Binford “Benny” Carter — 1943-2014

Binford “Benny” Carter

1943-2014
Mayodan, NC
Environment, Mixed media painter and sculptures

Benny Carter was a folk art force to be reckoned with. I will always think of him as this big, burly man with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

Benny Carter built for birds since the late 80s and his bird houses were anything but conventional. Colorful, eclectic, and judging by the nests we saw, even functional. He loved to shop flea markets and yardsales and put his findings to good use. Although he painted on more traditional material, like canvas, Benny said he rarely used it, and painted on most anything that was around. It’s not just the bluebirds, wrens and woodpeckers that enjoy his folk art, if you had the good fortune to walk into his house you would have seen that there’s plenty of pieces to adorn a human home, as well.

Benny began painting in 1991 after he was laid off from a copper mill in Pine Hall North Carolina, saying now that “I make art because I just have to.” He painted in extraordinary detail and creates colorful, satirical sculptures, massive birdhouses and clocks.

His home on Peach Orchard Road is filled with his paintings, and his property is a startling folk art environment worth a visit for itself.

Benny originally painted scenes of rural North Carolina in a primitive style. Over time his work has become very detailed and precise, his paintings taking many days to complete. His work includes miniature paintings, some no larger than 1 inch by 1 inch. His most collected works have been his renderings of New York City, including several capturing the destruction of September 11, 2001, and the memorials that grew from it.

Obituary, courtesy of the Winston-Salem Journal:

CARTER MAYODAN Binford Taylor Carter Jr. Nov. 29, 1943- Feb. 2, 2014 Binford Taylor (Benny) Carter Jr. died unexpectedly February 2, 2014, at his home near Mayodan, N.C. He was preceded in death by his wife, Teressa Craddock Carter, and by his parents, Binford Taylor Carter Sr. and Mary Young Carter of Madison. He is survived by a sister, Rebecca Paff (Rick) of Tobaccoville, N.C. He also is survived by special friends, Donna Lee and husband, Charles, whose many kindnesses were invaluable to him in recent years. Benny was born November 29, 1943, in High Point.

He grew up in Madison, surrounded by many relatives in a family-oriented, small-town culture where tobacco farming and Baptist religion were important. A 1962 graduate of Madison-Mayodan High School, he worked for many years as a supervisor at Halstead Metal Products, Inc., in Pine Hall, N.C. Benny began painting in 1991 after he was laid off from his job. He soon made a name for himself in the national and international art world. His paintings, decorative birdhouses, clocks, totems, metal sculptures and other works are what some people call outsider art or folk art. Benny preferred the term self-taught artist.

His works ranged from finely detailed miniatures to large yard-art pieces. He often used found objects in his art. A favorite theme was the New York City skyline and waterfront, often with the Statue of Liberty. He also depicted Biblical stories and farm scenes. A number of his works include the words “Buy Art.”

Benny and his art have been featured in several books, including “Self Taught, Outsider, and Folk Art,” by Betty-Carol Sellen with Cynthia J. Johanson; and “Light of the Spirit: Portraits of Southern Outsider Artists” by Karekin Goekjian and Robert Peacock. His works have been sold in many galleries and featured in exhibitions and collections across the nation, among them the American Visionary Museum of Art in Baltimore, Md.; The Puck, Art 54 and Toad Hall in New York City; the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, Va.; Palmer Museum of Art, Pennsylvania State University; the University of Michigan Art Museum; Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Montgomery, Ala., and numerous others.

A graveside service will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at Sardis Primitive Baptist Church, 2013 Sardis Church Road, Madison, with the Rev. Richard Stevens officiating. A reception will follow in the fellowship hall of Good News Baptist Church, 1215 West Academy Street in Madison. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Rockingham County Animal Shelter, 250 Cherokee Camp Road, Reidsville, NC, 27320, or Good News Baptist Church, 1215 West Academy Street, Madison, NC 27025. Colonial Funeral Home in Madison is serving the family. Condolences may be offered at www.colonialfh.net.

(Photos courtesy of Mike Murphy, Don Mayberger and Randy Mason, Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations & text © copyright 2006-2014 Kelly Ludwig, all rights reserved)

Bibliography

“Detour Art—Outsider, Folk Art, and Visionary Folk Art Environments Coast to Coast, Art and Photographs from the Collection of Kelly Ludwig” by Kelly Ludwig, Kansas City Star Books, 2007.

On DVD – Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, “Eastern Weaseling”, KCPT, Kansas City Public Television, 2002.

“20th Century American Folk, Self Taught, and Outsider Art” by Betty-Carol Sellen, Cynthia J. Johnson, Neal-Schuman Publishers, New York, 1993.

“American Folk Art, A Regional Reference” by Kristin G. Congdon and Kara Kelley Hallmark, ABC-CLIO Publishers, California, 2012.

“Light of the Spirit : Portraits of Southern Outsider Artists” by Karekin Goekjian and Robert Peacock, University of Mississippi Press, 1998.

“Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Environments” by Roger Manley and Mark Sloan, Aperture, New York, 1997.

“Self Taught, Outsider, and Folk Art—A guide to American Artists, Locations and Resources” by Betty-Carol Sellen with Cynthia J. Johnson, McFarland & Company, 2000.

“Wos Up Man?” Selections from the Joseph D. and Janet M. Sheen Collection of Self-taught Art”  by Joyce Henri Robinson, Palmer Museum of Art, 2005.

“Weird Carolina” by Roger Manley, Sterling Publishing Co. 2007.

“Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations Coast to Coast Travel-o-Pedia” by Randy Mason, et. al., Kansas City Star Books, 2009.