November 24, 2023

Robert Lemaire, Jardin avec constructions cinétiques et autres décorations / Garden with kinetic constructions and other decorations

all photos (by Hubert Bouvet) published here in agreement with
the Inventaire Générale région Hauts de France

On the front of a house along the Rue Nationale in the commune of Sains-en-Gobelle in Northern France, about 40 km south-west of Lille, decorations can still be seen that refer to the years 1980/1999, when particularly in the backyard a special art environment was created,

The surrounding images show the striking feature of this site, namely a number of kinetic constructions in the shape of multi-colored windmills.

Life and works

This art environment was created by Robert Lemaire (1924-2010), who was born in Hersin-Coupigny, near Sains-en-Gohelle, in a family with parents and a brother who were familiar with technology. His mother owned a hardware store, his father was a farrier and his older brother was a plumber.

So it is understandable that young Robert also went in a technical direction. At around 20 years old, he entered the training center of a mining company in Noeux-les-Mines. also near Sains-en-Gohelle, where he received technical training, such as how to work with a lathe.

Lemaire got a job at the mining company as a fitter, in which he worked for many years. He liked to that job because of its precise and meticulous nature, but also a bit because of the noise that came with it. 

When the mining company was closed in the context of the general cessation of coal mining in Northern France, he went to work as a metal worker at a fertilizer factory, where he was granted early retirement in 1979.

Creating colorful windmills

Now 55 years old, Lemaire wasn't the type to take it easy. He started using his skills in working with metal to decorate his living environment with beautiful kinetic constructions in the form of colorful windmills. 

He had bought the house in 1954 and renovated it to live there with his wife from around 1955, but he had not yet paid any attention to the garden. So decorating the garden became his project for the 1980s/1990s.

Using all kinds of everyday items, such as bicycle wheels, iron bowls, rubber balls cut in half, plastic bottles, and the like, he made an ensemble of artistic windmills. all with their own design and with 
component parts welded together where necessary.

All creations were vividly painted with bright colors.

Other decorations

To the kinetic constructions that give the site its special character, Lemaire also added all kinds of decorations, such as animal figures standing in the garden, some of which were not made himself but purchased.

The above red-colored ladybug with many white dots, is one of the first stand alone creations of an animal that Lemaire made.

Elsewhere in the garden are welded metal roosters, one formed from iron chains, the other from metal discs.

Using other metal items, like hubcaps from cars as shown in the image above, Lemaire also made decorations. This image was added to a wall of a shed at the edge of the garden.

The person with a hat is Subito, a cartoon character known in France, created in 1936 by the cartoonist Robert Velter (known as Bozz).

In the image above there is a small figure in the upper right that appears to reside in higher realms, (birds, space vehicles} and sends a lightning bolt to a structure of yellow and green stripes below.

Current situation

Robert Lemaire passed away on October 7, 2010

Today, (2023) a daughter of Lemaire lives in the house along the Route Nationale. She makes every effort to maintain parts of the art environment, but it is not always possible to prevent parts of the site from deteriorating.

* Article on the website of the Inventaire Générale région Hauts de France (I would like to acknowledge that the above post is based largely on the information available in this article)

Robert Lemaire
Garden with kinetic constructions and other decorations
8 route National
Sains-en-Gohelle, dept Pas-de-Calais, region Hauts-de-France, France
part of the decorations can be seen from the street

November 17, 2023

Gérard Brion, Le Petit Paris / Little Paris

the Eiffel Tower as created in 1984
this picture and the next five courtesy of Gérard Brion

In the field of art environments the Eiffel Tower in Paris is a building that is often chosen to replicate by non-professional artists who express themselves in creating singular architecture. Some examples are mentioned at the end of this post. 

The replica of the Eiffel Tower in the image above was made in 1984 by Gerard Brion when he was 14 years old. He made the vertical elements of the structure as such from wood and the connecting crossings from corrugated sheet metal.

Life and works

The tower rose in the vegetable garden of a house, located in the green and open rural area of the municipality of Vaissac, a small community of now some 600 inhabitants in the Tarn et Garonne department of France.

view of the Seine with partly Eiffel Tower

Gérard Brion, who grew up in this house, was already at the age of five making all kinds of drawings, sometimes even including perspective. As a boy he also enjoyed painting and gardening.

