By SARAH BRADBURY
Jeff Felts of Mt. Olivet road, Pulaski, has been creating art from unlikely sources for the past year and a half. His front yard is a museum of sorts overflowing with his own creations made from colorful items like measuring cups, spoons, plates and other items that can be purchased at any dollar store.
Felts works as a custodian for Pulaski County Public Schools by day. He was awarded employee of the month in May 2008 and has a great relationship with the students at the school. Although Felts is a dedicated employee, his first love is art.
Felts says he has been creating art for as long as he can remember. “Going to school as a little kid,” Felts said, “instead of listening to the teacher, I was always scribbling and drawing and I’ve been at it ever since.”
Felts said his first artistic job came in 1973 when he was asked to design his high school yearbook cover. Since then he has expanded his artistic repertoire to include works such as sculptures and murals, of which he has created about 15 for local churches, among other places throughout Pulaski, Montgomery, and Floyd counties. He has specialized in children’s animation, like the colorful Veggie Tales mural in Pulaski’s Emmanuel Christian Bookstore.
While Felts will sell items, he prefers to create on his own terms, versus doing commission work, which he says is “more like a job than enjoyment. I like to be able to enjoy my art.”
Felts explains that he always wanted to get into sculpting work. He said he once saw a magazine in which people used rakes, automobiles, and welded items to make art, which gave him the idea that manifested itself in his beautiful outdoor gallery.
“I’ve found rocks and fallen wood all over the area that I use when sculpting,” said Felts. He is inspired by nature and loves animals. “I think about a time that was much simpler,” Felts said, “and wonder what life was like in America before the commercialism you see now.” He said he wanted to find a way to merge his love of animals and nature with his love of art.
Felts has spent time reading various bird books to learn how to attract them. He created a habitat for birds and other wildlife on the hillside beside his home. Since he knew from his research that birds and other animals are attracted to natural things, he feared his sculptures would scare them away, so he placed them on either side of the habitat. “They don’t seem to mind it,” said Felts. “They seem to love color.”
Felts’ sculptures are mobile enough to be changed around every year, which will keep him busy. Even though he has been creating this outdoor gallery for about a year and a half, Felts explained, “it will never be finished. It’s a continuing work in progress.”
Inside Felts’ home studio are hundreds of pencil drawings and paintings adorning the walls. There are also many beautiful Native American drawings on display, further showing his versatility.
Felts says people who love the outdoors and the natural simplicities of life are drawn to his artwork, but there is something for everyone.
Felts attributes his love of art first to God and second to Mrs. Edna Love, his high school art teacher. “She always gave me the leeway to do what came to me,” explained Felts, “not to worry about what others think.”
“The good Lord has blessed me,” said Felts, “and as long as I can keep in art supply, I’m happy and at peace.