John Madison "Mad Dog" Fewkes
"We at Quapaw Canoe Company are very sad to share the news that Mad Dog John Fewkes passed away in March 2016 due to a heart attack. He was friend, advisor and an all-around good guy, poet and artist. RIP John Fewkes. We will remember you every day we are on the big river, especially near Helena, Buck Island and the St. Francis River."
John Madison Fewkes, born at Chicago, Illinois, on June 16, 1956 brings diverse experience to Helena Outpost. Fewkes, who lives in Dundee, Mississippi, came to the Delta in 1994 as plant manager for Pillowtex Corporation's Tunica Branch.
Fewkes also began teaching business and marketing classes for Coahoma Community College's Adult Outreach evening program in 1996, where he has continued to serve until present.
In 2001 he was asked to take over as curator and executive director of Tunica Museums, Inc. where he directed the design and installation of the museum's permanent exhibits and curated, created and developed several temporary exhibits and research projects.
While working at the museum, Fewkes became interested in helping low and very low income families purchase their own homes. He was asked to join the board of Tunica County Housing Project, Inc. where he has served since 2002.
John then turned his sights to Clarksdale for a while, helping clean, organize and sort the WROX Museum extensive record and tape collection. Next door to the museum, he helped open Gimme Gumbo Gallery, filling the space with his own acrylic paintings of blues musicians and interpretations of blues lyrics and song titles. Fewkes was also a substitute teacher for the Tunica County School District.
In 2007 John turned his attention back to one of his favorite places, Helena, Arkansas. Wanting to participate in the rebirth of Historic Downtown Helena, Fewkes began supporting and helping out at Grounds, a Habitat for Humanity donation center, by purchasing used books and hanging artwork which he donated a portion of any sales to Grounds. He encouraged other artists to show their work at Grounds and helped create an entire gallery space on one side of the building. He is a regular at Grounds poetry night on Thursdays, and through Grounds has met many citizens and businesspeople of Helena.
When friend and fellow artist John Ruskey asked Fewkes if he would be interested in managing the Helena Outpost, Fewkes gladly accepted, noting, "This is the perfect combination of the use of mind and body."