The world of American art has always seemed content to carve itself into distinct and disparate realms: that of the trained artist, that of the folk artist, and that of those who make outsider art. Yet Butch Anthony has confounded those borders by refusing to fit neatly within any of them. As to whether he’s a “D: None of the above,” or “D: All of the above” kind of guy, that’s a point of debate art critics and fans struggle with to this day. One thing, however, is for certain—the Alabama native creates stunning works of art quite unlike anything else around.
From his 80-acre compound in Seale, Alabama, dressed in his quotidian pair of Liberty denim overalls, Butch Anthony has managed to meld a strong local identity with the materials at hand to forge a new sort of Southern aesthetic—“Intertwangleism,” as he likes to call it. Everything from cow bones to beaver twigs can figure into a piece, although his most renowned work tends to involve overlaying bone-white designs on antique paintings and tintypes. These skeletal additions create a stirring effect, often providing a kind of metaphorical x-ray into the complex history of America and the South—an allusion to the narrative bones that lie hidden beneath the fleshy surface; the deeper truths upon which great art is built.
To see more of Butch Anthony’s work, you can visit the website of his Museum of Wonder here. And if you ever find yourself in Seale, Alabama, don’t be shy about paying a visit in person. It is appointment only, though, so just be sure to let them know ahead of time you’re fixing to come—they’ll thank you for it, and you’ll be glad you did.