Reverend George Kornegay – House of Apocalypse

One of the least-mentioned art/visionary environments here in Alabama is the one made by Rev. George Kornegay, the “House of the Apocalypse”.

He’s a preacher affiliating with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and received a message from G-d in 1960 to make his art in order to communicate his message more clearly. Along with his home, the environment he built is called “House of the Apocalypse”. It is in Brent, Alabama.

It’s really a shame, because today so many of his pieces are broken or just missing. It looks like at least 75% of what used to be there is just gone. The whole place has been neglected.

There used to be one piece called “electric chair” or “capital punishment”, which was made up of an electric stove with a figure representing a man rested on the burners. It was nowhere to be found.

The Reverend’s daughter Annie lives at the house now. I tried to carry on a conversation with her, that I knew a little about her family and how the Reverend was her father and had given her this place and that I thought it was wonderful & blah blah blah, but hoo-wee! She does not enjoy company. People who build environments in their front yard 99% of the time want to interact with visitors but Annie is very protective of what her father had built (forget that it has been neglected to the -nth degree) and does not want people coming up to view it. Perhaps she comes across as angry when it is that she is afraid that visitors will take what is left, and her feelings may be rightfully so from what I saw. Such a shame.

Dreamland, Doe’s, and Lots of Kentuck

I had never been to the original Dreamland in Tuscaloosa, so before we went to Kentuck, Av drove us over.

Interior, Dreamland in Tuscaloosa (the original)

There are other Dreamlands – Birmingham, Huntsville, Northport, Mobile, Montgomery – and now there are two in Georgia (Peachtree Corners and Roswell)! The ones in other locations serve chicken and sides – this original Dreamland location in Tuscaloosa serves just ribs and bread, Golden Flake chips, and ‘nana puddin.

Elvis and Nixon Pic on Wall at Dreamland in Tuscaloosa AL
The King definitely would have liked Dreamland.

Ribs & Bread, Dreamland in Tuscaloosa

When the football season started, we heard on the radio broadcasts that Doe’s Eat Place was going to be in Tuscaloosa (Doe’s was sponsoring some play, or something….like how Verizon does the ‘best call’….something like that).

Av and I just looked at each other the first time we heard that – we were like….Doe’s….in T-town?….can it be?

Well, sure enough, there *is* going to be a Doe’s Eat Place in Tuscaloosa.

I went to Doe’s website, and I knew there was one in Little Rock and Lafayette, but there are others now – in College Station, Tulsa, Hot Springs, Fayette, Fort Smith, and Bentonville.

We didn’t go into the one in Lafayette when we were there in August, but I saw when we drove by that they had white tablecloths….

At the *original* Doe’s, you eat in ancient chairs at ancient rickety tables, you order from memory – we always split a porterhouse, Av gets fries, and we share tamales. As you walk in the door, the steaks are cooking *right there next to you*, if you go in the room just past the front entrance, the waitresses are making salads *right next to you*.

The steaks are amazing (everything is amazing), everybody is super-nice, and everybody talks about football – what more could a person ask for? If G-d told you an hour before you were going to die that you could go anywhere you wanted for a final meal, you’d say “first, can I have more than an hour? Because I need to get over to Doe’s.”

Anyway. That’s my love sonnet to Doe’s.

We’ll be in Greenville later this month or in early November, so I’ll take some pics and post them then.

So we finally got to Kentuck! Yay! Here are pics:

Holden McCurry

This is Holden McCurry‘s booth – his tower sculptures are really great.

Jack Beverland
This booth above was Jack Beverland. He does these bumpy pieces that glow in the dark. This one is of cotton pickers.

Jimmy Descant

The pic above and the two below are the work of Jimmy Descant. We are always totally wowed by his art.

Jimmy Descant

Below: microphone lamp. Cool.

Jimmy Descant


Myrtice West at Kentuck Festival of the Arts, Northport AL

This pic above and the couple below are of Myrtice West and her art – she is just *amazing*. A lot of her art includes Jesus, but we found and bought one of Moses on Mt. Sinai receiving the ten commandments (mitzvot). I am just so enamored with her art.

Myrtice West

Myrtice West

Tom Haney

This pic above is from Tom Haney‘s booth. You *have* to go to his website to see his automated pieces.

Ab the Flagman
This pic above is of Ab the Flagman’s booth.

Project Alabama at Kentuck Festival of the Arts, Northport AL

This pic above is of the Project Alabama booth (I heart Project Alabama – they were nominated for the 2005 Fashion Design Award from New York’s Cooper-Hewitt museum, named finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award, and UPS sponsored their first-ever runway show this year), but thing is – see that dress that the people above are looking at? – it’s $16000. And it seemed like every person that left that booth turned to the person they were with as if to say, “did you see that dress? yes. $16000.”

Kreg Yingst

This pic above is of a piece that we almost bought. It’s by Kreg Yingst, and it’s this great piece about Hank Williams. Oh, I wanted that one.

Chris Hubbard
Art car (and art) by Chris Hubbard

Yvonne Wells

Yvonne Wells and her quilts

Av bought a piece from Lonnie Holley a couple of years ago, and Lonnie stood there for five or ten minutes turning it over and telling Av all the symbolism of the piece. He’s a total genius.

York Show Prints at Kentuck Festival of the Arts, Northport AL
Above, York Show Prints – we got one print for a show that Kathryn Tucker Windham did, and another that had Sambo Mockbee’s “proceed and be bold” statement on it that had been done for the Rural Studio. When we bought the prints, we were invited to make our own print on the machine.  Oh – one more thing – YeeHaw Industries from Chattanooga was at Kentuck, and we got four small pieces of theirs. I’ll take pics and post those later. We had a wonderful time!

Ave Maria Grotto, The Most Wonderful Religious Folk Art, in Cullman AL

Colisseum in Miniature at Ave Maria Grotto, Cullman AL//

My interest in religious folk art started when I first visited the amazing works of Brother Joseph Zoettl in my hometown – I’ve probably been there thirty times or more. His works have been written about countless times; people come from all over the country – all over the world – to see his creations. 

There are so many great folk art displays here in the South….I’ll post pics of more places soon.

In super-wonderful news, I got an email last week from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art – my fav museum – in New Orleans that everything is okay; there really wasn’t a flooding problem where they’re located and they weren’t broken into. Yay!

BTW, pics I’ve taken of Margaret’s Grocery are here; pics of William C. Rice’s Cross Garden are here; I’ll post pics of Palestine Gardens soon.

Ave Maria Grotto is on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey (it’s “bernerd”, not “Ber-nard”, like Bernard Parrish or the Saint Bernard dog) in Cullman, AL. All the pieces in the Grotto are the works of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a monk at the abbey, who had a hunchback due to an accident he had as a child. Luckily, this injury made it more comfortable for him to work on miniatures, which he started as a hobby. As the interest in his creations grew, the abbey dedicated space for him to be able to make and display even more of his works.

People would send him all kinds of things help build his models, and he used everything – marbles to dishes to shells and even toilet floats. A truly great folk artist.

Brother Zoettl died in 1961 after completing about 125 works.

It takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to walk through the Grotto; the distance is actually pretty short, but there’s so much to look at you’ll want to stop and view everything. Admission is $5 for adults (if you have a AAA card, it’s $4).

All of the pics from Ave Maria Grotto are in a set here on Flickr.