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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rockwell, Chast and DAISIES

 GodDAMN I love daisies and they were simply everywhere yesterday!

It's a funny thing being back in the Berkshires. Specifically West Stockbridge. As we, Jenny, Jeff, Michal and I motored to the Norman Rockwell Museum yesterday morning, I got a wickedly strong case of déjà vu. Yup, My mind was thrown back to the days when Mary Ann was viciously illin' and I was driving out to see her every couple of weeks.

She would’ve loved this museum. I wish we’d been able to go there together.

This odd sculpture graces the lawn of the museum. Odd only because, well, Rockwell wasn’t exactly an abstract-y, fantasy (a la hobbit and gnomes with a smackeral of Aztec-y goodness tossed in), kind of an artist. Nope. Still, this was a perfect welcome piece. The joint is, yes, about Rockwell but there’s more.

The visiting exhibit, Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs, was brilliant! Yes, her tone and style are very different from Rockwell’s *duh* but there’s a pretty wide common thread too. They both paint(ed) about the world/life around them and Rockwell could be pretty damn witty at times too.
Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.
~Norman Rockwell
I’ve seen “The Problem We All Live With,” his 1963 painting of Ruby Bridges'  history-changing walk integrating the William Frantz Public School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960 reproduced in countless magazines and newspapers but to see it live, up close and in person was something else. It took my breath away.

In one of the galleries, I was thrilled to find his hilarious painting “The Gossips.” Better still, for each of the paintings in this room, Rockwell’s source material (he worked from photographs. I work from photos. Cool!) and preliminary sketches were shown side by side with the finished piece. Too awesome to see the evolution of a painting I love!
The Roz Chast exhibit was fabulous but (there’s always a but), to fully appreciate about half of the hundreds of cartoons and illustrations on show, I had to read. There was a lot to read. I've not taken the Evelyn Woodhead Speedreading Course, don'cha know. Chast's alien abduction series (one of three or four full series presented) was utterly brill and I just had to read every word but other viewers kept crowding me out. “Were they pushing you aside?”, you ask. No but they invaded my rather extensive personal space so I’d no choice but to back off and return later.

So then, I was wild about seeing her very witty, fun work but frustrated with all the interruptions. Naturally, I had to buy her book at the gift shop. Possibly that was her nefarious plan all along?
source, sketch, painting—The Gossips

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