Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the American Folk Art Museum

On view through December 10 at the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock, Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the American Folk Art Museum. I saw it earlier this year at the Huntsville Museum of Art (it closed there in June) and if you have the opportunity to see it in LR or elsewhere, it is not to be missed.

AFAM describes it this way:
Mystical, evocative, and sometimes simply strange, the art of fraternal practice is rich in symbols that are oddly familiar yet strikingly uncommon. Through arcane and alluring artifacts, Mystery and Benevolence brings to light the histories of the Freemasons and the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows, two fraternal secret societies with deep roots in American history. The over eighty carvings, textiles, sculptures, and adornments that constitute this exhibition were used from the late eighteenth through mid-twentieth centuries, and retain their clandestine allure to this day.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows initiatory degree scenic backdrop, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Fidelity, Huntsville Museum of Art AL


Independent Order of Odd Fellows Sign for Friendly Lodge, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Friendly Lodge

Independent Order of Odd Fellows initiatory degree scenic backdrop, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Independent Order of Odd Fellows initiatory degree scenic backdrop

Freemasonry exhibit, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Tracing Board, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Tracing Board

Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Ark of the Covenant, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Ark of the Covenant

Freemasonry exhibit, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Freemasonry exhibit, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Modern Woodmen of America Lodge Goat, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Modern Woodmen of America Lodge Goat

Independent Order of Odd Fellows axe, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Bury the Dead, Independent Order of Odd Fellows sign, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Independent Order of Odd Fellows ‘Bury the Dead’ sign

Huntsville Museum of Art AL

Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Huntsville Museum of Art AL

All Variety Salads

All variety salads, Warehouse Discount Groceries, Hanceville AL

All variety salads
pasta salad, broccoli salad, chicken salad, grape and nut salad, macaroni salad, ambrosia salad, pistachio delight, egg salad, pimento cheese, mustard potato salad, American potato salad, baked potato salad, shredded cole slaw, Tahitian mist salad, mandarine orange salad, Watergate salad, and others
Warehouse Discount Groceries
Hanceville AL, 2023.

This Week’s Various

As always, all images unless otherwise noted copyright Deep Fried Kudzu. Like to use one elsewhere? Kindly contact me here.

Affiliate links are sometimes used. That means that if you purchase something via one of the links, it costs you nothing extra, but may generate a commission, offsetting the cost of DFK… e.g. as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Also: remember that Bookshop is fab because they’re giving orders to indie booksellers. Grateful for your support. xoxo!

It’s been a bit since I’ve been posting — committing to post here regularly, each week. Missed it and you!

Museum of Design Atlanta: Level Up! Pixels, Play, and Progress exhibit, Atlanta GA

We saw the Museum of Design Atlanta‘s Level Up! Pixels, Play, and Progress , which will be on exhibit through January 14, 2014

At The New Yorker, The Puzzle of Putting Video Games in a Museum: After years of neglect, art institutions are coming around to games. Can they master the controls? with a look to MoMA’s “Never Alone” and others.

What ties it all together is a slightly pixelated notion of interconnectedness. “Whether Zoom video calls or Fortnite battles royal,” Glenn Lowry, moma’s director, writes in the catalogue’s foreword, digital interaction served as a “social adhesive” during the pandemic, “when so much threatened to pull us apart.” Paola Antonelli, the exhibition’s lead curator, has explained its deeper rationale in interviews, saying that she wanted to consider games “not as art, not as film” but as a “crystal-clear example of interaction design . . . like New York’s MetroCard machines.” Games, in other words, cannot be judged solely in terms of their scores, stories, scenery, and other constituent arts. If we want to understand what makes them unique, we must study their mechanics.

Obituary for a Quiet Life at Bitter Southerner

What I’ll miss most is the sound of his voice, cooked up in the North Carolina mountains out of remnants from across an ocean. There always thar, fire always far. I loved the phrase ever which a’way but loose. Loved how things liked to happen. How hello was what do you say and how being still meant setting awhile.

Even his voice was quiet, throaty and clipped in the way of men in these mountains — a voice meant for conversations beyond a crowd, meant for the group of men eyeing the door, aiming to be outside where it’d be easier to talk about nothing or just as soon not talk at all.

