Wednesday, August 12, 2009

f you live in the Baltimore area and you've never been to the American Visionary Art Museum, get thee hence! It's the wackiest, sparkliest, strangest, most compelling museum I know. The premise is that all the work within is known as outsider art. This means that it comes from artists who often teach themselves, who are driven to create without the influence of the "inside" of the art world- art schools, professors, and mainstream galleries. These people are every bit as fascinating as the art they make, so be sure to read about each artist as you wander through the collection. The current exhibition hinges on the intersection between art, science, and philosophy. A lot of the artists included are scientists themselves, or philosophers of a kind, or have unique ideas about spirituality which heavily influence their body of work. Some highlights from the exhibition:

- Applique textile art by Chris Roberts-Antieau, impeccably made and often humorous (my fave = Godzilla)
- Assemblage Stegosaurus by Leo Sewell
- Patty Kuzbida's assemblage guitar, which includes most of a porcelain head of lettuce. Yup.
- Karen and Steve Alexander's crop circle photography
- Julian Harr's creepy/cool wood sculpture juxtaposing brightly painted animal parts in a mystical way
- David Anson Russo's glorious and PROFOUNDLY anal-retentive structural drawings and ceramics. Think of Escher's Relivity turned up to 11 and observed through a magnifying glass.
- Kenny Irwin Jr.'s ballpoint pen drawings- who knew pen could do that??
- Jeff Smith's cleverly disturbing Abacus, which is like a mirror universe piano.
- Walter Kitundu's wooden Birdsong Bench, which you can play like a xylephone, but don't you dare sit on it! Super neat.
- Gerald Hawkes' elaborate matchstick sculptures
- Fred Kahler's super detailed ink drawings
- Dalton Ghetti's MINUSCULE pencil graphite carvings. These are so cool I had to buy the postcard of the alphabet set. It will blow your mind.

If any of that is intruiging to you, you will certainly enjoy the permanent collection just as thoroughly! Admission is 14 bucks, 8 with student ID. They don't let you take pictures inside, but outside the museum there are plenty of sculptures and neat things to photograph and explore. There are three separate buildings, so be sure to visit each one when you go.

Also, note: the gift shop is WICKED cool. It's full of offbeat original arts and crafts, weird toys, lots of upcycled stuff, creepy jewelry, cards, and great gag gifts. I bought a gorgeous handmade basket, imported from Nepal. It's created with discarded plastic wrappers and, for costing me only 30 dollars, it's quite sizable, easily 13 inches across. It would make an awesome project to teach at school if I can figure out how to do it! What a nice opportunity to talk about recycling. I also got a long necklace made with paper beads for 20 bucks, and of course, the postcard. Go forth, friends, and visit AVAM!

1 comment:

  1. I've walked by there many a time and wondered if I should go in or if I would be disappointed. Good to know I should go in:)