Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
We have some very sad news to report: Rev Seymour Perkins, San Antonio’s outsider preacher-artist, has passed away. I’ve heard rumors he had cancer, but don’t have all the details. Emvergeoning wrote two long posts on Perkins, first as part of our San Antonio Outsiders series, and then a follow-up visit to document the work inside his home. I think the best place to see his work in person (since his house burned down) is the San Angel Folk Art Gallery.
[hat tip to ]
Found out via Mark Jones at the Halloween Bike Ride that Herb Hornung, the owner of the Wooden Nickle Museum, and creator/inventor of both full and single color double sided wooden nickle presses, passed away on Oct 20, 2008. I had the opportunity to meet and photograph him a few months back for a story done by the San Antonio Current. I really enjoyed my short visit with him that day, and came away with a wonder and newfound respect for a man who would build mechanized wooden nickles printing presses from scratch. I was only allowed to photograph one of the working presses, as he said that design was widely known, his full color machines were, and still remain to be, top secret.
There is a Jewish proverb which says that “the other’s material needs are my spiritual needs;” it is this disproportion, or asymmetry, that characterizes the ethical refusal of the first truth of ontology–the struggle to be.
… The ethical situation is a human situation, beyond human nature, in which the idea of God comes to mind. In this respect, we could say that God is the other who turns our nature inside out, who calls our ontological will-to-be into question.
A little while back we did a series of posts on publicly accessible outsider artwork in San Antonio. One of the artists we covered was the Rev. Seymour Perkins, a controversial figure who lives on the east side of town. While others argue over whether he harbors drugs and prostitutes, and his lawyer battles with the city over the fate of his home, we here at Emvergeoning decided to take another peak at the work that isn’t so publicly accessible — the work inside his home. As Rev. Perkins gave us the tour I tried to absorb all the details, while Justin Parr snapped shot after shot of the inner sanctuary. From what I was able to gather, Seymour Perkins’ daughter, Debbie Jo Christi, was killed in a drug-related conflict on February 22, 1994. Here is a drawing on one of the walls that depicts her murder:
On the same day, the tallest angel in Heaven appeared to Seymour Perkins, revealing to him a tunnel that runs under his home, which is in fact the famous Underground Railroad. This tunnel connects his home to the Alamo and the Menger Hotel, and runs on down into Mexico. After receiving this prophecy (which I am recounting in only a very fragmentary and woefully incomplete way), Perkins founded the Debbie Jo Christi Museum, and Hanging Tough Ministries. Here is a painting of the tunnel running under the Perkins estate:
Here are a few shots inside the Debbie Jo Christi Museum:
The Museum is located in a small building in the back of the house. But within the actual house, where Rev. Perkins delivers most of his sermons, there are a number of fascinating works. In his bedroom, the pieces below are painted on the wall. The first is a self-portrait of Rev. Perkins with his son:
Next to this painting, is a larger work depicting one of his assistants, whose ass is stuck to his ass (i.e. he doesn’t know if he’s coming or going):
Below are a few details of one work painted on a window shade, depicting a man named Timothy Ringer, “the funkiest man in San Antonio”:
In addition to these works, dealing with himself, his family, and other meaningful people in his life, Perkins showed us a few pieces dealing with his relationship with God and History:
Now, this post isn’t intended to rally support around Rev. Seymour Perkins, or to say anything about his proper place in our community. I’ll leave that to his neighbors, his lawyers, and the city’s elected officials. But I did think it would be good for people to see what is inside his home — if it is destroyed in the coming months, this may sadly be one of the most complete documents of what it contained. To see more of his work, please visit the San Angel Folk Art gallery in the Blue Star arts complex.
We here in San Antonio have begun following one of the more mighty traditions of the olde world every Christmas.. we grow Mustaches and celebrate them on the eve of Christmas Day every year, at noon, in front of the Alamo. 2007 was no slouch. (this post also settles the continuous question over the need for a “mustaches” category/tag..as you can imagine, proper spelling is also an issue.)
I’ve only just started writing this post, and already I recognize it to be a failure. I’m writing on Ed Clark’s Christmas House , but I’ve never met Ed Clark, never been inside the house, never seen it in its full lit-up Christmas glory. All I know about the project is what my friend Leigh Anne told me: Ed Clark turned his house into a permanent Christmas-themed installation in honor of his late wife, who loved Christmas. That sound you hear is the shattering of any remaining pretense to journalistic credibility here on Emvergeoning.
