Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pearl Arbor

by Drew Martin
Pearl Fryar was born in 1940 into a sharecropping family in Clinton, North Carolina. He liked mathematics and was later able to secure a job as an engineer in a can factory in Bishopville, South Carolina. When this hard-working man wanted to buy a house for his family in one of the better neighborhoods in the town, he was turned away because he is African American, and it was said that a black man could not maintain a well-kept yard. So Pearl went to another part of town, bought a house and a couple acres of land and since the late 1980s has transformed a nondescript patch of grass into a magical topiary-sculpture garden, which he accomplished by salvaging discarded bushes and trees from a local nursery and passionately dedicating hours upon hours of hard work combined with his personal artistic vision. Pearl and his yard are now known around the world, he receives busloads of visitors each week, he has inspired his neighbors and other townspeople to try their hand at his craft, he teaches art at a local college, and he put Bishopville on the map. What a beautiful person and a beautiful project. His story is wonderfully captured in the documentary A Man Named Pearl.