He also thought of making miniatures, an idea he realized when in 1984 he saw a TV program about the Champs Elysées in Paris.

So at age 14 he made a replica of the Eiffel Tower and this was the start of a creative project in which he reconstructed in miniature the area in Paris near the tower: the striking buildings, the bridges over the Seine, the roads with busy car traffic, the trees along the roads.... 
Place de l'Obélisque

Brion had never been to Paris (that only happened when he was 25), so he did not have his own photos of buildings around the Eiffel Tower and he had to use images in magazines and books to replicate 40 characteristic buildings of the area. In addition, the replicas all had to be manufactured in the same 1:130 scale.

Using recycled materials, Brion built this art environment entirely by hand.

The images in this post show that he has succeeded wonderfully in producing replicas that correspond to reality. an this not only in terms of the similarity of the buildings, but also because of the representation of the liveliness of the great city that is Paris.

In this way it happened that in the vegetable garden of his parental home, on an area of some 500 m², gradually the miniature creation Petit Paris emerged.

Arc de Triomphe 

This development, however, went unnoticed by the general public. In all probability only people from the Vaissac area knew about it.

In the mid-1990s, when the site was already of a certain size, it had not yet been opened to visitors. Brion had moved to Brignoles in the south of France, more than 550 km away. and his father was already beginning to consider abolishing the creation.

But an event occurred that led to the official opening of the site. it's further development and a continuation with many visitors. On August 31, 1997, Lady Diana, member of the British royal family, lost her life in a car accident the tunnel of the Pont de l'Alma in Paris, a place that was part of the site of miniatures. 

Sympathetic residents from the area laid flowers at the location in question. Petit Paris became a place of pilgrimage, and got unparalleled publicity in national newspapers and TV broadcasts, which not only led to a large flow of visitors, but also to an irrepressible national fame.

Brion returned to Vaissac to help his father deal with the flow of visitors and the events made him decide to restart the further development of the site.
Notre Dame
And so it happened that in 2002 Petit-Paris officially opened as a tourist attraction. 

Brion's collection of reproductions he had made of paintings in the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Mona Lisa included, was added to the site, a small-scale museum called Petit Louvre.

Another new part of the site was la Petite-France, a place where famous French buildings can be seen in miniature, such as castles along the Loire and the Cathedral of Strasbourg.

Intended relocation of the site to another location

Currently (2023) Gerard Brion intends to move the art environment, which has been open to the public for more than twenty years, to a location in the community of Champagne in the Chharente Maritime department, an area in France bordering the Atlantic Ocean. He already owns a 3-hectare site there.

The p[an has been explained in detail on a separate website Projet Petit Paris. There is a possibility of co-financing the new project.

The website includes a video (see below) with information about the realization and design of the current art environment. The intended move should be completed in 2025.

Assemblée Nationale

Website of Le Petit Paris
* Facebook account of Le Petit Paris 
Entry on TripAdvisor with a series of photos
Article on website Vivre Paris
Article (August 2023) in regional journal L'Opinion 
* Website Projet Petit Paris about the relocation of the site


* Video (September 2023) on the site of NEO on Facebook with Gérard Brion talking about the development of Petit Paris

* Video (YouTube, May 2023, 7'37" by Petit Paris Parc

Here are some examples of art environments in this blog that feature the Eiffel Tower: Henri Travert in France, Henk Olthof in the Netherlands, Albert Diekmann in Germany, Jaan Alliksoo in Estonia and Atom Grigoryan in Russia.

Gérard Brion
Petit Paris
3225 route des Teularios,
82800 Vaissac, dept Tarn et Garonne, region Occitanie, France
visitors welcome
Google Maps, with pictures

November 11, 2023

Fifteenth anniversary of this weblog

a sculpture by Fernand Châtelain,
courtesy of Marcello 13 (Flickr)

Bonjour aux promeneurs, Hello walkers,

Today, November 11, 2023 this weblog exists fifteen years. Up till now it includes 635 reviews of art environments in Europe made by non-professional artists.