Kinda hurts my heart that someone would think Eggleston is boring, but:

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, Anniston Museum of Natural History, Anniston AL

Taxidermied ivory-billed woodpecker on display at the Anniston Museum of Natural History, from a 2008 visit

There’s so much so tiny that suggests that the ivory-billed woodpecker may not be extinct after all. And there’s Lost by Marybeth Lima in the current issue of 64 Parishes.

Alabama Theatre, Birmingham AL

from a previous visit inside the Alabama

Urban Archives Chicago has an original set of 8x10s of A.C. Keily prints of the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham

Super random
250yo unopened love letters to French sailors

From The Art Newspaper: Venice Biennale 2024: all the national pavilions, artists and curators announced so far

1500+ Van Gogh works online here at the VGMuseum

Pepperoni Rolls, Graziano's Pizza, Charleston WV

Pepperoni roll, Graziano’s Pizza, Charleston WV from a visit in 2022

How pepperoni rolls in WV got so popular, from WV Publix Radio

Lucchese is taking orders for its limited edition — 140 pairs — The Bluebonnet boots, at $15995/pair. They come with a packet of seeds.

Square Books has an event with Ana Reyes on her new A House in the Pines: A Lynching, A Lie, A Reckoning, with Ralph Eubanks, on November 14. I just started listening the audio version.

Atlanta got its first Michelin Guide

Juliet Gordon Low (think: Girl Scouts, Savannah) will be on US quarters in 2025 as part of the Mint’s (ha) American Women Quarters Program.

The story of Prospect Hill in Lorman MS and the dig: “We want to understand more about the lives of the people who never went to Liberia and also the ones who later became the first American LIberian settlers.” Whitaker said. “We’re hoping to follow up this excavation with a second one, maybe one or two years from now, to map the material culture in Mississippi to the material culture in Liberia.”

Through this mapping, they aim to uncover aspects of ancestors’ lives in Mississippi that were carried with them and trace the changes in the social lives of those same people.

Benton's Country Hams, Madisonville TN

from a visit to Benton’s in 2017

If the mainstream, mass-produced bacon from your local grocery store is a box of White Zinfandel Franzia, Benton’s bacon is a Melchizedek-sized bottle of Dom Perignon.

The Chattanooga TFP goes into where to find Allan Benton’s bacon around town, and ends with how Allan likes to best enjoy his: on a blt.

Red White & Blue Truck, Woodville AL

…not in the same league, but red/white/blue 4×4 in Woodville AL, from 2020

Zach Helfand writes for The New Yorker: When Trucks Fly: Monster-truck tires are at least sixty-six inches high—the height of the average American. When the trucks leap fifty feet in the air, a crowd’s reaction is almost religious.


Rosenbush Building, from a 2005 visit

Mary Louise Rosenbush, who with her late husband Bert z”l owned Rosenbush Furniture Co. in Demopolis, Alabama, donated two more works by Theora Hamblett to the University of Mississippi Foundation, which has the largest collection of Hamblett works in the world. Theora Hamblett and Mary Louise Rosenbush were second cousins.

At the NYT, Lindsay Zoladz writes in the Amplifier, a subscription-only newsletter, ‘The Ultimate Tammy Wynette Primer: Hear her biggest hits, deeper cuts and tributes from disciples.‘:
Throughout this year, Wynette has been materializing in pop culture in all sorts of unexpected ways. First, Jessica Chastain played her — garnering an Emmy nomination — in the Showtime limited series “George & Tammy.” In May, the critic Steacy Easton published a rousing little book called “Why Tammy Wynette Matters,” arguing that Wynette deserves — but has not received — as much modern recognition as her peers Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. And earlier this month, Lana Del Rey made headlines when she performed a slyly reverent cover of “Stand by Your Man” at an Arkansas concert.

Zoladz also wrote ‘Are We Finally Ready to Take Tammy Wynette Seriously? The unsung godmother of so-called “sad girl” music — and one of pop’s most wrenching chroniclers of feminized pain — has long been misunderstood.’ for the NYT Critic’s Notebook.

At Artsy: The Late Mississippi Painter Dusti Bongé Is Finally Getting Her Due

Behind the scenes in regards to the Met’s acquisition of “Bélizaire and the Frey Children” (attributed to Jacques Amans known as “a French portraitist of Louisiana’s elite”) whereby the family depicted gave the painting to the New Orleans Museum of Art in 1972. The museum kept the painting in storage, and John Bullard, museum director from 1973-2010, explained that the painting had not been in exhibitable condition and that since the museum has a large number of works that they can’t possibly exhibit, they deaccessioned it, selling it at auction as is practice. More in this video from the NYT. Here’s the Met’s press release, though they don’t give a date as to when they will have the painting on view.

