Somewhere around 2002 I was driving into Beaufort and passed a sign at a roadside farmer’s market stand. The sign was large, and painted on an old, almost rotting piece of plywood, but it featured a hand-painted watermelon and the word “Yummy.” It was a wonderful sign and my first thought was that someone will surely steal that sign. For several weeks I drove past that sign always noting that it was “still there.” Near the end of the Summer I drove by and it was gone. The sign was gone! I immediately did a u-turn and went back and had the following conversation with the astonished and confused attendant.
Me: “Where’s the watermelon sign?”
Attendant: (Looking confused, but seeing that I meant business) He hollered over his shoulder toward the back of the establishment toward a place I could not see: “Hey Bill, Where’s the watermelon sign?”
A voice from the back hollered: “Up front by the picnic table”
Me: Visibly relieved, “oh good! How much for the watermelon sign?”
Attendant: (Really confused; hollers over his shoulder) “Hey Bill, How much for the watermelon sign?”
Bill (Now I know his name, hollers from the back!) “Gimme fifteen bucks!”
Me: “Yay! (Hollers toward the back) Hey Bill, please come out and sign it!”
And that is how I met a confused, but smiling, Bill Mead. Bill signed the sign and it was put into my car. I thanked him and told him that the painting was actually very good to be a roadside advertisement and that I thought he could sell these for profit if he wanted.
Within a week I drove past the market and now there were literally a dozen cleverly painted fruit and vegetable signs beside that market. So, of course, you know what I did; I stopped and bought them all. I encouraged Bill that he was actually extremely talented and hoped that he would pursue more of this art. And, he did.
The next thing I did was take him a couple cabinet doors from my kitchen and he painted those. He continued painting farmer’s market advertising signs for a while, but I am sure they all began to be snatched up. I could not keep up! From there he moved to painting on better surfaces and into galleries.
I am happy to report that Bill Mead is now a full-time artist and is collected far and wide. He was featured in several galleries in Beaufort SC for years, but now resides in Arizona. You can find his work on Facebook “Bill Mead Artwork” and you will be thrilled with his quirky, and beautiful scenes. He also posts some rapid-fire videos that show his process. Very interesting to watch.
Bill Mead is a part of my artistic journey, and in some small way I feel a part of his. His work always brings a smile to my face. Take a look and you will see what I mean. Isn’t that just what art is supposed to do? Bring joy.
Enjoy these pics of his work that I have in my home – and please check out his page for more!