As in previous years here are some data about numbers and origin of visitors of this blog and about most viewed art environments.

Number of visitors

On November 10th, 2022 the all time number of visitors was 1,141.432. 

On November 10th, 2023 it was 1,252.316,  so there is an increase of 110.884 visitors, or on the average 305 visitors a day. 

Over the period 2021-2022 the average was 521, and the year before it was 257. The average number of visitors over 2021/22 may have been an outlier, around 300 visitors per day being the usual number.

All time page views by country

As in previous years here is the all time rank of countries as regards page-views (4000 >, as on November 10)

        Netherlands 221000
        United States 181000
        Ireland 139000
        United Kingdom 107000
        France 76000
        Italy 61000
        Germany 38000
        Russia 36000
        Australia 23000
        Spain 16000
        Poland 12000
        Singapore 12000
        Canada 8000
        Hungary 8000
        Japan 7000
        Austria 4000
        Belgium 4000
        Greece 4000
        Indonesia 4000
        Other 136000
This overview shows that apart from Australia, Singapore, Japan and Indonesia, most visitors come from the countries in North America and in Western and Eastern Europe, which is pretty much the target group this weblog wants to reach.   

Most viewed sites all time

        1.  Robert Garcet, Belgium, Eben-Ezer Tower, 6647
        2   Bill and Elisabeth Charge, England UK, Watford shell garden, 6612
        3.  Joseph Ferdinand Cheval, France, Palais Idéal, 6598
        4.  John and Jo Mew, Braylsham Castle, England UK, 6005
        5.  Polina Rayko, Ukraine, Decorated House, 5708      
        6.  Sidney Dowdeswell, England UK. Mosaic and shell garden, 5172
        7.  Jose Maria Garrido, Spain,  El Museo del Mar, 5162
        8.  Oreste Fernando Nannetti, Italy, Wall inscriptions, 4875
        9.  Roy McCormack, England UK, Beach flint sculpture garden,, 4846
      10.  Robert Tatin, France, Maison des champs, 4840
Bill and Elisabeth Charge, Watford shell garden, who have been in first place in recent years, are now in second place

 Chomo, France, Préludian arthave left the top ten, to be replaced by John and Jo Mew, who in the 1990s singlehandedly constructed Braylsham Castle and Sidney Dowdeswell, who in 1921 began transforming the garden of his house into a mosaic and shell garden.
The art environment by Polina Rayko (1928-2004) from Ukraine whose decorated house was located in the war zone near Kherson, increased in the number of visitors. In the context of Russia's war with Ukraine, in early June 2023 a dam on the Dnieper River was blown up, causing a tidal wave that destroyed all the decorations on the walls of Polina's house.

Next an overview of places 11 to 20:

     11. Bodan Litnianski, France, Garden of shells,, 4770
     12. Chomo, France, Préludian art, 4669
     13. Karl Junker, Germany, Junker's House,  4634
14. José Garcia Martin, Canaries, Spain, Sculpture garden, 4599
     15. Gustav Nagel, Germany, Paradise Garden, 4536
     16. Abbé Fouré, France, Sculpted rocks, 4468
  Joseph Pujiula i Vila, Spain, Labyrinth, 4452
     18. Stephen Wright, England UK, House of dreams museum, 4224
     19, Francisco González Grajera, Spain, Decorated house, 4097
     20. Julius Klingebiel, Germany, Decorated room, 4086
Raymond Isidore, France, Maison Picassiette, 4046 and Erich Bödeker, Germany, Sculpture garden, 3922, have left the top twenty.

Considering the countries that appear in the top twenty, we see that mainly those from Western Europe are represented (England UK, France, Spain, Germany. Belgium and Italy).

As in the overview November 2021-November 2022 Ukraine is represented again with Polina Rayko's decorated house.

The difference between Western and Eastern Europe in terms of visits to sites partly has to do with the fact that I only after a number of years started to systematically focus on Eastern Europe, but it is also related to the lesser awareness of the phenomenon of art environments in those countries.

