In the Kingdom of Dreams and Madness: Clark Ashton’s Druid Hill

“Art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” – Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park

Clark Ashton remembers the first time he saw him. There was a man who wore the three-piece white suit; he would hang out on the street corner, swinging a gold chain. To a young Ashton, this man was fascinating. The man who fearlessly stood out in the small town of Augusta, Georgia. He was unique, inimitable.

For a new generation, Ashton has become a similar figure, “that strange man over on Druid Hills road.” Each year, for the past twenty-four years, he has sat on a throne in his front yard, waving at local school children who are trapped in morning traffic. He is trying to show kids that it is okay to be different, that people can prosper in alternative lifestyles. In his view, independent thought and action are increasingly important in a highly regimented society. Most people react favourably, but a few laugh or yell. It doesn’t bother him. Ashton believes in what he is doing. Continue reading “In the Kingdom of Dreams and Madness: Clark Ashton’s Druid Hill

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Behind the Scenes: The Guy Hayes Collection

Hayes Dog in Cup
One of the treasures of the Guy Hayes collection. Pictured is a kitsch image of a puppy in a cream pitcher. Though taken earlier, this photo echoes the popular pet images of today (Image courtesy of the DeKalb History Center)

At first glance, the Guy Hayes Collection may look simple but take a second look. The photographs are a delightful look into everyday life in Georgia from the  1950’s to the mid-1960’s. The subjects are ranging: sporting events, gubernatorial races, the civil rights movement, etc. Hayes photographs reveal a changing America, a culture in constant flux.

After World War II, America became an economic and political behemoth, countered only by the Soviet Union. The economy was strong due to a continuation of the wartime industrial build-up. Young men, returning after the war, settled down, and created families; this resulted in the Baby Boomer generation. The landscape changed with suburbs expanding, rapidly becoming the preferred living areas for the rising middle class. The end of the war and new affluence meant that American families had increased leisure time. This created a new consumer culture around the television. More than ever before, Americans were fascinated celebrities. Outdoor recreation and parties, particularly food, became a way to advertise their newly affluent status.

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This photo is a self-portrait of photographer Guy Hayes taken in 1984 (DeKalb History Center)

Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: The Guy Hayes Collection”