By Sanford365 Contributing Writer Diana Shotko
Upon walking into the Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery on a rainy Sanford Art Walk Friday night, I didn’t know what to expect when I came to view the Butch Anthony “Needle and Thread” opening reception.
When thinking of needle and thread, my feeble attempts at sock darning come to mind. The artist was unknown to me and the concept of needlework as art piqued my interest. Leaving the gallery, I got a better understanding of how the simple use of two objects can create such hauntingly beautiful pieces.
My favorite piece was the Berghia Stephanieae – a mixed use of embroidery floss, beads, and applique on a painted canvas. A photograph on a website does this beauty no justice – she must be experienced firsthand to really get how intricate the detailing is. In addition to the embroidered pieces, Mr. Anthony’s signature pieces of bone portraits were on full display. To say that his sense of humor is dark is an understatement.
I, like the crowd, was amused by the everyday expressions drawn onto cabinet cards and how school portraits of unfamiliar faces were incorporated into sketches and writings. His drawing of bones over sepia photos dating back to early America can be seen as morbid at first; as I continued to gaze on them, I found them as a celebratory – similar to what can be seen during the Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) celebrations in Mexico. Mr. Anthony is not dishonoring those in the photographs – he’s resurrecting them with new life through their use in his art.
My only regret is that the artist wasn’t there to greet that night (the gallery website stated that “a certain river expedition on an art raft has him otherwise occupied”), I left having learned a great deal about his quirky persona and feeling as though we’d already made our introductions.