So to get an impression of what's going on in these areas, here is is an overview of the most visited sites in Eastern Europe and Russia:


These are the most visited sites in Russia (>1500 views) 

      1. Alexander Emelyanov, Decorated garden, 2889
      2. Sergey Kirillov, Decorated house, 2296
      3. Alexander Ladogina, Church, 2151
      4. Lyudmila Kneller, Mosaic decorations, 2031
      5. Yuri Antonov, Museum the Temple of Homer, 2023
      6. Yevgeny Malakhin (artist name Bukashkin), Paint the garbage, 1914
      7. Alexander Alekseeva, The old park in Kabardinka, 1785
      8. Petr Zhurilenko, Sculpture garden1769
      9. Ivan Pisarenko, Replicas of Kremlin classics, 1571
    10. Egor Utrobin, Sculpture garden, 1567
The ranking is almost the same as a year ago, except that Yuri Antonov is a newcomer. The article about his indoor art environment was published in June 2022 and already reached a high position this past year.

East European countries

And here are data about the East-European countries Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine (number of visitors >1500)

Czech Republic
     1. František Rint, Ossuary, 3322
     2. Vàclav LevýRock sculptures, 2985
     3. Anežka Kašpárková and Marie Jagošová, Decorated chapel, 2239
     4. Vojtech Kopic, Sculpted rocks1801
     5. Frantiska Blechová, Fairytale garden, 1577

Frantiska Blechová has joined the overview of most visited sites in Ukraine

     1. Decorated village of Čičmany, 1884
     2. Martin Sabaka, Replicas of famous buildings, 1704

The overview of Slovakia (with five art environments in the weblog) is unchanged

     1. János Csere, Bugaszeg estate, 1778
     2. Zoltán Alekszi, Replicas of Hungarian castles. 1712
     3. István Taródi, Tarodi Castle, 1500

This is the first time that visits to sites in Hungary have been included in this overview. All three sites listed are dedicated to singular architecture.

    1. Bogdan ZiętekInterior with sculptures2734
    2. Felicja Curylowa, Decorated house, (Zalipie), 2131
    3. Boguslawa Iwanowskiego, Sculpture garden, 1882
    4. Krystyna and Eugeniusz Msciwojewscy, Garden with wooden sculptures, 1570
    5Henryk Sawko, Stone park, 1561
    6. Danuta Szudzińska, House with frescoes, 1503

The number of art environments in Poland with more than 1,500 visitors has been expanded with the fresco-decorated house of Danuta Szudzińska, who passed away in 2021.

    1. Polina Rayko, Decorated house, 5708
    2. Nicholas Golovan, Decorated house, 2330
    3. Stanislav Sartsevich, Sculpture garden, 2248
    4. Vladimir Chaika, Decorated stairwell, 1740

The overview of Ukraine has not changed compared to last year, but the number of visitors to the article about Polina Rayko's site has increased so much that it is already listed in the overview of most visited sites.

So much for looking back at what happened in 2022/23 in this weblog in terms of most visited sites out of the 600+ reviews it includes. 

This quantitative perspective is just one of the ways to approach the creations discussed in this weblog. Perhaps a different, more substantive approach can be developed in the future. For the time being, there are still discoveries of creations that are worth a description in the framework as developed in this weblog.


November 03, 2023

Fedor Alexandrovich Zhiltsov, Пугала в саду / Scarecrows in the garden

 photos (around 1980) by A.S. Milovsky

The creation in the image above is one of more than thirty scarecrows that in the 1970s/80s decorated a garden located in Vertlovo, a small village in the Yaroslavl region of Russia, about 250 km northeast of Moscow.

Life and works

This rather special art environment was created by Fedor Alexandrovich Zhiltsov (1900-1984), who was born into a peasant family in the village of Chukholza, near Vertlovo. 

The photo below shows him in old age, sitting next to one of his creations, and looking at another.

As a young boy Zhiltsov loved to draw pictures and he also enjoyed cutting out all kinds of figures from paper, a skill he had learned from his mother. There was also a resident in the village who had a hand-painted scarecrow in front of his house, an example that inspired Zhiltsov when he later started doing this himself.

When he was eleven years old, he worked for eight years as a laborer on a farm outside his hometown and after this job he had to serve in the Tsar's army, fighting in the wars of that time.

