James Harold Jennings at his compound

Born 1930, Died April 20, 1999
Lived Pinnacle, North Carolina

"The sun, the moon and the stars" artist lived in the hills of North Carolina, in a compound mainly made up of three old school buses. He carved and painted brightly colored figures (he's been quoted as saying he got the idea for which color to use by closing his eyes and rubbing them with his knuckles--the colors he sees are the ones he uses). His pieces often featured cowboys and Indians, or "tough girls" beating up and sitting on men.

James Harold's earlier work featured "mechanical" pieces with moving parts, but he made fewer of these as time went on.

"Folk Art World" with self-portrait

"Folk Art World with Black Bird"

James Harold was often quite difficult to visit. I've been told that if you approached his compound and he had the chain up blocking the driveway, that you should just move on. He carried a gun and had been known to shoot at unwanted visitors. If he wanted visitors, the chain was be down. When we went to see him, he gave us a long, rambling, repeated monologue about the "criminal element" in the folk art world, about his brother in law who was with the police, and how he no longer sells any artworks. Despite what James Harold said, his brother's wife Normie frequently picked up his latest work and sold it from her home.

James Harold took his own life on April 20, 1999. From what I've heard, he had become more and more upset about the upcoming changing of millennia, and I guess it just became too much for him. His unique perspective, and his beautiful works will be missed.

Folk Art World with self portrait


Willie Jinks
Levent Isik