At first glance, it’s easy to forget that Lowell Davis is a world-famous artist. Clad in button-up plaid and blue jeans, hand accessorized by a pipe packed with Prince Albert tobacco, this approachable man can often be found relaxing on his front porch in Red Oak II.
He doesn’t sound like city folk, either. Noticing a visitor’s approach through the muddy muck of a recent rain, he says that “around here, we take off our shoes and roll up our pant legs.” Because – despite the fame and fortune – he still thinks of himself as a hillbilly.
I live in the middle of my art, in the middle of my dreams,” says Lowell. “Very few people are fortunate enough to be able to do that.”
Lowell’s world is much different today than it was during the so-called glory days. He doesn’t really paint any longer — his arthritis is too bad — and his trips in first class to visit collectors aren’t on the agenda. The accompanying fortune is long gone. Yet he says he’s never been happier. “I live in the middle of my art, in the middle of my dreams,” says Lowell. “Very few people are fortunate enough to be able to do that.”
The dream he is referring to is Red Oak II. Located just outside Carthage, Red Oak II became one of Lowell’s pet projects more than 30 years ago. It’s a collection of more than 40 vintage buildings that comprise a real, but fake, town. But to appreciate this place, one must first know about the man behind it.