HAMBONE was born in the spring of 1956 in a Louisiana Sanitarium (yep...you heard that right!).
Who is Hambone? There is a level of mystery and an aura of intrigue to the name the artist has chosen for the signature on his paintings. He finds that it elicits a raised eyebrow or at the very least some level of curiosity. Here is an artist whose expressive style of painting scenes from the Old South can best be described as “folk art,” a genre that is without pretension and representative of a way of life that is rapidly fading away. For many it has an evocative quality, bringing back a flood of memories. In Hambone’s own words, “When you find your memory in one of my paintings, I will have done my job.”
HAMBONE is listed in the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center under "The Metoyer Descendants" of "Marie Thereze Coincoin". Hambone is directly listed under Nicoles Augustin Metoyer, born on Jan 22, 1768 in Natchitoches Parish, LA., and died on Dec. 19, 1856 in Isle Brevelle, Nactchitoches, LA. He was the son of Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer and Marie Thereze Coincoin. Nicolas Augustin Metoyer is listed as Hambone's 5th Great Uncle. The Cane River Creole began in Natchitoches, Louisiana in 1768 with the birth of twins, Nicolas Augustin Metoyer and his sister Marie Suzanne Metoyer. The people of the Cane River colony led by Augustin established what may well be the oldest church built by and for gree people of color in the United States. The church was built in 1803 on isle Brevelle on the plantation of Augustin Metoyer. This plantation now known as Melrose Plantation in Melrose, LA is well known as the home of Clementine Hunter where she lived till her death. Louisiana Creoles are people of varying mixture of red, white and black racial heritage largely descended from the colonial white (European), slave black (African), and indigenous red (Native American) races from the time before Louisiana became a possession of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase (1803).
HAMONE is a self-taught blend of Creole-Choctaw who grew up in the bayou country of Louisiana. Hambone's characters and stores in his paintings depict the colorful and rich history of the Deep South. At a time when many of the values and traditions of both societies, including their arts, were still very much an integral part of life. But for Hambone, it was not until well into his mature years that he began to realize his God given natural talent for painting. Since that discovery, all of the images stored since childhood has poured out in his distinctive style that some compare to as a cross between Grandma Moses. Hambone's natural talent's also cover much more than just painting...he is also known for his ablility to sculpt and create his story character's in Bronze works. He is also the author and artist of his cook book, "Hambone Folk Art & Recipes" by Hambone.
Fanciful, nostalgic, primitive and compelling are just a few of the adjectives used to describe a Hambone painting. Each painting is highly detailed. Action is the rule. There are numerous characters, always chocolate or sometimes black in color and faceless, engaged in varied activities – cooking, preparing vegetables, cleaning fish, playing a banjo, sweeping the floor, washing clothes or performing other daily chores. And in most Hambone paintings, somewhere amid the action, there are two distinct Hambone icons - a black cat and a blue jay. They are incorporated into the spirit of the scene, so it often takes the viewer a bit of time to find them.
Because Hambone’s compositions present so much activity, as to almost be overwhelming, the first time viewer often does not know where to look first. One must keep in mind that the entire mélange is connected and is telling a story. There is a deep message in all of the action. Each figure is only one small part of a larger whole, as the painting is intended to represent the spirit of Creole culture.
Working in acrylic on canvas, Hambone is able to portray his characters with amazing clarity of form, and his level of detail is intense. His style is essentially two dimensional, which is what gives it a primitive look, but the quality of his workmanship and the attention to authenticity in clothing, implements and architecture far outweigh the stylized childlike nature of his imagery. The reality of life, as portrayed in his paintings is what stirs the emotions of those who are familiar with the subject. “Many people will come up to me at a show and tell me that a particular painting brings them back to their childhood" and Hambone is so pleased that his art has struck a chord with someone.
What makes a Hambone painting even more amazing than its rendering of accurate detail is the fact that the artist does not sketch any part in advance of panting. “It is all in my head. I just begin to paint without any planning and somehow it happens.” It is here that the sophistication of Hambone’s talent emerges, as he simply builds an intensive story purely out of memory.
Hambone has become recognized as one of America’s foremost artists, lauded at exhibitions and in the press for his straightforward portrayal of the African-American way of life in the Old South. Collectors worldwide have come to appreciate his unique and expressive style, making him a one of a kind artist who tells us of an era that is fading from history.