Bumper Chicken photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Bumper Chicken photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

An enormous silver chicken glistening in the pouring rain caught my eye as I motored down highway 231 near Brundidge, Alabama. The artistic fowl announced the existence of Art`wurks, located in an unassertive block building, and in which I assumed I would discover a collection of local folk art.

The chicken was revealed to be a 13 foot rooster made of car bumpers, and upon closer inspection, I discovered that the art inside the unassuming building was extraordinary and world class work by multi-faceted artist Larry Godwin. Cathy Culpepper, the curator and well-versed authority on Godwin guided me through the small building, which was overflowing with one fine example after another of creations showcasing the breadth and proficiency of this amazing artist. Expertly executed and colorful abstract oil paintings were accompanied by numerous examples of contemporary metal sculpture, alive with movement, and stack after stack of drawings and prints, which disclosed a lifetime of devotion to his passion.

Lawyer Series photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Lawyer Series photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

A series of uncomplimentary, satirical clay figures of lawyers filled a stair-stepped wooden structure in the studio. The disappointing outcome from a family legal battle inspired Godwin to pursue in-depth legal knowledge, which in turn prompted him to create the series. The unflattering, but whimsical busts revealed in vivid detail his disdain for the profession. It is unclear as to whether or not the legal judgment Godwin received was just, but he no doubt worked through much of his “scorn” during the creation of the disparaging statues.

How was it possible that I had never heard of this remarkable artist or seen any of his exceptional work? I managed to recover from the embarrassment at my ignorance to learn that he had begun a lifelong love affair with the arts, when at an early age he was introduced to paint by a childhood teacher. During his high school years he created large animal sculptures for parade floats, which served to advertise his father’s feed business, and subsequently became the “go to” person in the area for all creative projects. Godwin earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree from Auburn University in 1957, and after a tour in the army and some time spent in Europe, returned to the Brundidge area to work fulltime as an artist and to spend some years teaching arts in the local school system.

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Godwin’s work, which encompasses concrete, copper, bronze, steel, aluminum, water, clay, paint, charcoal and smoke, continues to evolve. A fascination with fountain technology and the environment has insured that his designs be included in the beginning stages of many architectural projects throughout the state of Alabama.

A stainless steel replica of the Wright Flyer at Maxwell Air Force Base was perhaps his first significant sculptural creation, but many more were to follow. There are also a number of sculptures around Montgomery to his credit. They include the Equinox concrete and aluminum sculpture at Alabama State University that measures 50 feet square by 24 feet high; the Wall of History in downtown, which depicts the history of the city of Montgomery in six bronze panels; an 11-foot high sculpture at the Montgomery Cardiovascular Institute; and sculptures and fountains at the city’s Eastdale Mall. Mr. Godwin has also created work for Walt Disney World, The Hard Rock Café in Chicago, Ill., and the city of Headland, Ala., and one of his favorite sculptures is the statue of Wilbur Wright at Wright-Patterson AFB.

Larry Godwin’s Art’wurks Studio is located 3514 Highway 231, Brundidge, AL. (334) 735-2347

Oil Painting by Larry Godwin, photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Oil Painting by Larry Godwin, photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

8 thoughts on “You Can’t Judge the Art by the Chicken by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

  1. Michael boyle

    I have passed through Brundage many times and have stopped there every chance I get. It’s just amazing to find this creative passion in an unlikely spot. I actually was invited to look at his workshop in the Downtown area. I recommend anyone driving through on 231 to stop and look and possibly buy some of this creative work!

  2. christie emery

    Hi,

    I was wondering if you had any specific information, about the work that Larry Godwin did at Walt Disney World? I have been unable to find any reference to the work that he has done there?

    1. Christie,

      I’m so sorry I don’t have any information about the work at Disney World. I just tried his web site to seek information, but it must be under rennovation. You might call the telephone number listed at the end of the piece and if you don’t reach someone, leave a detailed message for them to return your call. I know he was getting a really sharp person to help him with his marketing, and I’m certain if you persist you will find what you want. Sorry I can’t be more help.

  3. Cathy Culpepper

    My Dear Deborah,
    Larry Godwin’s Mother passed away a few weeks ago, she was one hundred years and five months old. She became his priority (he took care of her at home with the assistance of caregivers), his art took a side seat the last couple of years. For those of us, who have lost our Mothers, we share his grief, and our prayers are forever with him.

    You write, like Larry Godwin paints and sculpts, thank you…thank you…thank you…

    Curator, Art Wurks Gallery
    P.S. Our Tango is not at last, the music continues with the loss of loved ones, the concerns of those we care about, and the strength to continue creating beautiful art.

    1. Cathy, Thank you for letting us know about Larry’s recent loss. Hopefully he will use his amazing talent to help him through it. I also hope that you are currently in pursuit of your own artistic endeavors. All the best to you on that quest!

  4. Rachel Farmer

    A creative mind and skilled hands. He’s an Alabama treasure. Thanks for the story!

  5. Mary Golden

    Thanks for writing this up. I have driven past the site many, many times on my way from Montgomery to Florida but was never tempted to stop since, I too, thought the work would be too “folky”. It’ll certainly stop on the next trip.

  6. Mona Sides Smith

    Fun and funny. Thanks for presenting it to us.

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