Authentic Antique African
Decorative Arts & Crafts
It all started with garden art and folk art at the Atlanta Flower Show in February 1989. A friend offered me a free booth to sell his ornamental concrete planters. I needed a business name so I made a list of possibilities and showed it to another friend who was in advertising. He zoomed right to YANZUM which was a name I'd made up from parts of each of my parents last names.
Around the same time, I met a guy who had just begun importing folk art from Mexico and Bali. I told him about the upcoming flower show and he gave me samples of a few things to take orders from until his shipment arrived. One item was a folk art whirlygig from Bali that ended up being a huge hit at the show because of the music it made as people turned the wind paddles. I sold a ton of those things because people kept coming to the booth to see where the melodious sounds were coming from. Everyone asked me where my store was, but I didn't have one, so I took names and contact information from all of the buyers.
As soon as the show was over, I went out and found a cheap rent building in a good part of town. I had little money to work with, so I did all the renovations myself. As word spread, I soon became a magnet for many new customers and importers of folk art from all over the world. My goal soon became finding interesting curiosities from as many countries as possible. After the year's lease was up, I moved to a larger space directly across from the Woodruff Arts Center and the beautiful High Museum of Art designed by Richard Meier. I now had the best view in town.
I found many new vendors at trade shows, and some African runners started coming in with their vans loaded with carvings, so I began experimenting with some cheap African masks, statues and beads. I was still carrying a lot of unusual folk art and hand made birdhouses. One year I won an award for the best bird house selection in the Atlanta area.
Eventually in 1994 a man who would become my long time good friend and mentor found his way to me. He started teaching me the difference between authentic African pieces and those that were made for the sole purpose of selling. He worked with several museums selling only high quality authentic traditional African tribal art, so I started going more in that direction as my business was being transformed from a store into a real art gallery.
I had many wonderful shows in the gallery, including Inuit art from the Canadian Arctic, sponsored by the Canadian government through the consulate a block away. In 1997 I received a special acknowledgement from the Atlanta mayor that says: "Your exceptional collection of diverse art is one of Atlanta's great treasures."
In 2000, after many years of long days and little time off, I ultimately made the difficult decision to close the gallery. I never miss the long hours and high costs required to run an art gallery, but I do miss talking with all of the wonderful, interesting people who came into my gallery every day.
Now I live in central Florida in a small beach town where I work from home. I still sell high quality African tribal art via this website, while also working on the many import/export projects that come my way from friends and contacts I've made around the world.
I've created two additional websites that focus on some of my other passions, including tropical plants, gardens and recycling. As you can see, one site carries the YANZUM name from my Atlanta store and gallery. It has a mishmash of interesting things for sale, including some African and Oceanic reproductions, along with a variety of interesting objects that I've collected over the years. There is also information about how to implement recyling in your home and garden.
Thanks for viewing.