Art Matters (April 2017)
By Carolyn Wright
The LONA Gallery
I am always amazed by an artist or individual’s creative spirit, how they come to create what they create, to do what they do and have the courage to share it with others.
Over the last couple of years, I have kept in touch with Ann and Mr. Williams and have come to learn more about the man behind the birdhouses. It’s always enlightening to learn what drives a creative person to create. Ray was born April 22, 1924. His first exposure to woodworking came about watching his uncle and grandfather make baskets and other wood items for the community, so you might say Ray has sawdust in his blood.
Ray, an army veteran, was wounded in service to our country. He spent time in California, the Philippines and Texas where he performed several different jobs during his tour of duty. One of the most rewarding he relates, “was being trained to work as a medic, helping other wounded soldiers.” After the army, Ray trained for and became a short order cook, spent time working at a table factory where he further honed his woodworking skills and retired from a position in the janitorial service industry. Ray married Myrtle King and together they raised two boys (Robert Ray Jr. and Jeffrey Boyd) and two girls (Mary Evelyn and Ann). Ann tells me her dad made several pieces of furniture, including a stereo cabinet when she was a young girl. However, Ray says he was “too busy raising a family to remember much about his wood projects at that time.”
It was not until 2003, after his retirement and “boredom set in” that Mr. Williams decided to dust off his woodworking tools and get busy making birdhouses! Upon seeing his handiwork, Ann decided she would help her dad decorate the houses. Her first efforts she says, were not her best. However, she has worked diligently, praying for guidance before starting to decorate each birdhouse and now she is happy with the results. Ann says “God is in this” and 33 amazing birdhouses later, I would have to agree!
Carolyn Wright is an Atlanta native and a resident of Snellville, Georgia since 1987. Carolyn describes herself as a lover of art, world traveler and a student of life. She and her sister Sylvia Culberson own The LONA Gallery located on the square in Historic Downtown Lawrenceville. For more information visit thelonagallery.com
(Published April 2017)