During our recent trip to Stevenson, Alabama, we were really looking forward to returning to a place we had visited during our travels through Alabama two years ago. Brown Folk Art was one of those off-the-beaten-path treasures that we stumbled upon when we got lost while looking for another really amazing place, Walls of Jericho, a 21,000 acre wildlife management area situated on the Tennessee/Alabama state line. The Walls of Jericho is located where the longest hardwood forested plateau on Earth, the Cumberland, thrusts into Alabama. Its environment is also influenced by the Paint Rock River Basin, one of the last free-flowing rivers in the Southeastern United States. This combination creates a spectacularly diverse array of habitats, plants, and animals found nowhere else in this country. Someday, we plan visit and to enjoy some lengthy exploration of this area.
As we wandered by, we were astonished to see Mr. Brown’s menagerie of handmade yard and folk art spread out across several acres of rolling Alabama farmland. We immediately turned the van around when we saw the sign letting us know that “there is no other place like this place anywhere near this place, so this must be the place”. Who can resist that kind of enticement?
We were treated to a tour of the property, which included several small outbuildings full of folk art and cabins that were being built or restored for rental. You can see the post Dan created about our visit to this fascinating place by following this link: https://dancordray.com/2016/04/27/this-must-be-the-place/, or by scrolling down through our Instagram feeds, @twentyonefeathers and @dancordray for more photographs of our visit.
When we traveled through the area last year, we saw Mr. Brown’s sign and some of his creations at a shop in downtown Stevenson. The store was closed, so we made a mental note and planned to visit this year during the annual Southeast Get-Together of nomadic folk at nearby Raccoon Creek Wildlife Management Area. We made a stop this year, only to find that the shop was again closed.
Dan followed the trail of whimsical sculptures around the corner of the building and was immediately drawn by the sight of Professor A J R Graham’s Odditorium, located within and also on the grounds surrounding a quirky 1920’s era Sears mail order catalog home. The shop’s owner, Redmond Graham, was more than happy to allow us to explore at will this jam-packed wooden structure, chock full of treasures from days gone by and original artwork, with some items consisting of an off-the-wall and frequently hilarious combination of the two.
We truly enjoyed hearing Redmond’s stories about this unique homestead and another home located directly behind it, as well as the history of the Stevenson area and his decision to create this unusual collection of wondrous items. He is in the process of opening a small cafe onsite, and has quite a gift for spinning a yarn and creating eye-catching works of art from recycled and reclaimed goods.
We were allowed to sift through piles of raw materials and art supplies in the upstairs portion of the home, and we purchased a few small treasures to remind us of this day and our visit with Redmond in his “Odditorium”. Have a look at the video below that Dan created to share our visit with you, our followers. We were invited back anytime, and we plan to come again next year and have a meal in his new cafe! If you are traveling through Stevenson, don’t miss a chance to visit this fascinating museum/shop/cafe, and tell Redmond we said hello!
Happy trails, y’all!
Get out, be safe, and go adventure!
~Brenda (soon to be Cordray) 🙂