By Doc Lawrence
“The Great American Pie Contest,” (Austin Macauley USA, 2022), Olivia Thomason’s long-awaited children’s book, also turns out to be a genuine work of art, no surprise when you consider that her career has largely been that of a highly-successful folk artist and gallery owner. The book has a charming story with a bonus: 28 original paintings fill the pages with color, energy and wit. There’s more than enough to capture the interest of adults as well as youngsters.
Who doesn’t enjoy a slice of delicious pie?
Ms. Thomason combined her experiences as a mother, grandmother, librarian, bookstore employee and home cook and “a book was born,” she admits. “I always read books to my children and the young students who were regulars at the school library. We enjoyed books together.”
The book’s illustrated story utilizes words and Ms. Thomason’s paintings to deliver an adventure with a meaningful ending. The book follows the traditional story-telling formula: a beginning, middle and an end. There is an important life lesson. Along the way, dreams will be shattered through no fault of our own. When that happens-and it will-we can accept disappointment or seek to overcome defeat by using our imagination.
And, when we focus on goals that benefit others we also benefit ourselves. Here, the chefs from the four corners, who wanted trophies and acclaim and made really good pies, were disappointed by an uninvited glutton who maliciously devoured so much pie that everything was ruined, even causing the wrongdoer to bloat and become miserable.
Regrouping, the chefs, determined not to accept defeat, baked even more pies and decided to share them with others, victoriously spreading good cheer and making new friends.
A children’s tale translates into a story that should inspire adults.
Olivia Thomason has worn man hats during her career. Dr. Richard Funderburke, the esteemed Atlanta historian praises her as “Georgia’s queen of folk art.” With paintings in prestigous home and corporate collections throughout the country, she has spread the word that her native South is a multicultural land of family, church, music, dancing and good food. Her works often juxtapose humor with work and worship, occasionally honoring sports, particularly the Atlanta Braves.
Many living in the Atlanta region remember Olivia Thomason’s popular Primitive Eye Gallery near Emory University, where she helped kick-start the careers of many artists whose self-taught works likely would have disappeared without the exposure and promotion the gallery provided. The gallery’s annual “Dog Days Folk Art Festival” attracted thousands who came for barbecue, music and fellowship and purchased art from amazing artists.
“The Great American Pie Contest” is available in major bookstores like Barnes & Noble and through Amazon. Callie Langford, a retired nurse living in Atlanta is also a folk art collector who bought several copies of Ms. Thomason’s book (“hardcover, of course!”) and plans to give them to family members with young children. “The artwork is amazing,” she said, “and the story is a wonderful lesson told in a fun way.”
A native of Hendersonville, NC, Olivia Thomason lives in Stone Mountain Historic Village near Atlanta. Contact her: email@example.com