Today I visited the American Visionary Art Museum just across the harbor from the Aquarium in Baltimore. It absolutely blew my mind. Here are some of the highlights:
Post Secret is an ongoing art project in which people send in anonymous postcards with secrets on them. The really juicy ones are hung in museums, included in a book, and posted on www.postsecret.blogspot.com. I got as far as the first staircase, where the postcards were hung, before security took my camera away from me 😦
Renaldo Kuhler is a scientific illustrator for the North Carolina State Museum. With his spare time and thoughts, he has invented an entire imaginary nation, complete with religion, language, and six decades worth of history. You can see the nation in hundreds (maybe thousands) of beautiful color illustrations. My favorite (so far) is his illustration of the Rocaterranian sewage treatment plant.
Vincent Nardone has been in prison for most of his life, but that hasn’t stopped him from making giant stipple drawings of the world he remembers. The most amazing thing is that all of the scenes in his artwork are from the 1950’s, using nothing but his photographic memory as a reference. Unreal. (I can’t find a good photo of one of his works, but my favorite was a scene of an entire drive-through movie theater… can you imagine remembering EXACTLY what each of those 1950’s cars looks like?)
And those are just the names that I can remember. The rest of the show included beautiful drawings sent as thank-yous to his lawyers by a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, actual Afghani rugs in which butterfly and flower patterns were replaced by helicopters and tanks, and a mini art museum created by a man who had re-painted every one of his favorite classical paintings (by the thousands) onto boards roughly the size of business cards.
If you’re ever in Baltimore, check out the American Visionary Art Museum.