I’m glad that I finally met you twenty years after I first saw your sculpture at the Cavin - Morris Gallery in Manhattan. And a year or two before you passed away at age 90. Have the older ghosts welcomed you into your ethereal world? For quite some time I have looked to your work for solace. It gives our home greatness. Your sculpture’s simplicity and crudeness speak to my soul. You prove that academic training is immaterial and can get in the way of profound and primal meaning. Blind since youth, you nonetheless created sculpture more powerful than that made by many able and trained artists. Your ‘scarey crows’ I see as sculpture rather than protective devices in your yard. Your work protects my soul and spirit from a myriad of “vulgar and banal” forces. Your forceful and repetitive hole drilling and tying of hose and leather straps become symbols of human strength, perseverance but also vulnerability. To experience your work is also to experience what it means to be human on the most essential level. Each strap and pierced hole is a signifier of self, transcribed through touch and feel. I’ve always seen your work as existential. I’m sure that each hole made was symbolic, intuitive or not, a personal as well as formal element.
To meet you Mr. Bolden after two decades of believing in your work nurtured my belief in you. You didn’t talk a lot to us. You mentioned your late brother and that you didn’t drink or smoke. I found your work much more powerful than your reticent personality. What did you think of my presentation at NYU celebrating the American Folk Art Museum’s anniversary of their Contemporary Center?