After his time in the army, Zhiltsov developed himself as a veterinarian, mainly caring for horses. He married when he was 29, the couple settled in Vertlovo and they got three sons and a daughter. 

Retired in 1960, Zhiltsov began making scarecrows, at first to scare birds away from his garden, but later mainly because of the satisfaction he got from making such creations. He made them freehand, without using any pattern or drawing, working elongated poles of ash wood with an axe, a saw and a knife as his only tools.

The scarecrows got a human appearance by providing them with a headgear, a face, red lips and the suggestion of an upper and lower body. His scarecrows had movable arms, one pointing upwards, the other downwards. Connected to an axis the arms could rotate, rising en felling alternately.

The images in this post mainly show isolated creations, but in the art environment as a whole there were also some ensembles to be seen, often military-like groups led by a commander. One of Zhiltsov's sons was also depicted as a young soldier, together with his young wife in a blue dress, both waving to each other.

Residents of the village of Vertlovo, which today has few inhabitants, brought Zhiltsov items to dress up his creations, such as buttons, belts, medals, swords and pots that could serve as caps. They also asked him to make a scarecrow for their own garden, which he did.

Zhiltsov's art environment got little publicity

In the early 1980s, Zhiltsov was interviewed by Alexander Sergejewitsj Milovsky, who prepared a book on Russian folk art, which was published in 1982 entitled Скачи, добрый единорог (Ride, Good Unicorn).

This probably is the only publication with a good description of the art environment and its creator. I would like to acknowledge that the text of this post is based upon the information in the article in Milovsky's book.

But then, in 2004, an article was published in a Yaroslav's newspaper, informing its readers about the creation of a museum dedicated to scarecrows. The article briefly mentions Fedor Zhiltsov and his art environment. It is reported that Zhiltsovs died in 1984 and that his house became neglected and empty, with a collapsed roof and a completely overgrown garden. It is also was stated that several scarecrows manufactured by Zhiltsov, came into the possession of relatives and neighbors.

Milovsky's book

A wooden sculpture of a man with rotating arms like Zhiltsov made, can also be found in the art environment made in the 1990s by Anatoly Varlamov. On the roof of his house stood a sculpture of astronaut Yuri Gagarin with arms rotating along his body. This site has also gradually disappeared.

* Alexander Sergejewitsj Milovsky, Скачи, добрый единорог (Ride, Good Unicorn), PDF-edition, 1982, -196 p
* Article (September 2004) on the website of a newspaper published in the Yaroslavl region

Fedor Alexandrovich Zhiltsov
Vertlovo, Yaroslavl region, Russia
this site doesn't exist anymore

October 27, 2023

Georgy Bonza, Оформленный снаружи и внутри / Decorated exterior and interior

this image and the next two from website Moi Mir

The image above shows an art environment in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, a country located in Eastern Europe between Romania and Ukraine. Moldova was part of the USSR for many years, but became an independent republic in 1991.

Life and works

This now disappeared art environment, comprising a front garden and an interior full of decorative creations, was created by Georgy Bonza, about whom virtually no biographical information can be found on the internet. 

It is not clear in what year he was born or whether he got any specific education. However, it is known that he entered into a marriage, but that his wife left him, partly because he often spent whole nights making all kinds of creations.

It is also known that Georgy Bonza died in the late 1980s.

In the image above Bonza is seated on the steps to the door of his house, surrounded by columns decorated with streamers, and with a pair of large human sculptures on his right. He looks like a grown man, perhaps about fifty years old.

At the top right of the image one can see the number 47, a referral to the number of Bonza's house in a street that then was named.Irkutskaya Street.

The image below gives a better view of the part of the outer wall to the right of the entrance. The streamers continue and there are numerous small-scale decorations such as a fruit basket and all kinds of people's heads

Fencing and front garden

The fence that separates the front garden from the street is well worth a closer look. It was decorated by a long line of sculptures of boys and girls holding hands. This is a design that, to my knowledge, is completely unique in the European field of art environments.

The first photo of this post and the one below show this specific aspect of this art environment.  

