Every morning, I spend a good hour or so perusing the local media sites, looking for the stories most relevant to the folks of Genesee County. Links to those articles are then included in our Regional Headlines section down here to the right.
Often, there's that one story that deserves more than a cursory mention. For a while now, I've wanted to pick out that one article or news clip that deserved a bit more attention and bring it to you in the full light of our central blog well.
Today is the day we start that service. We hope you enjoy it.
An article this morning in the Buffalo News tells the story of a young man from a small town on the northern shore of Lake Erie. Reporter Chairty Vogel writes the tale with a sure hand and finesse enough to make it come alive.
He burned with artistic fire. But he lived a tough life, and died at a heartbreakingly young age.
Asa Ames was, in many ways, the James Dean of American folk art.
And he lived his entire life — just 27 years — right here in Western New York, in the Town of Evans, where today his simple slab tombstone lies toppled over in a country graveyard, crumbling and neglected.
That was in 1851. Now, Ames will be honored in an exhibit at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.
Vogel truly does a tremendous job with this story, which she recognizes as much more than a tragic tale of a talented young man who died too soon. This is the story of undiscovered talent—small town talent—that Vogel so aptly describes as "hauntingly personal." Ames was working outside of the mainstream, away from the city centers in a medium—wood—that was for the most part unappreciated at the time. He is the quintessential outsider. Like Georg Büchner and Henry Darger, Ames was not understood by the insiders until long after his death. And as Vogel tells us near the end of her article, Ames remains something of enigma, even today.