King of the Commode
Barney Smith and His Toilet Seat Art Museum
On August 2, 1992, a former wandering evangelist and retired master plumber opened a people’s museum in his small, metal garage located in the heart of the Alamo Heights neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas. Intent on sharing his strange and wonderful artworks with the world, Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum has welcomed thousands of visitors from every state in the union and over 80 different countries since opening. Today, at 96 years old, Barney has completed more than 1,300 works of art that involve assembling, etching, collaging, and painting directly onto toilet seat lids. The subject matter of these artworks is expansive but includes tributes to community groups, colleges, and youth organizations; commemorations of birthdays, anniversaries, and grandchildren; collections of objects such as dog tags, arrowheads, pipes, and keys; and tokens of world culture including a piece of insulation from the ill-fated Challenger spaceship.
Barney Smith and his museum have been featured in Life magazine, The New York Times, National Geographic, CBS News Sunday Morning, and countless other national and international news and media outlets. In commemoration of his 95th birthday Alamo Heights named May 25, 2016 to be officially known as “Barney Smith Day.”
In early 2017, Barney decided to put the museum up for sale in the hopes of finding a buyer who will keep his collection together and available to the public free of charge. Currently, no such buyer has stepped up and the fate of the museum is unknown. Therefore, we stepped in to help document and preserve Barney’s story and life’s work. Our book, King of Commode: Barney Smith and His Toilet Seat Art Museum, will ensure that Barney’s collection is available for generations to come, but we need your help to make this happen! We need to raise $30,000 to publish and distribute the first edition this book. Our funding goal is broken down here:
$20,000 for the cost of printing and binding books
$3,000 for the costs of organizing and conducting several photoshoots of toilet seat artworks and other items for reproduction inside the book
$3,000 for the cost of designing, typesetting, and productions of the book and art files
$1,000 for the cost of writing and formatting the book manuscript
$1,000 for the cost of proofreading the book to make sure there are no errors
$2,000 for the cost of extra incentive pledge items including tote bags, buttons, posters, and post cards
Recent Press About Barney
- Roadside America
- Atlas Obscura
- Texas Monthly
- Good Housekeeping
- Miami Herald
- Barney's Facebook page
About the Book
King of the Commode is the first and only full-length book to both document and preserve the life and artwork of Barney Smith. Three essays give historical context, biographical details, photographs, ephemera, and personal illustrations, which help provide critical insights into Barney’s creative process. The second part of the book is a color plate section showcasing more than 350 photographs of toilet seat artworks. Reproduced in full color using offset printing, King of the Commode, is a beautifully designed and manufactured book, proudly made in the USA.
- Trim: 9 in. width x 10.5 in. height (22.86 cm x 26.67 cm)
- Page count: 312 (estimate)
- Binding: Smyth-sewn hardback cover, bound in cloth with foil stamp on spine and front board
- Dust jacket: printed in 4 color on matte coated paper, includes a spot gloss UV on covers and spine
- Paper: 70# uncoated white
- Inks: 4/4 offset
- Includes over 350 color and black & white photographs and illustrations
A Peek Inside the Book
Our Goal and Process
The goal of this project is to document Barney Smith and his artwork in book form, making his story and life’s work available for generations to come. His collection of artworks is currently for sale and we hope this book will inspire cultural institutions to partner with us as we continue to document and preserve the legacy of Barney Smith. In early 2017, we received word that Barney put his beloved Toilet Seat Art Museum, a treasured San Antonio attraction, on the market. As devoted fans and documentarians, we felt obligated to step in and use our expertise as book publishers and storytellers to help document and preserve the life and work of Barney Smith, who has devoted his life to community and fellowship through the arts.
Leading up to this pledge drive, we worked directly with Barney and his family to schedule and conduct interviews and to secure access to the museum and its contents. We selected and transported toilet seats from the museum to a professional photo studio in San Antonio where we cleaned, photographed, and catalogued each of the artworks. To explain who Barney is, what he does, why he does it, and why he is so special, we collaboratively authored three essays about Barney and his artwork to be included in King of the Commode. We dug through Barney’s personal archives and curated photographs and ephemera from his long, rich life. We developed a design system for the book, directly inspired by Barney and his museum, and we will manage the printing, binding, and shipping of books and pledge incentives at the end of this pledge drive.
If you are pledging a reward as a gift, do so by December 19th, message us, and we'll send you or your loved one a handmade card letting them know a gift is on its way from the Toilet Seat Art Museum!
Thank you kindly for your generosity of spirit!
Risks and challenges
Cattywampus Press is an independent publisher based in Austin, Texas, focused on producing publications by and about artists. Cofounded by Daedelus Hoffman and Lindsay Starr, we have over two decades of combined experience in both authoring and producing artist publications. This experienced team is committed to delivering high-quality books and incentives on time. Please visit our website www.cattywampuspress.com for more information about the press.
We are partnering with Sheridan Books, a highly regarded domestic book manufacturer for the printing, binding, and shipping of the books.
We will ship worldwide. Please contact us if your country is not included in the shipping choices. We will then calculate the shipping costs to your country and add it to the option list.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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