CLC Artist: Tommy Dolph

Photo: Jesse Anderson Photography

On August 14, you can find Tommy Dolph sitting in a haunted lemonade stand made from the doors of an abandoned house. “I don’t think I’ll have any lemonade for sale … which confuses people,” Dolph says. Although he won’t be selling any delicious lemonade, Dolph will be selling  his delightful handmade characters, which include an army of cardboard wizards, creepy monster hands attached to coffin-shaped boards and Dolph’s personal favorites—a collection of hubcap portraits of classic Americana artists like Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.

Dolph, a self-proclaimed visual folk artist, got his start nearly four years ago after becoming fascinated with hubcaps that he noticed on the side of the highway. “Usually between Ogden and Salt Lake there are like 15 to 20. I got obsessed with this object. They’re shiny and pretty. It’s like you can’t help but stop and pick [them] up. I just tried to figure out what I could do with them,” Dolph says. “I used to go out and get them on the freeway, which was not very good—the police made me get off the road [once].”  Eventually Dolph decided that he would paint portraits of old-school country artists on the hubcaps, claiming that the subject matter just seemed to fit with the semi-truck hubcap that it was being painted on.

These days Dolph stays off the highways when collecting materials for his art. “I’ve finally located a junkyard. I just go out there with a little bit of cash and a screwdriver and walk around and pop off as many as I need,” he says.

Although Dolph primarily sticks to painting artists that would be considered classic American musicians, he isn’t opposed to the idea of painting more contemporary artists, local musicians and even accepts commissioned work. “I like the idea that as a group they kind of hang together, but I’m open to anything. Except for Clapton.” says Dolph. “I just won’t do Clapton. You gotta have a rule.”

Dolph’s cardboard wizards, hubcap portraits and monster hand coat racks might not be as practical as some of the dishtowels and messenger bags that other Craft Lake City artists will be slinging, but Dolph’s items are quirky and charming enough that you can’t help but come up with a reason why you must have them.

When asked what will be new to the haunted lemonade stand for 2010, Dolph says, “I will have some surprises, I’m sure ... I don’t know what they are yet ... so we will all be surprised.” If you don’t have a chance to stop by Dolph’s haunted lemonade stand during Craft Lake City, you can check out wizards, hubcap portraits and monster hand coat racks at Frosty Darling and even more of his hubcap portraits at Pat’s BBQ.

Photo: Jesse Anderson Photography