So my plan to is show you some good photos of the outside of the house, shot, of course, by Justin Parr, and talk a bit about why I started this little series of posts in the first place.
Amid all the chatter about the art market, whether the bubble will burst or whether diamond-encrusted skulls are here to stay, it can be refreshing to look at people working outside of this art world ecosystem. It’s not that these outsiders aren’t ego-driven, or don’t want to be paid for their work, or are somehow more “pure” than a Creative Capital-trained art entrepreneur. But what we see in the work of Samuel Mirelez, or Rev. Seymour Perkins, or Ed Clark is a gesture mediated by the materials and needs of their own private lives. It is no coincidence that these artists turn their homes into installations, or that their works begin simply as gestures of love. While many artists try to universalize their work, to escape the personal, we see these outsiders revel in their own eccentricities to the point where the work becomes an homage to the very fact of being human. So through this work we can see more directly the original motivations, tools, and creative solutions of the artist. You can see the initial, unobscured impulse to create as well as the edifice which is built on top of it.
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This post is the second in a series focusing on publicly accessible outsider art installations in San Antonio, Texas. The first post in this series covered the work of bird house maker Samuel Mirelez. All photos by Justin Parr.
Although San Antonio is considered a well-integrated city, the black population is still for the most part confined to the east side of town. Hackberry Street is one of the main thoroughfares running through the east side near downtown. It is on the corner of Hackberry and Nevada that Rev. Seymour Perkins wages a battle against drugs and violence with art, mythology, and religion. At his home on Hackberry, Rev. Perkins runs Hanging Tough Ministries, Perkins Art School, and The Debbie Jo Christi Museum Project. His ministries began after Perkins’ daughter was killed in drug-related violence. He then started preaching and working in the neighborhood to curtail drug use. In 1999, his church was burned to the ground. Even after this tragedy, Perkins continued to preach from the cement slab on which the church once stood:
Much of Rev. Perkins’ art celebrates boundary-breaking African-Americans, such as the first black cowboy, Nat Love, the first black college president, Martin Freeman, Sammy Davis, Jr, and Martin Luther King, Jr (you can find some of these portraits at San Angel Folk Art). At other times Perkins uses the art itself to break down barriers, by painting the Statue of Liberty as a black woman, John F. Kennedy, Jr. as a black man, or by painting traditionally white, aristocratic hairpieces on various black figures. By interweaving American mythology with his own visions, Perkins becomes a sort of poetic revisionist, fighting truth with faith. He works as a quixotic figure, trying to break down long-entrenched boundaries and nullify the fear, hatred, and desperation that they have created within his community.
Recently, Rev. Perkins was arrested by San Antonio Police officers after a search turned up drugs in his home. Some claim the drugs were planted there, while others speculate that a member of Perkins’ “congregation”, many of whom use drugs themselves, may have left the substance in his home inadvertently. The artist is out of jail, but his legal fate is uncertain.
You can find the work of Rev. Perkins at the San Angel Folk Art Gallery, and at see his Sculpture Garden at in San Antonio.
This post is the first in a series that will cover some currently active, publicly viewable outsider art installations in San Antonio. We’re starting with Samuel Mirelez because he passed away on September 17 after a long battle with cancer, and the work may only be viewable for a short time. In the coming days we’ll cover Rev. Seymour Perkins and Ed Clark. All photos by Justin Parr.
As with all the artists we’ll be looking at in this series, Samuel Mirelez began his work as a gesture of love. Finding himself in a state of poverty, and with a wedding anniversary fast approaching, Mirelez decided to craft a gift for his wife out of Folger’s coffee cans. Despite the humble materials, the gift was ambitious: a bird house modeled after the San Fernando Cathedral, where the couple wed. The gift was a success, but the choice of materials took its toll; soon, the bird house began to rust and deteriorate. Seeing his wife’s dismay, Mirelez vowed to build a new San Fernando bird house, this time out of aluminum. Soon he found himself building bird houses for his children, his friends, and his coworkers. And he kept building them. He modeled bird houses after castles, Spanish missions, even the White House and the Kremlin. Eventually his yard, front and back, became a permanent installation of avian domiciles (though, strangely, with very few birds):
Although he switched to rust-proof metals, he continued to use found materials for all his houses: left over aluminum siding, scraps of wood, and anything else he could find, or that friends would give him. On a recent visit to the Mirelez house, we even spotted a transparent bird house:
The pieces also became less functional over the years, although they retained an architectural focus. Note this large piece with no walls, but architectural features including arches, spires, and friezes.