recommended for biographical inclusion in the twelfth edition of “Personalities of the South” which recognizes outstanding southerners, and dreamers who made a difference.

Adolph’s simplicity echoed his art style, a special kind of art to be sure. An art encouraged by nature as seen through the eyes of a willing student of life who eagerly blended his talent with God’s beauty.

So, I think of him now, something I do when an uncertain mood settles over me. I imagine where he is and hope the storms of life have been gentle along his path. Of course there’s not too much you can do to change the direction of things, and none of us can go back. So, as time shakes us and moves us here and there, I am content to remember him just as he was long ago. A creator of lovely things, an artist of life, sitting high above in his house of “golden sticks.”