Updated July 26, 2019.
A family Facebook posting confirms toilet seat artist Barney Smith passed away this week. He was 98. Smith’s collection is now on display at the Texas Truckyard, a night spot in The Colony in the Dallas area.
The saying goes that it’s not the medium, but the message that matters when it comes to making or appreciating art. But when the medium is unique enough, viewers take notice For proof, look no further than San Antonio, and the museum run by Barney Smith. There you’ll find a prodigious collection of art – all of it created on toilet seats.
But if you’re tempted to think such a place has little to offer, or even if you’re not sure, an Austin book publisher begs to differ. Daedelus Hoffman, co-owner of Cattywampus Press, believes so much in Smith’s museum that he published a book about it to celebrate Smith’s 97th birthday.
“We produced the book, “King of the Commode,” which chronicles and documents the life and life’s work of San Antonio folk artist, Barney Smith and his toilet seat art museum,” Hoffman says.
Hoffman says the museum is a world-famous roadside attraction.
“The museum really is a garage in Barney’s backyard – a sort of ramshackle, rusty, corrugated structure that’s filled with 1390-some-odd unique works of art that are all in the form of a toilet seat,” he says.
Hoffman says Smith created the museum at a time in life when many people finally get in touch with their passions – after retirement. And then, he says, they die a few years later.
“But Barney lived a whole other lifetime,” he says. “He lived another 30 years after he discovered a thing he really loved. And the tradeoff with that is that he also outlived everyone he really loved. So all he really has left is his artwork.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.