Buddy Jones to receive Marjorie Brandon Award

Buddy Jones, wood artist, drummer and community builder, will be presented with the Marjorie Brandon Award on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Center for Spiritual Living/Brandon-Mitchell Gallery, 117 S. Locust, Visalia.

The award is given each year to honor a long-time local artist who also goes beyond the scope of his or her own art to benefit the community.

The award is named for Marjorie’s amazing legacy of art in our area and for her work in the community. She attended the awards every year and will be missed this year. She died in August, a month before her 110th birthday.

Buddy Jones collects reclaimed wood and “reads” it to turn it into beautiful art. He has been a drummer for many years and hosts drum circles in various places.

He created Buddy Jones & Friends which is devoted to cultural diversity and community activism. He has benefitted many organizations, especially youth in culture and art.

The event will include a slide show about Buddy’s life, a dessert auction, and a concert of classic 50s hits by Deanna Saldana, who has toured professionally, and Bruce Huddleston, one of the founders of the High Sierra Jazz Band.

Seating in the center is limited. Tickets are $25 on Eventbrite or by calling the Center for Spiritual Living, 559 625-2441.

Before the awards, Roots Jamaican food truck will be set up in the area behind the center from 5:30-6:45 p.m. for those who want to buy dinner.

Buddy Jones is a wood artist. His latest piece is sculpting an old tree stump at the southeast corner of Main and Church in Visalia, which will become a permanent public art piece. He sculpts many decorative pieces from rescued wood and collects abandoned wood from various places throughout the Central Valley, “reading” the wood and turning it into beautiful art.

He has been drumming for a long time and often drums with expert local drummer Keio Ogama and her husband, master drummer Wadaba Kourouma from Guinea, West Africa. Buddy leads a drumming circle at the Heritage Cultural Foundation and has held drumming circles at the Center for Spiritual Living (where he will receive the award) and at ImagineU Children’s Museum.

Buddy Jones & Friends is a community organization devoted to cultural diversity and community activism. Activities include West African drumming, agriculture/construction, wood reclamation and sculpture (old growth grapevines and old buildings), storytelling, food and African American history. It’s for all ages, especially youth in culture and art.

Buddy and his first wife moved to Synanon when their mixed-race children were young to get away from racism because Synanon accepted all ethnicities. He lived and worked there for 19 years and met his second wife there.

He then became a contractor. Buddy Jones Contracting became one of the biggest and most visible Black-owned companies doing major construction projects in Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite national parks. Buddy built a train depot in Allensworth State Park and started an historic touring program that celebrates Allensworth and the contribution of African American contractors to California’s national parks.

Buddy works with Wadaba to get donations to send loads of rice to the village of Oroko in Africa. Buddy has received numerous awards for all he has done for environmental activism and community building.


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