1938 -1997

Leroy Almon

Tallapoosa, Georgia

Woodcarver Leroy Almon was born in Tallapoosa, Georgia, and grew up in Ohio. After graduation from high school, Almon became a shoe salesman and later an employee of the Coca-Cola Company in Columbus, Ohio. There, at Gay Tabernacle Baptist Church, he befriended Elijah Pierce, the renowned woodcarver. In 1979, when Almon lost his job, he apprenticed himself to Pierce and became "curator" of the artist's barbershop gallery. Initially, the two collaborated on pieces until Almon began creating his own carvings inspired by religion, politics, and history. Almon's artworks begin as preliminary sketches, which are then transferred to softwood panels and carved in low relief with pocketknife and chisel.

In 1982, Almon returned to his hometown of Tallapoosa, where he restored his boyhood home and converted the basement into a workshop and gallery. In Tallapoosa, he became an ordained minister and a nondenominational evangelist, while at the same time working as a police dispatcher. Christianity remained Almon's primary focus, both in his life and his art.

The African American culture of the South has produced many of the twentieth century’s most innovative art forms. Widely appreciated for its music—from the blues and jazz, to gospel, soul, rock ‘n’ roll—the region has also played host to a less visible but equally important visual art tradition.

Toledo Museum of Art
April 4, 2020 to July 5, 2020

The Toledo Museum of Art will feature 10 newly acquired works in the free exhibition, Trip to the Mountaintop: Recent Acquisitions from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from April 4 to July 5, 2020, in the New Media Gallery. The Souls Grown Deep Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to documenting, preserving and promoting the work of African American artists from the South and their cultural traditions.

Leroy Almon