Thursday, January 23, 2014

Baltimore: American Visionary Art Museum

I recently posted on Facebook our plans to spend an afternoon in Baltimore. The forecast was for a brisk and windy day. I wanted to see something new. The overwhelming consensus was to visit the American Visionary Art Museum.

Don, Ashley and I spent about an hour walking around all three floors. The word that came to mind to describe the collection was eclectic. Ti be honest, we just didn't get it.

As we were walking out the door, a docent was preparing to lead a tour. We were so glad we joined his group! The gentleman reminded me of Jerry Stiller. He started by asking the most basic question: 

What is Visionary Art?

Um, yes, we should have figured that out by then. But, no, we hadn't. Sounds like no one else understood the concept, either, though he said middle schoolers often at least attempt to answer the question. Our middle schooler kept quiet.

Visionary artists are untrained artists who use the materials at hand to bring to life their vision of a piece of artwork.

The website describes it in a far more verbose way:

"Visionary art as defined for the purposes of the American Visionary Art Museum refers to art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself."
Many of the artworks our docent shared with us were prisoners and people in insane asylums. Ahh... slowly, through his explanations the artwork came to life. I didn't always care for the work -- such as Frank Bruno's apocalyptic art. I also didn't understand how a 3,000 piece Pez collection fits in with the theme of visionary art, but I appreciated it more. 

I also appreciated that someone took the time to create a museum dedicated solely to self-taught artists.

Thank you, Facebook friends, for the suggestion. 

Other suggestions for Baltimore included:

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