Tucked away on the bay side of U.S. Highway 98, folk art lovers can discover a unique treasure.

The Woodie Long Gallery & Museum is housed in the unassuming home where the artist resided for many years before his death in 2009.

Although the artist no longer lives there, his widow does, surrounded by all of the works her husband created.

"He was a renaissance man," said Dot Long dreamily as she sits in the gallery surrounded by the works of his hands. "It takes a lot of time to wrap your head around the fact that someone you love is gone. We were with each other every day for 30 years. (When he got sick) I felt if I never got another day with Woodie, I was fortunate to have had the time I had.

"He was everything. Not everybody finds that," she added. "I so enjoyed hearing his stories. I enjoyed seeing how people responded to him. He was the painter/collector, and I helped him with whatever vision he had. He wasn't trained in art, but he was creative, and he was a storyteller. Every one of his pieces tell a story. I now love sharing his stories and feel I am still involved in his life and legacy."

The brightly-colored and descriptive works of art take up every wall, and is on most of the chairs, stools and lamps inside the home, and all of it tells a tale.

The strokes on the paintings are primitive, made by an untrained but intuitive hand.

The stories the paintings tell are of a simple life: children jumping on a bed; women hanging out the wash; women dancing together with upraised hands; children riding bikes; the proverbial yellow school bus; men picking crops in the field; girls flying kites; and angels.

The people that Long portrayed in his paintings were of all sizes and colors, and many were holding hands, as many did in simpler times.

Himself the son of poor itinerant sharecroppers, Long knew about such things. He was the fifth child of 10 in his family.

Long left the fields and went on to make a name for himself by telling the stories of his youth through his art, but he never forgot from whence he came.

His work has been featured on the cover of the Smithsonian and the Washington Post magazines, as well school art books.

Dot and Woodie Long met while they were working in Saudi Arabia. Dot had traveled extensively and had earned an associate degree in art. Woodie painted buildings.

When they returned to the states together, Woodie got a scholarship to play banjo at a community college in Andalusia, Alabama.

"One night, he came to pick me up for choir practice and saw an artist painting an abstract piece of artwork at the college," said Dot. "He watched him for a bit, then asked me if he could borrow my brushes. I came home the next day and he had completed a painting. It was brilliant."

Dot took the painting to the college and showed her art teacher. The teacher was so impressed that he bought some of Woodie's first pieces.

After that, Dot gave her brushes to Woodie.

"He was better than me," she said. "He painted stories."

Since Woodie's death seven years ago, his widow has kept the gallery that bears his name just as it was when he was alive. She proudly shows guests binders after binders that are full of clippings from the many times Woodie and his art were featured in print.

The artwork at the gallery is for sale.

"No, it's not hard to give it up," Dot says with a nostalgic smile. "He gave me too much to not share. After you lose what is most important to you, you realize that everything else is temporary. I am happy to see his work go to good homes."

Dot invites the public to come out and look and remember with her.

Since Woodie's death, Dot is learning to carve out a life of her own, and has learned to dance.

"It's exciting to figure out who I am," she said. "He set the bar for exceptional."