Chuck Williams

Chuck Williams: Curious about Butch Anthony's new piece of Broadway art

Dressed in his signature denim overalls, Butch Anthony was in the downtown Columbus median Monday morning pounding away with a sledge hammer.

The Seale, Ala., artist was driving this red platform with 17 spindly legs into the grass between Iron Bank Coffee and the Cannon Brew Pub in the 1000 block of Broadway.

Prime real estate for display of public art.

What are you doing, Butch?

“Well, ”

When Butch, slow talking and multi-talented, starts a sentence with “well,” you better pay attention.

Seems Art Beat, which selects art for display downtown, asked Butch to come up with something unique.

Not a problem. Few people in the Chattahoochee Valley are as unique as Butch.

What Butch came up with is titled “Cabinet of Curiosity.” And damn if it isn’t just as advertised.

When he finished pounding the base into the ground, he mounted a red box with a sheet of tempered glass on the front.

Curious? You bet.

The box is full of artifacts Butch has collected over the years and displays at his drive-thru Museum of Curiosity in Seale.

Let’s see what’s in the box:

There is a rat skeleton. A king snake skin. Buttons dozens of buttons. An old paint brush. An ostrich egg. Dead spiders. Skeletons of all types. An old canteen. And much more.

“You know I got a little museum down in Seale in my old barn down there with all this junk in it,” Butch said. “So, I decided to make a mini-museum.”

You get the picture. And it’s quite the picture.

It is easily the most unique piece of public art put on display as part of the Uptown Columbus Inc. project to bring art to the masses.

The reaction to this piece is going to be interesting. Not 10 minutes after it was installed, several downtown regulars were slowing down in front of it and trying to figure it out.

Good luck with that.

You would have a better chance of trying to figure out Butch, a simple, yet complex man.

He welcomes the fact that his art, which has three self portraits on the back of the box, is open to interpretation even from tough critics.

“Some of them drunk soldiers might throw a beer bottle through it one Friday night,” Anthony said.

Who knows when someone is going to want to take a rat skeleton home for the night.

But the most interesting aspect of the piece at least to this untrained eye is on one of its sides. There are two monkey faces painted below the words “ideas, poems, thoughts, love notes, donations, wishes.”

There is a slit where one of the monkey’s mouth should be.

What is put in that slot will likely be just an interesting as the man who created the “Cabinet of Curiosity.”

But it should come with one warning: Be careful what you ask for.