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Artwork just for the joy of it

APALACHICOLA — There's a wooden Indian just inside Ed Moberly's home with a cardboard sign in his hand that reads "Sorry, we are not for sale."

The message applies not only to the Indian, but to the giant frog that appears to be holding up the back corner of the house. And the larger-than-life bald eagle perched in the front yard, the little white bear looking up from the floor and the vultures that stare at you as you walk through the home.

"I've been criticized for not parting with them," Moberly said while standing in a room crowded with his wood creations — mermaids, a pirate, a wild boar impaled by a bloody arrow, a raccoon flattened in the middle by a tire track. "Some people have come in and claimed I'm selfish because I've got all these treasures and I won't share them."

But anyone who calls him selfish just doesn't know Moberly, a 75-year-old retired insurance adjuster. He welcomes tourists into his home and yard, a virtual folk art museum crammed with the colorful pieces.

"Mr. Ed's a giver," said Ann Sizemore, the local librarian who works among a wooden toucan, pelican, giant green frog and an anhinga (a large seabird) carved by Moberly. "We're blessed to have his work in here."

Moberly doesn't have any art training and didn't start carving until he moved 10 years ago to Apalachicola "It's what you do when you don't have anything better to do," he said.

"When I first started, I sold three fish for $400, and then I realized that was a mistake. I shouldn't have done it. I didn't want to do anything but keep this as a hobby," Moberly said. "That was my first and last sale.

"When I first did a human face, it was sort of a little godlike feeling," he said with a chuckle. "You know, like all of a sudden this wood is looking back at me and it looks human. It's like having a hand in creation. I kind of enjoyed that."

And when he does see his work around this town of under 3,000 that's best known for oysters, it fills him with a good feeling.

"It's a nice feeling to know that something I made is standing there and you'll see tourists taking pictures of it," he said.

While the pieces around town are impressive, his home may be more so.

Moberly doesn't seek out attention, but if he's home, he gladly show people around and talk about his work, no charge.

"I've been coming into the house for six years, and I still see things that I don't remember seeing before," said Andrew Kahn, a photographer who has taken carving lessons from Moberly. "There's always something new when you come to Ed's house."

Artwork just for the joy of it 06/14/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 11:51am]
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