COLUMBUS "DUDE" MCGRIFF Columbus "Dude" McGriff Main < BACK

Columbus "Dude" McGriff, recently deceased, unsigned, unsung, nobody knew him for years; he's what we call the Lost Wireman--you've heard of the Philadelphia Wireman--well, Columbus was 'the lost wireman.' He was in some shows in '76-- before that people had seen the work in NYC; Robert Goulet bought some of the work, Mel Torme bought some of the work--they were at the hotel where Columbus--he was almost blind in one eye and the other one was glass--worked as a shoe shine man. When we started this show, Columbus was in perfect health. He was born dirt-poor, near a large plantation, dependent on that for work. Many families are not unhappy about that way of life, and Columbus was that way. Came from a family in Gadsden County, Florida, but right off from the beginning, they were working in the fields; he would go off, play with the other guys, but when he was five years old, his eye was punctured with a piece of wire. He cut his other eye, too, later on, but first he started with one good eye, and he had these huge hands and you can tell his work because of the tightness of the wire, then he had a few shows, nobody much heard of him, but he stayed in Cairo, Georgia, until his death very recently, the last day of last year...he was supposed to leave the hospital, but died that night. Blind completely in one eye and punctured in the other eye. He just couldn't see, so he would go around picking up scrap pieces of wire from the baling machine so that people wouldn't step on it with their feet--that was his job. How'd he find the wire?--he'd step on it: pick it up, to keep people from steppin' on it. But at the end of the day he'd come back with the wire and start building stuff, and he really built with wire all of his life.

Columbus started making toys. He made little cars and airplanes and trucks every way, he made them his whole life. He died at sixty years of age. To me, he is the best wire bender that we've seen. No one bends wires the way Columbus McGriff did. And I'll tell you why. He was known in Cairo Georgia as "Dude" McGriff. But I also came to find out that he was known to some as "Mr. Grip." Now, what does "Mr. Grip" mean? "Mr. Grip" means that Columbus had seriously strong hands and could take this steel bailing wire (like you and I could take a piece of kite string and wrap it around our finger), and curl it and pull it and curl it and pull it--any way he wanted to. Mostly, because his hands were twice the size around as mine. It's easy for me to spot a piece by Columbus McGriff because no one wound wire as tightly as he did. All steel. He's dead, he's gone, but what a wonderful legend: toys, animals, and the joy that he gave to children. I never saw a child that wouldn't immediately love and want to come over and pick up a Columbus McGriff toy, or sculpture. I call them toys because they were childlike, he was like a child.

A lot of these guys go quickly, know what I mean? In bad health, bad situations. Columbus choked to death, no excuse at all. He was in a little hospital.

-Jim Roche



Copyright 2005 Orange Hill Art Inc. Site Map Home Terms and Conditions


Jesse AaronBio   Ab The FlagmanBio   Josefina AguilarBio  
Butch AnthonyBio   Leroy Ramon ArchuletaBio   Felipe Benito ArchuletaBio  
Zebedee "Z.B." ArmstrongBio   Eldren M. (E.M.) BaileyBio   Rutherford Tubby BrownBio  
Archie ByronBio   Ned CartledgeBio   Elpida ChaconBio  
Maurice ClabaughBio   Chris ClarkBio   Raymond CoinsBio  
Silas DekindBio   Gerald "Creative" DePrieBio   Alva Gene DexheimerBio  
Thornton Dial, Sr.Bio   Sam DoyleBio   Larry EdmistonBio  
William FieldsBio   Howard FinsterBio   FitzBio  
Stanley GreerBio   Scott GriffinBio   Ralph GriffinBio  
Dilmus HallBio   Joe HardinBio   Lonnie HolleyBio  
A. HOPBio   Danny The Bucket Man HoskinsonBio   Kevin HouseBio  
Mr. ImaginationBio   Toby IveyBio   James Harold JenningsBio  
S.L. JonesBio   Clyde JonesBio   Mary KleinBio  
Maurice Geo. KlyneBio   C.M. LasterBio   Whitney LeeBio  
Joe LightBio   Ronald LockettBio   Sam MartinBio  
Willie MasseyBio   Johnnie McDonaldBio   Casey McGlynnBio  
Columbus "Dude" McGriffBio   Harold McNaronBio   R.A. MillerBio  
Joe MinterBio   Louis MonzaBio   Sister Gertrude MorganBio  
Karl MullenBio   James G. MundieBio   None NoneBio  
Ben ParmenterBio   R.A. ParsellesBio   B.F. PerkinsBio  
Aaron "Lefty" PetersBio   Elijah PierceBio   Missionary Mary ProctorBio  
Sarah RakesBio   Calvin RamseyBio   Roger RiceBio  
Prophet Royal RobertsonBio   Robert RuckmanBio   Valentine "Val" RussellBio  
Sean "Purl" SamoheylBio   O.L. SamuelsBio   Lorenzo ScottBio  
Mary T. SmithBio   Lewis SmithBio   Cedric SmithBio  
Joey SmollenBio   James A. "Buddy" SnipesBio   SokolskyBio  
Jimmy Lee SudduthBio   Willie James TickingBio   Mose TolliverBio  
Annie TolliverBio   John Henry ToneyBio   UnknownBio  
Hubert WaltersBio   Mertice WestBio   Grace WhiteBio  
J.D. WilkesBio   Ruby C. WilliamsBio   Purvis YoungBio  

Folk Art Drawing  Folk Art Furniture   Folk Art Mixed Media  Folk Art Painting  
Folk Art Printmaking  Folk Art Quilt   Folk Art Sculpture  Folk Art Sideshow Banners  
Orange Hill Artists, self-taught artists, folk artists, visionary artists, outsider artists
Folk Art Gallery  About Folk Art  Outsider Art Gallery  Visionary Art Gallery  Self-Taught Art Gallery  
Atlanta Folk Art Gallery  Outsider Art  Visionary Art  Self-Taught Art  Primitive Art  Naive Art  


Sports Tickets
Masters Badges and Ticket Packages