Eugene Merritt

Biographical Info Sheet

Folk and Self Taught Artist

November 1996

Name:  Clyde Eugene Merritt, “Gene”

Age:     November 30, 1936

Born:   Columbia, South Carolina

Lives:  Rock Hill, South Carolina

Gene’s subject matter ranges from popular cultural icons, people in his community, landscapes, scuba diving (frog men), cars and animals.  The drawings are usually done in pen on sketch or notebook paper.  He uses connective contour lines to define particular features.

Gene decided he wanted to draw cartoons for a living.  From that point he created his fictitious “Gene’s Arts Inc./Gene’s Art Gallery”.  He has had very little formal education.  He learns from Television.

Gene began drawing as a natural instinct.  He had been an “inventor” creating radio helmets, and home made cable television antennas.  He has picked up a pen and a napkin in a local restaurant one day and decided to draw.  Since then he has gone from “Gene’s Cartoon” to “gene’s Art’s Inc”.  Sometimes he draws “Gene’s Invention’s Inc.”

Gene began drawing on napkins, and local merchant’s began giving him stationary and notebook paper.  Since then people have also been buying sketch books for him, and he sometimes draws on the back of Xerox copies.  He has also drawn on found wood, and plywood.  He uses pens that he finds, or that have been given to him.  He also uses magic markers and colored pencils.

Gene has had exhibits in Columbia, Charleston, and Rock Hill, SC, and in Washington, D.C.

In addition to drawing, Gene also plays the guitar, and has held various other jobs.  He was Buttons the Clown with the Charlotte, N.C. Clowns, he shined shoes on the street in Rock Hill.  Gene has also played in honky-tonk clubs in Rock Hill, including “The Bloody Bucket” and “The Roadside Club”.

Gene usually dates everything at least one year ahead.  Some are dated ahead as far as 1999: He believes he will always stay ahead of himself if he dates things in the future.