The trailer for the Sofia Coppola ‘Priscilla’ movie, out now:

Among the NYT’s 12 Grammy Nominees You Need to Hear, Jason Isbell’s and the 400 Unit’s ‘Cast Iron Skillet’ (in American Roots Song). Their ‘Weathervane’ is up for Best Americana Album

Blind Boys of Alabama are up for Best American Roots Performance for ‘Heaven Help us All’ and Best Americana Performance for ‘Friendship’ AND Best Roots Gospel Album for ‘Echoes of the South’ — fun fact: ran into them one day at Fife’s in downtown Birmingham.

and just check out the Best Regional Roots Music Album nominees:

“New Beginnings,” Buckwheat Zydeco Jr. and the Legendary Ils Sont Partis Band
“Live at the 2023 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival,” Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers
“Live: Orpheum Theater Nola,” Lost Bayou Ramblers and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
“Made in New Orleans,” New Breed Brass Band
“Too Much to Hold,” New Orleans Nightcrawlers
“Live at the Maple Leaf,” the Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr.

and oh wow I’ve been listening to NMH forever and “The Collected Works of Neutral Milk Hotel” is up for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package okay and since NMH is Louisiana I just want to mention that when I saw the article at the Times about the man who was bitten by an crocodile and survived in part by biting back, I was sure we were talking somewhere in Louisiana and really about alligators but no, it’s Australia, and when a crocodile management expert was consulted about that tactic he said, “They’re not clean animals…That’s a good way to get a stomach virus.” And I just want to submit that if a croc or gator has you maybe catching a stomach virus is the least of your worries.

In the NYT’s Black Folk Musicians Are Reclaiming the Genre, East Tennessee State grad Trey Wellington (and the NYT mentions ETSU’s renowned Bluegrass, Old-Time and Roots Music Program) is interviewed. Here’s his “Black Banjo”:

Glad to be back to DFK! Posting much more regularly starting this week. xoxo!

Hartselle: Last Days of a Traditional Depression-Era Sandwich

We lost one. I’ve been documenting slugburgers / doughburgers / breadburgers / this genre of Depression-era hamburger for years, and the 1926 Willie Burgers in Hartselle, Alabama (originally Johnny’s Burgers) closed this summer. The owner of the building, not the owner of the business, was selling the building.

“I walked in here Friday and all my customers were crying,” she said. “I thought, dang, it’s like I went to my own funeral. And it still is.”

Willie Burgers, Hartselle AL

A simple, famliar setup, with a long bar and stools facing the workspace

Willie Burgers, Hartselle AL

Willie Burgers, Hartselle AL

with more spacious accomodations

Willie Burgers, Hartselle AL

Willie Burgers, Hartselle AL

keeping it simple

Willie Burgers, Hartselle AL

The idea behind these burgers is to combine hamburger meat with filler, like flour, crackermeal, or breadcrumbs. It got started in the Depression as a way to make the meat go further. Here at Willie Burgers, it’s a patty, mustard, ketchup, and onions. They can be customized somewhat but overall, the taste of the patty itself is a love- or hate- thing.

Willie Burgers, Hartselle AL

Willie Burgers, Hartselle AL

My Google Map for these type hamburgers:

From the SFA:

Trail of the Slugburger from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.

This Week’s Various

As always, all images unless otherwise noted copyright Deep Fried Kudzu. Like to use one elsewhere? Kindly contact me here.

Affiliate links are sometimes used. That means that if you purchase something via one of the links, it costs you nothing extra, but may generate a commission, offsetting the cost of DFK… e.g. as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Also: remember that Bookshop is fab because they’re giving orders to indie booksellers. Grateful for your support. xoxo!

Richard Dial, The Comfort and Service My Daddy Brings to our Household, High Museum of Art, Atlanta GA

Richard Dial’s The Comfort and Service My Daddy Brings to our Household at the High, from a 2022 visit

The American Perspectives exhibit at the Portland Museum ended May 7 — and especially love Richard Dial’s (Richard is Thornton Dial’s son) ‘The Comfort of Moses and the Ten Commandments’ — but the virtual walk-through is still available here.

