Folk artist remembered

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WADLEY, Ga. --- One of Jefferson County's prominent folk artists is being remembered as a kind man with exceptional talent.

Wadley artist Willie Tarver, who died last week  Special
Special
Wadley artist Willie Tarver, who died last week

Willie Tarver, 78, died Friday at his home in Wadley.

"He and his wife are two of the finest people I know. He is going to be missed," said Beth Moore, a neighbor of about 30 years. "He was a good man. He really was. He was just always so nice. He was an exceptional artist. His work is just so unique."

Nicole McLeod, the director of marketing for the Morris Museum of Art, said a welded metal and enamel paint piece was given to the museum in 2008 by a donor. It's of a dragon but is untitled, she said.

"This and others have been on display a few times over the years," she said. "He was also a featured artist at the Morris' Folk Art Fest five years ago."

There is art work he created for an area in Atlanta when the Olympics were held there. It's called Tarver's Folk Art Park and is on the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Baker Street.

There are also works of his on permanent display around the county. Louisville Academy displays two of his sculptures in a garden area with other sculptures. One is of a dragon. The other is a metal eagle.

Moore and her son, Tim, remember Tarver driving a truck that the artist had made to look like an airplane. He put wings on the vehicle and painted it black, she said.

"He drove it around all over the place," she said.

Before Tarver died from lung cancer at home, one of his sons, Monroe Tarver said there had been two or three recent hospital stays.

Monroe said his father had work as far away as Washington, D.C.; Atlanta and Florida. He had exhibited at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Monroe said.

"Canadian television did a documentary and came down and stayed over three days," Monroe said, adding that the crew slept in a Winnebago.

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