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John Byam (1929–2013)

New York–based artist John Byam died on March 30. Byam, in his latest solo exhibition at Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, was praised by critics for being more than just a self-taught craftsman. Jerry Saltz of New York Magazine described him as “an upstate visionary” and “an artist, period.” Born on April 20, 1929, Byam held various odd jobs throughout his life, working as a D&H Railroad water boy, a grave digger, a trailer park attendee, and an American soldier. It was only in the Army in 1950 that Byam left his hometown for the first time, stationed in Japan during the Korean War for two years. Byam’s wood carvings included depictions of everyday objects such as stairs, caskets, ladders, and furniture—reflections of the culture he came to know while living in Oneonta, New York. In addition to being featured at Edlin, his work has also been exhibited at Martin Mullen Gallery, New York, and Parker’s Box, Brooklyn.