One day, in San Antonio, Texas, a retired plumber searched for a mounting for a set of deer antlers. Considering his former profession, he found an old toilet seat cover as an appropriate plaque. Thus began Barney Smith’s toilet seat art.
The 89-year-old man has since created several hundred unique toilet seats. Each toilet-seat canvas he uses is a recycled cover, made of wood, never plastic. Mr. Smith paints, glues, and engraves the toilet seats, often incorporating objects sent to him from people around the world.
Some series in his toilet seat collection include features on North American license plates, commemorations of special moments in his personal life, marijuana, television shows, and everyday items. While a special toilet seat is dedicated to his 60th wedding anniversary, Mr. Smith’s wife has banished her husband and his art to the garage. Taking advantage of his own space, Mr. Smith uses his garage as both a studio and a museum.
Over 1,000 visitors seek out the toilet seat art yearly, and Mr. Smith enjoys serving as a personal guide. None of the toilet seat covers are for sale, and Mr. Smith will entrust his collection to his daughter upon his death.
Despite the uniqueness of his work, Mr. Smith is not the first man to decorate toilet seats. The late John A. Kostopoulus, another American retiree, was deemed the King of Toilet Seat Arts for his painting of toilet seat rims. Based in California, Mr. Kostopoulus decorated the fence surrounding his home with his art. Sadly, upon his death, most of Mr. Kostopoulus’ collection was destroyed.