We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to bid on and procure a fine cane carved, signed, and dated in 1991 by Herman Hayes, a West Virginia born carver and Methodist Minister. The cane is an intricately carved piece with minimal black paint that appears to be basswood or buckeye, both light woods and favorites of Hayes who frequently leaves his carvings devoid of any paint.
The carving consists of people, snakes, egyptian birds, fish, crosses, daggers, stars, ... in an over lapping spiral motif. The handle contains a multi-faced "ball" in a cage adeptly carved and tinted in an rusty orange shade. The entire piece is well considered and finely carved.
We first saw Hayes' work as represented in the Lampell book "O Appalachia." Eason Eige retired director of the Huntington Museum of Art, West Virginia selected examples of Hayes' work for inclusion in the exhibits "O Appalachia" and later, "By the People: American 19th and 20th Century Art of the Folk and Self Taught."
We met Reverend Hayes at the opening of the exhibit "By the People: American 19th and 20th Century Art of the Folk and Self Taught." He was one of the few artists represented, including Minnie and Garland Adkins, and Hazel Kinney, who attended the opening that night at the Huntington Museum of Art.
That night, we recall seeing a piece titled "Sunday Meeting" which was a circular arena, comprised of popsicle sticks, which held a small congregation of intricately carved church members, musicians, and the preacher at his podium with bible and verse. There, too, was a chess set and board with finely detailed carvings of contrasting lynn and poplar woods.
The museum's permanent collection includes a "Tower of Babel" with minions moving and placing the stones which comprise the tower.
The cane in our collection was selected from Hayes' work by Eige for his personal collection. It was offered for sale at the auction of Mr. Eige's private collection held at Garth's Art & Antiques Auction in Delaware, Ohio in January of 1997. We remember that blustery winter day, happily convinced to brave the weather by friends Maggie and Richard Wenstrup. Maggie said, "c'mon, it'll be fun!"