Meadows states, “I can’t throw anything away. Everyday objects can be recycled or repurposed into an unending parade of creatures and characters. Faces peer out at me from the most mundane collection of materials.” In Meadow’s hands teapots, brushes, shovels, bottle caps, and discarded rusty junk are soon repurposed and take on their own personality. “I don’t usually have a roadmap when creating a piece. There are certain items I like to use for eyes, ears, noses, etc. The actual base that I build on points the direction for me to follow. My fish are the exception.”
The fish bodies are carved, usually utilizing reclaimed lumber, to the desired size and length. The scales of the fish can be anything, street trash is especially nice to use since it is already flattened and has a rusty patina. Fins and tails can be recycled tin can lids or kitchen utensils.
According to Meadows, “Finding the right combination of materials to create a fun or funky friend has grown into a passion. Luckily for me, family, friends and total strangers have kept me stocked with the raw materials needed. And I have been known to dumpster dive on occasion. “
“It’s important to me to keep my art humorous and on the lighter side. When a person visits my studio or booth, I know I have been successful when they leave with a chuckle and a smile.”
Meadows attended Sam’s Institute in Indianapolis out of high school to study architectural drafting and attend Lake Land College at Mattoon for industrial education and enrolled in drawing and art classes while there. His instructor praised his skills and predicted his future as an artist. He served in the Marine Corp and returned to Oblong in 1973 and worked as a carpenter and owned a craft store. He then finished his formal art education at Eastern Illinois University. He taught himself to carve and began submitting his work to juried art shows around the country. He began wholesaling his carvings and had orders for 50 of his famous penguins a month for six months for the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City, resulting in Bloomingdales placing 13 of them in a July 4th window display. He also had orders for thousands of duck decoys, which was exciting, but ended up being tedious and less than inspiring. He revisited his love of creating whimsical recycled art and that fills his time and fulfills his creativity needs.
Meadows has exhibited his work coast to coast. His show schedule includes such notables as Tubac Art Festival, Main Street Ft Worth, Challenge New Mexico, Atlanta Folk Fest, Outsiders Outside, Bayou City, Fiesta Arts, Recycled Santa Fe and House of Blues. His work has received First Place in media and Best of Show awards and he has a wood carving in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute.
in Washington D.C. He has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and numerous local newspapers as well as on a WEIU (PBS) special on Illinois Masters and also on WTHI TV Terre Haute.