“It just went down. Everything in Birmingham is going down.”
One obvious exception would be what Mr. Minter calls the African Village in America, and the amazing fabrications he has raised to fill almost every square foot of his consolidated half-acre holding.
It is, by some reckonings, one of the nation’s most extraordinary and least-known sculpture gardens. Here’s a room-size re-creation of the Birmingham jail cell that held Martin Luther King Jr., surrounded by six concrete Dobermans.
There’s a monument to those murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary, including 26 pairs of flea-market shoes (“I got them for a pretty good price,” he said) and the raging rubber head of Jesse Ventura.
And everywhere else is welded iron and hand-painted biblical signage and bric-a-brac to overrun a landfill. It seems all but inevitable that Mr. Minter will eventually raise a memorial to the Boston Marathon bombing, although the only clear patch of lawn lies behind the twin towers.
The African Village also stands among the most endangered art environments: Mr. Minter serves as the site’s artist in residence, curator, docent and groundskeeper, and he just turned 70.
His installation represents one of the last great “yard shows” in Alabama, said Emily Hanna, curator of the African and American collections at the Birmingham Museum of Art. This coinage describes the culturally distinct and sometimes visionary home displays of the South.