Last month, the Walter Anderson Museum did a multi-day campout at Anderson’s favorite getaway, Horn Island.

Turnrow Books, Greenwood MS

Turnrow Books, from a 2017 visit

Turnrow Books in Greenwood MS has been devastated by fire. A gofundme is here

Rural Studio, Newbern AL

Rural Studio, from a 2019 visit

Candace Rimes talks to Design Milk about the influence Auburn’s Rural Studio had on her work

Bryant's Grocery, Money MS

The Bryant’s Grocery marker, from a 2016 visit

Carolyn Bryant Donham, Emmett Till’s accuser, has died.

The excellent obit for Martha Dougherty Sparks in Beaumont, Texas

Remembering Africatown at LitHub:

Fountain, Forsyth Park, Savannah

Forsyth Park, 2021

Harrison Scott Key at Bitter Southerner — I Can Feel G-d’s Presence in this Portable Toilet: Notes on St Patrick’s Day in Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A

(we were) charmed by the surreal splendor of a place that feels like a high-concept VR experience celebrating the zenith of Enlightenment humanism, all those trees, steeples, museums, pocket gardens, Girl Scouts, SCAD students painting en plein air, an outdoor wedding every few blocks. Too perfect to be real, this beneficent fairy kingdom, all shadow and sunbeam, blossom, and gurgle.


Men who would have filleted one another with pruning shears an hour earlier now stood at the borders of their encampments to discuss the rising cost of orthodonture. The lumberjack two spots over now wore a green feather boa.

Also Savannah, at the Oxford American, Joshua Peacock’s piece, Cathedral Basilica of St John the Baptist

Super random:
Six Barbie Dreamhouses that chart the evolution of the American home at dezeen and I had and dearly loved the A-frame

My friend, the Artlady Sonya Clemons, illustrated the children’s book, What Makes Alabama Alabama

Croquembouche is back


If you’ve ever wanted a peek inside the mill house in Mtn Brook

Ellsworth Kelly’s husband is donating 146 works to 19 museums to honor the centenary of Kelly’s birth and Glenstone in Maryland is celebrating 100 years with Ellsworth Kelly at 100

The original wax version of Degas’ “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” has been attacked at the National Gallery; these activists are going to find a way to ruin museum-going as we know it

The Storytellers: Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, William Faulkner sculptures at Pinnacle, Jackson MS

The Storytellers: Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, William Faulkner at Pinnacle, Jackson MS, 2015

At The Paris Review, Benjamin Nugent with At William Faulkner’s House

(regarding the article author’s professor describing the bedrooms upstairs at Rowan Oak): “It was a house divided between two drinkers who despised each other. He drank whiskey, she drank wine. And let me tell you, boys and girls …” Here, Allan leaned forward and paused to look each one of us in the eye. “You can still taste the poison in the air.”

Gentle reminder that among Faulkner’s faults, likely one that in my book gave Estelle good reason to separate herself from him: his disdain for air conditioning, which she had installed in her bedroom the day after his funeral.

Bonus: here’s a 1957 interview with Faulkner at UVa.

Unidentified participant: Sir, some months ago you expressed a fear in the loss of frontiers in American writing. Do you see any new frontiers opening up?

William Faulkner: Well, not exactly a frontier. I think now that we are faced with more of a—of a threat. It could hardly be a frontier to be conquered. It’s—it’s a force to be resisted, the force that is the pressure to make everybody belong to a mass or a group, which, in my opinion, would be the death of the writing and the painting and the music and everything else, that man has got to resist that. It’s difficult to resist because, to a certain extent, he has got to compromise now, simply in order to get along. It’s the—you’ve got to—to be on the alert constantly to know just exactly where to draw the line, which is—is too bad for the artist who should have all his time free to—to fight simpler dragons than that.

An excerpt from Stayed on Freedom: The Long History of Black Power through One Family’s Journey (here at Amazon, here at Bookshop) by Dan Berger at LitHub.

Franklin Barbecue, Austin TX

stickers on a post outside Franklin Bar-B-Q in Austin, 2021

Aaron Franklin has opened Uptown Sports Club in Austin after having to ‘reposess’ a smoker he’d lent from Franklin Barbecue to — as Texas Monthly puts it — “a museum in New Orleans. Aaron Franklin became unhappy after learning that a nearby establishment was using the smoker for its restaurant dishes” and I think we all know what museum that was, and the restaurant he’s talking about too (owned by someone with a four-letter last name).

