About the Artist

Canadian VacationFrom early childhood, Fred Bevans exhibited creativity in his above-average abilities to draw and paint. Unfortunately, he was brought up in a poor family and had no opportunity for formal art training. After serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea, he married and began his career as a truck driver in Mt. Airy, NC, and he then settled in Warwick, RI.

FamilyBevans found little free time to pursue his passion for art. He married and fathered four children, and he enjoyed camping, hunting, and fishing with his family throughout the United States and Canada. These events and his Native American heritage (one quarter Blackfoot) helped direct the subjects of his wood carvings. Early artwork, both paintings and sculpture, that he created in the late 1960s and 1970s were mostly animals, including ducks, birds, deer, bear, and the like. Some of the earliest carvings were just varnished, but eventually each sculpture received a polychrome paint finish.

Unfinished gunWhen Bevans retired from truck driving, he had the time he had always wanted to devote to his passion–wood carving. After meeting local Rhode Island master woodcarver Armand LaMontagne, he decided to stop creating oil paintings and charcoal illustrations and spend all of his time on wood sculpture. In the late 1970s, Bevans carved his first firearm from wood, a somewhat crude revolver.

Firearms became among his most favorite subjects, and some of his later gun sculptures with holsters have a realistic metal and leather, trompe l’oeil look. He had an uncanny ability to work from photographs and catalogues to produce very accurate representations of antique firearms. Much time was spent in the local library researching details for an upcoming project.

ShedBevans had a small workshop/studio next to his house, and he usually found (with the encouragement of his wife, Jeanette) some time every day to devote to carving. Of the estimated 125 to 150 pieces and groups extant, at least 100 were created during this retirement period. In addition to guns, his subjects included Native Americans, flowers, mammals, reptiles, insects, and some complex shadow boxes and dioramas.

Bevan's NestBevans loved making his art from blocks of wood in the workshop he nicknamed “Bevans Nest.” Fred T. Bevans, Jr. passed away in 2005, leaving behind a legacy of compelling folk art for generations to enjoy.