Mourning Francisco González Gragera, creator of Capricho de Cotrina

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Butch Anthony, Museum of Wonder

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About the Artist/Site

Anthony lives on a rural 80-acre compound he inherited from his grandfather, a cotton farmer. Although trained as a zoologist, he dropped out of college before getting his degree, terrified of taking the required public-speaking class. Making his living by selling barbecue lunches to workers at the local paper mill, he was inspired to start making and collecting art by an almost capricious incident: in 1994 John Henry Toney, a hired tractor driver who also lives at the compound, unearthed a turnip with a human face and then made a drawing of it; Anthony took it to a local “junk” store, and it sold. Anthony figured he could do that too, so painted over a found image, which sold for $50; ever since, Toney, Anthony, and another friend, John Snipes, have been making art.

Among the various structures and shelters located on the family compound, such as a log cabin home that Anthony started building in 1988 and is still tweaking, is the Museum of Wonder, an outbuilding packed with found objects (including Toney’s turnip) as well as objects created or fabricated by Anthony and his friends. The Museum started as Anthony’s taxidermy shop, and a place for him to keep his constantly-expanding collection of artifacts. He is constantly searching for and picking up found objects: cow bones are turned into chandeliers; old locks are welded into large bowls. Interesting natural forms, oddities, and collections of found objects complement Anthony’s paintings, which are typically painted white skeletons or other line figures superimposed over found images. Anthony writes, “I can weld steel, mix concrete, paint, throw clay, bend wire, sew cloth, and hammer a nail. Mix all these together and you got Intertwangleism,” his term for the range of artwork that he creates.

In addition to his collecting and art-making activities, Anthony and his friends organize an annual “Doo Nanny” party; in past years over 1000 people have attended the extravaganza, which features food, music, and, often, elaborate bonfires. There is also a weekly junk auction, held at the Possum Trot barbecue restaurant located within the compound. Friday nights are the best time to see this in action, but if Anthony or others are at home, they welcome visitors to explore the Museum of Wonder and the other artworks located around the site at other times as well.

 ~Jo Farb Hernández



Map and site information

41 Poorhouse Road
Seale, Alabama, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 32.319298 / -85.165615

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