The American Visionary Art Museum is an interesting place, sort of a frenetic pop-art explosion of self-taught artistic expression. It’s also HUGE – a sprawling three story, three building extravaganza that takes up the entire block, yet it reminded me a bit of the Lowe with its colorful curved walls and small semi-hidden galleries.
The museum also has a lot in common with another downtown institution Geppi’s (see review here) except that the curators at AVAM understand the importance of “white space” – especially with kind of schizophrenic (literally\figuratively) artwork their museum displays. This means that while there are a lot of things to look at the galleries never feel claustrophobic (except maybe that salmon one with the pen\paper drawings).
The most fascinating part of the museum is the variety of materials they display: a 5 foot long model of the cruise ship Lucitania made entirely out of toothpicks, a glass mosaic sculpture of Icarus falling from the sky and their mascot “Fifi” a large car like contraption (which they label as a “kinetic sculpture”) shaped like a french poodle.
They also have photos of crop circles, gigantic Faberge eggs as well as a collection of mechanical toys and larger scale metal sculptures, and yet they have some pieces that seem bizarrely commercial (the supposed antithesis of the museum) such as their gallery of pop-art portraits on the third floor or the psychedelic inspired prints in their “Marriage of Art, Science and Philosophy” exhibition on the second level. They even have a small collection of art made with ball-point pens.
But those are minor flaws and didn’t detract too much from the other more original pieces. I am looking forward to the opening of their exhibition in early October.