Leslie Lovell, Savannah GA

Columbus 'Dude' McGriff - Folk Art

Dude McGriff (The Lost Wireman) was born in Gaston County Florida to a poor family that barely managed by working in fields. When he was five he lost sight in one eye due to a puncture by a piece of wire. Later on he lost most of his sight in the other eye.

He made his way to New York working as a shoeshine man at hotels. After he’d organized his tools-of-the-trade, Dude would open a cardboard box he carried as a makeshift suitcase and display three or four of his creations made from wire. His wire works ranged from airplanes, trucks, and animals.

In the 60s, Mel Torme and Robert Goulet bought some of Dude’s pieces. More than two decades later Academy Award winning director, Jonathan Demme would seek out Dude in Tallahassee and buy many of his works.

Columbus “Dude” McGriff’s work was included, posthumously, in a 1993 exhibit that opened in Tallahassee and was curated by James Roche, 40-year art professor at Florida State University: Unsigned, Unsung, Whereabouts Unknown Make-Do Art of the American Outlands.

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