Monday, August 29, 2011

AVAM, Baltimore

The American Visionary Art Museum
Alfred E. Neuman
Smile Dress
Last Will and Testament

Between the earthquake and the hurricane, I managed to make it out to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore late last week. Lots of amazing work there and lots to think about. Their current exhibition What Makes Us Smile? was full of happy-sad work by a wide range of individuals, from outsider artists to Patch Adams, M.D. I loved the beaded Alfred E. Neuman headboard by Patty Kuzbida. It was also a unique pleasure to see the work of a Toronto friend in a huge museum show in a totally different city-- Rev. Aitor of The Misanthrope Specialty Co. had some of his infamous Unflattering Portraits in the show, and seeing them there was like seeing a familiar (ugly) face in a crowd of strangers.

After seeing the exhibition, Ben said that it was great that a museum like this exists because the things on display were "things he would have wanted to make when (he) was a kid." In saying this, he was referring to art made out of salvage, and a huge model boat made out of toothpicks (!) in particular. In so many words, I think he was implying that the work at the AVAM might encourage people to make things just for the sake of making them or follow a creative impulse that might initially seem odd or "pointless." This is an important thing for artists to keep in mind too-- there is nothing wrong with just making for the sake of making, or doing something "just because you want to." After all, experiments are the mothers of invention.


sweetie pie press said...

avam is one of the best places on earth. did you go into sideshow? that is where you would have seen my stuff (if you really dig).

Tara Bursey said...

I looked EVERYWHERE for your pins-- no sign of them! Maybe this means you need to restock? Good excuse for a visit...!

Sideshow was amazing. I got my mother a birthday gift from there, and got myself some neat little doodads for uber-cheap-- a vintage milk cap, a bone bracelet, a tiny little comb, and of course I couldn't resist buying three Rev. Aitor portrait postcards!!

Sonya Philip said...

That sounds like such an amazing museum. Must put it on the list of places to visit. And yes, making for the sake of making and experimenting - all up my alley and way of thinking. Must be the appeal.

Tara Bursey said...

If you ever make it out to the east coast Sonya, you really have to check it out. Amazing art, and amazing stories.