You’ve probably guessed that the documentary One Bad Cat isn’t about a kitty with a nasty temper. It is about the complicated personality of an outsider artist who didn’t come to art until he was 50 years old. When he was a child, Albert Lee Wagner’s mother recognized that the boy had an artistic flair, but there was no money for an education in their Arkansas, cotton-picking, sharecropping family.
Wagner did grow up to create a successful moving company, and the money that came in overwhelmed him. He could buy what he wanted and he did what he wanted. He fell away from his religion and into the ways of sinful living. He was a drinker and a womanizer. He sired numerous children by a variety of different women, including his wife.
One day a trivial chance incident triggered a flash of insight in Albert Wagner and, recalling his childhood artistic bent, he took up painting. He not only began to paint but he returned to his faith and became a Pentecostal preacher.
The Reverend Albert Wagner was a prolific artist. Tapping into his instinct and intuition he claimed to have created over 30,000 works of art. He lived and worked for 30 years in humility and atonement for his sins. Before he died he said that he believed that God had forgiven him.
Artists, writers, teachers, gallery owners and plenty of other people visited the Reverend to speak with him and to admire, and purchase, his work.
This movie is an interesting story of redemption but with the added delight of seeing Wagner’s multitude of paintings and sculpture. And hearing his pithy observations about his life and his work.