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Flag Fascination

The Self Taught Creations of Ab the Flagman

by Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder

He was discovered selling his wooden flag creations to fans outside Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium. This is his story.

Ab was born Roger Lee Ivens in 1964 at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. Roger Lee was only seven when his father, an army man, passed away. At age seven, death was not easy to understand. Roger's father was given a full military funeral with the American flag draped over the coffin. At the end of the service the flag was folded and presented to his older sister. Roger was drawn to that flag and from it grew the desire to create and continue the quest for the freedom that his father fought for.

Orlando Sentinal

Not long after the family's tragic loss, young Roger and his mother moved from Lookout Mountain to Atlanta Georgia where they started a new life.

Young Roger had two passions. One was music - as a youngster his mother drove him all over the state of Georgia, where he performed as a solo singer in various Baptist Churches. Roger also had a gift for creating art and it was this combination of interests that would shape his future.

One fine day in his teenage years, Roger asked his teacher the meaning of the word abstract as he had seen the word used to describe some art. As a joke, his classmates started calling him Abstract. The name stuck. Much later, while working on a construction job, his co-workers changed it to Ab.

Ab became a carpenter and it was while he was working at a wood shop that he began to see a correlation between the pieces of left over wood the flags he had been collecting since his father's death. Using scrap pieces of wood, old discarded doors and chairs, he re-arranged the pieces in a unique new way. By layering and interweaving the pieces, he turned them into three dimensional sculptures of the American flag. It was this creative effort that ultimately earned him the title Flagman.

Most of Ab's marvelous creations include freedom symbols like the Statue of Liberty, eagles, faces of U.S. Presidents and of course, the flag.

Not many folk artists have climbed to fame as fast as Ab the Flagman. From the sale of his first creation at the side of the road in Atlanta Georgia, to being represented by a number of well-known art galleries, he has become a full-fledged folk artist, whose work is collected and treasured. He is also lead singer in a country rock band called The X-Miss Americas.

Ab, we salute you. Keep on creating.

More Photos:

Ab the Flagman
Three Star Floating Flag
painted found wood

Ab the Flagman
New York Liberty
painted found wood 18.25" x 22.25"

Text © Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder; Photos © Marcia Weber Art Objects; Reprinted with Permission

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