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‘Cornbread Mafia’ book signing by author James Higdon
July 26, 2013 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pmFree
Cornbread Mafia by author James Higdon is a true life account of the largest marijuana syndicate in American history, with its roots in Marion County, Kentucky. It is the story of Johnny Boone, Charlie Bickett and the band of Kentucky farmers dubbed the Cornbread Mafia by federal prosecutors. Over seventy arrests were made and so much pot seized that investigators called the amount “inconceivable.” But the strangest and most unique aspect of the story is that among all those arrested, no one agreed to cooperate with the police and name a kingpin or even testify in exchange for a shorter sentence.
Author James Higdon’s journalistic efforts earned him the dubious honor of being the first reporter subpoenaed by the Obama Administration. He worked closely with the current fugitive Johnny Boone, digging through the history and the myth, uncovering the stories that have startled and captivated readers. Charlie Bickett, a character in Cornbread Mafia will have work on display as well. Two of Bickett’s brothers spent 20 years in prison for their roles in the so-called Cornbread Mafia. Having spent most of his life working as a prison guard and bartender, Bickett now spends his time painting found objects, both in two-dimensions like saw blades and in three-dimensions like rescued antique furniture.
Charlie Bickett’s painting style would be standard folk art fare — landscapes, flower designs and animal portraits — if it weren’t for his surprising color choices that give his work a psychedelic quality that comes naturally to an artist who has spent much of his life surrounded by tons of marijuana. Jimmy Bickett, Charlie’s brother who served 20 years in prison for one 125-pound transaction in 1989, will also be present to sign your copy of Cornbread Mafia.
Craig Kaviar will be baking cornbread in his brand new earthen oven, created from Kentucky clay and insulated with recycled glass bottles. Its sculptural design is finished with several large leaves, mimicking the iron leaves that decorate many of his of furniture pieces. The historic wood-fired oven is just outside the gallery and visitors are welcome to step outside and enjoy the sculpture garden and the smell of baking cornbread. That’s three times the Cornbread for the price of one.
The exhibition opens July 26 with an artist reception and book-signing during the F.A.T. Friday Trolley Hop from 6-9pm.