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Monday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm
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January 17 - February 29, 2020
January 17 - February 29, 2020
The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Butch Anthony of Seale, Alabama. The exhibition will consist of new images, assemblages, and installations created specifically for our galleries. As a multi-faceted self-taught artist, Butch Anthony creates works that investigate and appropriate images from the American vernacular. His practice includes painting X-ray like skeletons on top of antique portraits in elaborate, often gilded frames. An avid collector of unique and bizarre objects, he created the Museum of Wonder, a modern-day cabinet of curiosities filled with art, artifacts, and antiques including the world’s largest gallstone and an actual footprint from Sasquatch. Anthony also hosts the Possum Trot Auction, a weekly junk and art auction (featured on television’s American Pickers) on his 80-acre parcel of land that has been in his family for generations. He has also built The Museum of Wonder Drive-Thru, the first drive-through art and antiques gallery, also on his property. In addition to making and selling art, building unique roadside attractions, and collecting found objects to incorporate into his own artwork, Anthony built his own house and several outbuildings which have been featured in the New York Times.
Though Anthony’s work emanates from the folk art or vernacular idiom, his works are unmistakably original in concept and execution. The term “folk art” is generally applied to traditional media such as wood carving, quilt-making, functional pottery, weaving–items that are passed down from generation to generation. Anthony’s work often has a charming immediacy because of the familiarity of the selected materials, yet this surface appeal is often undermined by the conceptual premise. Some images evince a biting sarcasm or ironic wit, while others poke fun at our consumerist society. There are several layers of meaning embedded in Anthony’s work. For a few of the pieces in this exhibition, the artist hired a Chinese painter to create 5 x 7-foot enlargements of appropriated images he sent. Anthony then reworks the surface of these commissioned paintings, melding appropriation and global commerce with insouciant graffiti-like embellishments. Now, many of these paintings become more elaborate with the addition of bones, artifacts, and shadow boxes that amplify the visual and conceptual presence of the piece.
As a sculptor, Anthony’s work often employs the detritus of our disposable society. He has become adept at creating imaginative combinations that subtly comment on the human condition. These assemblages then gain strength by being seen in the context of his other works, creating a kind of chain reaction that reinforces his primary message.
This exhibition brings together several of Anthony’s creative explorations over the past few years. Singular portraits, assemblage objects, and installations combine to create a working model of the inside of Anthony’s mind.