As I walked the streets of Birmingham taking in all the stuff they wanted me to see, I saw someone they didn't want me to see and he wanted to be seen.
These are the emancipated slaves and farmers and steelworkers who made Birmingham: the muscle that built the “Magic City.” 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.
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.
Yet the African Village receives no grants, no institutional support and practically no publicity. The folks who make a pilgrimage to the Minters’ little brick-faced house — maybe 300 in a year — come following rumors and stories and pictures on the Internet