CULLMAN - Alabama turns 200 years old in 2019 and the birthday celebration, dubbed Alabama 200, has begun. Cullman, Alabama- based artist, Ben Johnson South, known as “The Alabama Aphorist,” is adding a savory smorgasbord of fun and laughter to the offerings by creating 200 original aphorisms about his beloved, native state in an immersive art installation he calls “THE ONE-LINER ALABAMA DINER.”
South, a former speechwriter and advertising copywriter says he was inspired by the remarks Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs made at the Alabama 200 kickoff on March 3. “Every day for several years, I’ve created a line of supposed wit. I now have a somewhat obsessive archive of 1,600+ aphorisms I’ve written. For the big, 200-year birthday, I’m scribbling with Alabama in mind. Alabama doesn’t have a more enthusiastic cheerleader. I love our state and, over the decades, I’ve worked in each of the 67 counties and have the sweet tea glasses and empty barbecue containers to prove it. I have a bushel basket of Alabama trivia to spice things up at ‘THE ONE-LINER ALABAMA DINER.’ Alabama offers a heapin’ helpin’ of happiness and fun as well as historical greatness. I want to give folks a side dish of smiles and a bowl of belly laughs amidst some of the heaviness of the Bicentennial.”
“THE ONE-LINER ALABAMA DINER” will be fun but South also intends to nudge people to think. “I’m the child of two dedicated, award-winning, Alabama teachers- longtime educators, Ben and Ruby Johnson of Cullman. They taught me you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. With this art project, I consider myself a teacher with the entire state of Alabama as a classroom. But, a main thematic lesson in my text art is ‘Serious Ain’t Solemn.’”
When people come to “THE ONE-LINER ALABAMA DINER,” South will give them a tasty serving of fresh, fun thinking as well as something to chew on. “There’s not enough brain food in this ‘Diner’ to interrupt the laughs too much. It’s mostly just fun,” said South.
The “pop up” installation South is constructing with Cullman graphic designer, Stephen Bone, will tour Alabama from 2017 - 2019. Location-specific aphorisms will freshen each town or county as the traveling show winds from Cullman to all parts of the state. To underscore the ‘diner’ theme, South is also celebrating many Alabama food treasures. Here are two written for the Alabama 200 salute, especially for Cullman (see below).
When ‘THE ONE-LINER ALABAMA DINER’ rolls into your part of the state, everyone has an open invitation. Like we’ve been saying in Alabama for 200 years, “Y’ALL COME.”