Last year, the Kentuck Festival of the Arts was “My Pathway to Art”, but this year it was time to expand my horizon. The festival is held annually in Northport, Alabama, where artists are invited to showcase and sell their art. Again this year, I enjoyed seeing an array of new artists. and to my surprise, I saw the artist I interviewed last year, William MacGavin III, so my friends Kaylee and Derrick and I stopped by his booth to say hello. He seemed delighted to see our faces, even though it took him a moment or two to recognize us.
We stopped to meet Fred Conlon first, so Derrick could interview him. Conlon makes what he calls “garden art,” which kind of reminded me of a Disney Pixar character. For some reason, he has a strong dislike towards garden gnomes and lawn flamingos. He created a collection he calls the “Gnome Be Gones”. Conlon actually gave Derrick a garden art magnet, it was actually pretty cool. I tried to take it from Derrick but it was so sharp and I wasn’t paying attention to how I was holding it that it kept poking and scratching me . . . so I gave it back.
Next, we visited Jake Asuit, a mixed media artist, from Jake 2 Jake Custom Knives. One of my former classmates called him “an extreme handyman.” Asuit wasn’t always this amazing knife maker we see today.
“I used to be a knife collector. and I’m a stone mason by trade. And when the construction went down, I started to sell off my knife collection,” Asuit said.
Asuit’s son wasn’t so keen on his dad selling off his inheritance. He noticed that his dad’s knife collection was selling well. He suggested to Asuit that they learn to make them (knives) themselves. They did some research bought a bunch of equipment.
“I haven’t looked back since,” Asuit stated.
Asuit has been making and selling his knives for six years now. He puts in twenty hours for each knife, on average. I asked if his wife made knives with him, and he replied, “She helps me make the sheaths.” She expressed that she likes having all her fingers. Though Asuit is not missing any fingers, now, he has lost the same finger twice.
The coolest thing about Asuit’s knives is that they are made with the most exotic things I’ve ever heard of. He uses materials like “mermaid bone, colored giraffe bone, jasper, rams horn and woolly mammoth tooth.” Absolutely mind-blowing! I’m not sure if he gets all his materials from Siberia but those materials were imported from there.
(Do not be fooled by “mermaid bone,” though. According to my amazing, but dream-crushing creative writing teacher, mermaids are not real. Apparently, they are just mythical creatures. “Mermaid bone” is simply black/white pearl or walrus bone.)
After my talk with Jake Asuit, we visited Peter Loose, for Kaylee to interview him. I kind of want to call him “the chicken guy.” All I remember about his art was chickens and farm animals. He told Kaylee, “My art still looks the same as it did when I was a kid,” and that they represented all the animals he lived with as a child. We also got to pin stars on his dad, it was his 80th birthday. It was really sweet.
Jake Asuit was a really cool guy. (I think he had to be the best artist of all three.) He actually gave me a souvenir: a knife made out of a railroad spike, with a card that describes the knife briefly. I asked him for a quote that he lived by or that he would consider inspirational.
He replied, “Be creative.”