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Barney Smith of San Antonio, Texas is an interesting individual. The retired plumber and artist created a unique roadside art museum/attraction in San Antonio, Texas in the late 90s that has grown exponentially over the last decade and a half. What makes Mr. Smith’s art museum so unique is that the entire 1.200+piece collection is made up entirely of toilet seats.
Smith has actually been working on his collection for over fifty years. It all began with a visit to a plumbing supply house that was in the process of trashing 50 toilet seats that had been unclaimed and unusable. Smith asked if he could take them and re-purpose them. At the time, he had been painting at a local River Walk and thought they would be an interesting change from the canvas on which he had been working. The vendor would only allow him to take the seats if he removed the hinges and threw away half of the seat. Smith tossed the rims and kept the lids to use as his new canvas. The vendor still was not convinced that he was not going to take them and try to resell them elsewhere, so he took home a few, painted them, returned the next day and the supply house gave him the remaining seats.
In the early 90s, a local television station picked up his story and all of a sudden his collection was in demand. He created his own museum to display the works of art and began conducting tours for locals and visitors who came to see his unique art. He prides himself in the fact that he has logged each of his visitors in a book and has every guest book that has been signed since he started the tours.
He is often asked to describe his art and Smith says that it is not one thing in particular. The art is part collage, part found an object, part hand lettering and part drawing. He has an entire stash of parts and pieces that can be used for projects that include belt buckles, buttons, pie tins, and odds and ends that he has collected from various places over the years.
To view this unique collection, head to 239 Abiso Avenue in San Antonio, Texas. For information about hours call 210-824-7791.
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