Last Look Before the Curtain Descends

Deborah Berger (1956-2005) "Mask" Knitted orlon 26 1/2 x 33 1/4 x 13" Collection American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, gift of the Art Council of New Orleans, FIC.2014.67 Photo by Mary Dwan Courtesy American Visionary Art Museum

Deborah Berger (1956-2005) “Mask” Knitted orlon
26 1/2 x 33 1/4 x 13″
Collection American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, gift of the Art Council of New Orleans, FIC.2014.67
Photo by Mary Dwan
Courtesy American Visionary Art Museum

Hurry and see “When the Curtain Never Comes Down” , the wonderful exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum  before it closes on July 5th.  I have to say this has been one of my favorites, showcasing the work of 27 self-taught artists from various countries, who have incorporated some form of public performance in their art.  Several of the artists (Vahan Poladian, Charlie Logan)  made highly ornate costumes – coats, pants, jackets festooned with beads, coins, found objects and often with elaborate embroidery – think Elvis or Liberace – which they would wear when they went into town. One artist, Palmerino Sorgente, thought he was the Pope, and created elaborate Papal hats.   Giuseppe Versino crafted coats and pants from cleaning rags, which he would tear apart and reweave into complete garments, which he wore, even though they could weigh up to 100 pounds.  Deborah Berger knitted elaborate masks, one of which is in the photo at left.

I was a bit overwhelmed trying to think about the planning and labor that went into making each of these costumes, – the deliberateness of their construction, the care in their ornamentation – and how they transformed not only their wearers, but also the materials that went into their fabrication.

Not all the artists shown personally transformed themselves.  Bill Anhang imbued his cast aluminum hats and breast plates with LED lights.  Others created machines, sculptures, writings, structures, light art and sound art.  No matter what the art work, it is clear that a lot of love went into their creation, and they each had deep personal meaning for the artist.

In addition to the exhibits, there are oftentimes accompanying videos, photos or sound recordings which provide an extra dimension to the displays.

This show is worth rearranging your day for.

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