A better Patriot Act

While some Americans wave the U.S. flag in a one-day jingoistic celebration of Independence Day, self-taught folk artist and musician Ab the Flagman's dedication to displaying Old Glory is never half-mast. In his world, every day is the Fourth of July.

Born Roger Ivens, the artist has been obsessed with all things red, white and blue since the age of 7, when he saw the flag at the military funeral of his father, a World War II veteran. Now 38, Ab's inspiration has earned him international fame.

For the past seven years, the former construction manager has worked as a full-time artist and entertainer. His series of unique three-dimensional wood and found-media sculptures, all based on a nationalistic stars-and-bars motif, have found homes in galleries and collections worldwide. "It's a shame that the 9-11 tragedy had to happen to make people interested in the flag again," he says. "But America is such a great place that people on both sides of the issue — the left and the right — can be unified over the image of the flag."

The "melting pot" of America serves to influence Ab's art and music career. "I learn something every time I talk to other artists, watch the news, step into a gallery or just listen to music." As he fronts the rockin' country blues band The X-Miss Americas, Ab's unflagging patriotism is evident, as well. "The Atlanta music and art community is just like America," Ab says. "We have everything we need right here."

Ab Ivens and The X-Miss Americas play Fri., July 4, at Darwin's. Call for ticket price. For more information on Ab's art, visit www.xmissamericas.com.