The image above also gives to some extent an impression of the creations that adorned the front garden. So at the right end of the fence there was a large figure blowing a musical instrument in the shape of a long pipe, a kind of bagpiper, but in a different cultural context.

The space between the fence and the house included many more characters, such as the busts of Russian political leaders Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev, and the astronaut Yuri Sagarin.

And then there were many more characters, such as the little boy wielding a fishing rod (?) below.

this image and the next two
from website Moi Mir

There was also a fountain with all kinds of figures, there were representations of various  animals, such as birds and a snake that was planning to explore the roof.

To complete the impression of this part of the site, two more images below, on the left the mailbox in the shape of a large frog and on the right a rabbit, carrying a heavy load.

The interior of the house

The interior of the house, like the front garden, was richly provided with all kinds of decorations, such as masks, paintings and high reliefs on the walls and many sculptures, including one of Leonid Brezhnev, who led the Soviet Union after Khrushchev.

this image and the next one from website

Attention was also paid to local celebrities, as reflected in the image below of Chisinau-based famous wrestler Ivan Zaikin (1880-1948).

A special item in the interior was a coffin on a table in the middle of the room where rested a realistically depicted old lady with a headscarf, his passed away mother, as Bonza explained.

House with chimeras

Residents of Chisinau have referred to Bonza's art environment as a Дом с химерами (House of Chimeras). This is also the designation used in the Old Chisinau website (see documentation) that offers them a discussion platform.

Applied to the art environment, and by extension to Bonza as the creator, this equivocation could mean that there are at least two qualities associated with the creation, a beautiful side, such as a series of wonderful sculptures, and a somewhat scary side, as might be in particular reflected in the exhibited coffin.

* Article (September 2017) on website Moi Mir
* Discussion on the Old Chisinau website
* Article on the local website

Gregory Bonza
Decorated exterior and interior
Irkutskaya street, 47 (nowadays V. Kupcha street)
Chisinau, Moldova
this art environment doesn't exist anymore

October 20, 2023

Frédéric Paranthoën, Sculptures dans et à proximité de la maison / Sculptures in and near the house

this photo and the next three (1981) courtesy of Francis David 
as on the website Habitants-Paysagistes, Lille Art Museum

The image above takes us back to the 1980s, when the scene shown could be seen in Royan, a municipality in France, located on the right side of the Gironde River, where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

Life and works

The sculptures, that reside so casually on the lawn, were created by Frédéric Paranthoën (1902-1983) and were part of an art environment that for a large part also was displayed in Paranthen's house, located near the lawn.

This art environment has now disappeared and it is unclear whether there are any remains anywhere.

Paranthoën initially became a professional sailor, active in many countries around the world. Later he worked in sea fishing until his retirement in the mid-1960s.

As often happens with retirees, he now had time to focus on a hobby, which for him meant being actively involved in the creative field. He first focused on making small, often light-footed sculptures, made from all kinds of materials. 

After some time he had produced about 400 creations, which were placed on various spots in his house.

Now that Paranthoën had found his purpose in making sculptures, he moved on to making larger creations from cement. As the image above shows, for this purpose Paranthoën had a well-equipped studio at his disposal.

He mainly created animals, such as small deer, chimpanzees, snakes, wild animals, antelopes, dogs and cats, but he also ventured into portraying women.

Although his house had a small garden, it does not appear that Paranthoën has provided it with a permanent display of sculptures. The lawn filled with sculptures in the first two images, looks like a public space, temporarily equipped with sculptures in 1981 for the purpose of making photos.

Paranthoën apparently preferred to keep his sculptures in indoor spaces.

The image below gives an impression of such an arrangement of sculptures indoors, perhaps in the garage belonging to the house. We see a large number sculptures of animals, and on the right some representations of ladies.

Paranthoën died in 1993 and it is now clear that his collection of sculptures no longer exists. The internet has no sources to tell what happened to them.

