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Folk Fest brings raw, untrained art to Norcross

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Special Photo Howard Finster's Angel

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Special Photo Jimmy Lee Sudduth's Self Portrait

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Special Photo Eddy Mumma's Red Face Man

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Special Photo Mamie Deschillie's Black and White Cow

NORCROSS -- During this weekend, approximately 100 artists and galleries are gathering under one roof for the 19th annual Folk Fest, the country's largest exhibit of folk art in one place.

At the North Atlanta Trade Center, attendees can browse through thousands of pieces from self-taught art, outsider art, Southern folk pottery and anonymous works.

"I think this year will be a great group of artists," Steve Slotin, founder of Folk Fest said. "There will be names that people know and others with interesting nicknames like Black Top, but there will be some new discoveries out here and you have to take a look."

Out of the large number of booths, there are several that stand out at this year's event. A Kentucky gallery is presenting untrained Navajo works of art from New Mexico while a New Mexican gallery is bringing in art from Central American artists.

"This booth will bring in a really fascinating group of early established masters from Central America," Slotin said. "We usually show American work, but this is representing things from outside of our country."

Robert Reeves, who operates a gallery in Atlanta, is bringing Southern anonymous folk art, including "hardcore African quilts," according to Slotin.

One thing that isn't traditionally thought of as folk art is photography, but there will be some images at the show.

"A lot of people don't think about photography as folk art, but actual photography (created) with film is disappearing," Slotin said. "We need to showcase the people that were there in time capturing the past while we can."

That's the main reason why Slotin and his wife, Amy want to host Folk Fest every year -- to recognize these artists before they aren't creating anymore.

"People are so busy with back to school and their own lives -- they have a million things going on, but the reason I encourage people to come out is to capture everything about American art -- the disappearing Southern art without training," he said. "It's a self-taught field. People from the Southeast should recognize this before it's gone and it's something we should be proud of. This the only show of its kind in the country under one roof."

Today's admission is $15, which includes a T-shirt, re-admission and a meet and greet with some of the artists. Saturday and Sunday cost $7. Children 16 years old and younger are free. Folk Fest ends Sunday evening at 5 p.m.