Anyway, he’s getting Leidenheimer bread brought in, and Zapp’s, and making a gumbo that takes three days to be ready. Poboys that he’s calling sandwiches on the menu, red beans & rice, crab Louie, oysters obv, and bread pudding. It’s all here.

BTW if you’re ever wondering why we see Gambino’s bread so often in Bham, it’s because — for one reason — anybody can grab it from the chiller at Restaurant Depot on Lakeshore.

Chez FonFon, Birmingham

FonFon hamburger, 2020

Y’all know FonFon’s hamburger, but how about Bottega’s, served after 8p only, and only Tues-Thurs: with agrodolce onions, gorgonzola, pancetta, arugula, aïoli and served with chips.


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After Richard Avedon came to New Orleans to photograph William Casby, who at age 106 in 1963 had been born into slavery, the photograph was included in Avedon’s Nothing Personal, which the photographer called some of his best work.

from the NYT:
Now the Casby portrait is going into another book, to be published for the 100th anniversary of Avedon’s birth. The Casby image is one of 150 Avedon photographs accompanied by brief essays.

It is also in “Avedon 100,” an exhibition at Gagosian, the gallery on West 21st Street, that also features family portraits that Avedon took at the same time — Casby flanked by several generations of descendants. More than a dozen of descendants of those descendants gathered for the opening of “Avedon 100” last week.

I missed it last year when first published, but Food and Wine wrote about The Cheese Cottage in Mobile, in an old Pure Station on St Louis.

Sidenote in the article:

Referred to as “English cottages,” architect Carl August Petersen designed the Tudor revival-style brick buildings for Pure Oil in the 1920s, with charming structural details like steep roofs, wide chimneys, and arched doorways. A cottage in Fairport, New York, is now a National Historic Landmark. One in Lexington, Virginia, houses a donut and burger shop called Pure Eats, a nod to its original life as Pure Oil. There are two in Lynchburg—one houses a Japanese restaurant and one a diner called the Texas Inn. In Cape Charles, Virginia, the indie Peach Street Books features a blue tiled roof in the cottage’s original signature shade, with matching shutters and a bay window.

The Clementine Hunter works in the latest Slotin auction were authenticated by Tom Whitehead — more about him and his relationship with Clementine here:

Ralph Vaughn’s Art Road Museum in Rising Fawn, Georgia was on the WDEF news earlier this month.

Andrew Edlin’s tour of the Ousider Art Fair New York 2023

Outsider Art Fair New York 2023 from Outsider Art Fair on Vimeo.

Bagel, Potchke, Knoxville TN

Potchke, from a 2022 visit

Bon Appetit does a package on Appalachian food and one of the included tours for East Tennessee lists the excellent Potchke in Knoxville.

A reminder that if you’re sitting in, say, downtown Birmingham, you’re in Jones Valley which is the very, very southern edge of Appalachia.

Bill Swislow’s Art as a Roadside Attraction from the Society for Commercial Archaeology

My hometown just had its Strawberry Festival (Cullman is huge on them) and if you’ve ever wondered what planting those can look like, here’s Boyd Farm in Fairview:

Coconut Cake, Bottega Cafe, Birmingham AL

Her coconut cake at Bottega Cafe, 2017

BTW, the NYT tweeted as a reminder Dolester Miles’ coconut pecan cake recipe that was published there four years ago, along with their article about her.

L.V. Hull's Home, 2009, Kosciusko MS

From a 2009 visit

Of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the former home of the late L.V. Hull in Kosciusko, Mississippi. It’s been unoccupied since 2008 and when I went by shortly after, was shocked that the site had all the art removed (it’s all in safekeeping, and now under conservation with Kohler).

Advocates are preparing a National Register nomination and, in conjunction with the Arts Foundation of Kosciusko, planning to create the L.V. Hull Legacy Center comprised of both Hull’s home and four repurposed structures at a large corner lot on her street.

Also in the South:
Pierce Chapel African Cemetery, Midland, Georgia
West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana
Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church, New Orleans, Louisiana (aka Perseverance Benevolent and Mutual Aid Society Hall)
Charleston’s Historic Neighborhoods, South Carolina