* Entry about Paranthoën on the website Habitants-Paysagistes (Lille Art Museum), with photographs by Francis David
* Remarks about Paranthoën on the weblog of Bruno Montpied (In his book Les gazouillis des Éléphants, Paris, 2017, Montpied has devoted an article to this non-professional artist) 

Frédéric Paranthoën
Sculptures in and near the house
Avenue du Maréchal Leclerc
Royan, dept Charente-Maritime, region Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France 
site doesn't exist anymore

October 08, 2023

Antonio Montañez, Casa Museo Axarquía / Axarquia House Museum

this image and the next four are screenprints from
the first video in the documentation

The beautifully designed and richly decorated building, shown above and in the next two images, is located in El Valdés, a district of the city of Moclinejo in the coastal area in the south of Spain. El Valdés has some 530 inhabitants.

This singular architecture was built single handedly by Antonio Montañez.

Life and works 

Montañez was born in El Valdés in 1951. At the age of 19 he started working as a carpenter. In the marriage he entered into in 1976, he would have two children.

His carpentry workshop grew into a large company of 2000 m2 in the field of furniture and kitchen furnishings, located  in Alhaurin de la Torre and named Cocinas Montañez. It had more than 40 employees in 1990. However, due to the credit crisis, which arose in the summer of 2007 and reached a peak in the autumn of 2008, Montañez had to sell his company to be able to pay the employees.

From 2011 to 2019 he was Councilor for Culture in the municipality of Moclinejo.

Creating a singular architecture

In 2003 Montañez bought a terrain in the built-up area of El Valdés. 

Here he wanted to realize a dream that told him to build a beautifully shaped, high-rising building, as creatively decorated as possible. His dream also had to do with what he saw happening when residents renovated their homes and produced containers, lining the streets full of remnants of wooden floors, bars, windows and other items. Over the years he gathered an extensive collection of these discarded items, which he could now draw on to realize his creation.
Montañez managed to realize his dream in just one year and in 2005 the Casa Museo Axarquia, was inaugurated. Initially intended as a weekend residence, it became a museum, but then with facilities to eventually stay during the weekend.

The name of the museum refers to a region near El Valdés called Axarquía, a name dating from the time of Moorish rule, which in Arabic means Land in the East (as Algarve means Land in the West).


a decorated staircase

The house has a floor area of approximately 300 square meters, spread over five floors. The 19th century materials with which the museum is equipped, give visitors the feeling that they are stepping back into earlier times.

Montañez put a lot of love and attention into the construction and the furnishing of the interior. The rooms in the house are richly filled with antique furniture and all kinds of items which he collected over about forty years, such as gramophones, cameras. a jukebox, typewriters.....

And furthermore, there are about 200 works of art, created by about 30 regional painters, ceramists and sculptors. All furniture and decorative items contribute to the stylization of the interior.

One of the rooms in the house is richly stocked with bottles of wine bottled by wine producers in the Andalusia region.

Other aspects 

On a square near the house a children's playground has been created, with all kinds of colorful and decorated equipment, a gift from Montañez to El Valdés.

As said, for Montañez the Casa Museo has the character of a weekend house. The museum is in principle open to the public on every first Saturday of the month, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Barring special circumstances, Montañez will then be present to welcome visitors.

Montañez' house in Torremolinos

It isn't entirely clear in which year Montañez started decorating the facade of the house in Torremolinos, 45 km west of El Valdés. where he lives with his family. Images on Google Streetview show that decorations can already be seen in 2010.

The second video in the documentation, made in 2023, shows that the house in Torremolinos has a facade provided with a colorful set of decorations. Other than with regard to the museum Axarquia, the internet hasn't reports about the realization of these decorations.

the house of Montanez in Torremolinos
as on the video made in 2023)
Website of the Casa Museo
* Article (June 2019) in regional journal La Opinion de Malaga on the occasion of Montanez' resignation from the Moclinejo City Council
Article (June 2021) about the Casa Museo by Javier Almellones in newspaper Sur

* Video (YouTube, 1'08", 2015) by Canal Andalucia Turismo with views of the Casa Museo 

* Video (YouTube, 12'35", July 2023) with a view of Montañez' decorated house in Torremolinos 

Antonio Montañez
Casa Museo Axarquia 
Ermita street, 6,
El Valdés, Moclinejo, dept Málaga, region Andalusia, Spain
visitors welcome first Saturday of the month, 10-14 hrs
the decorated house in Torremolinos is on 7 Tirreno Street, no visits