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Art, Science & Philosophy @ AVAM

On October 4th, the American Visionary Art Museum will open The Marriage of Art Science and Philosophy, a sprawling exhibit of 50 artists. It includes 112-year-old Frank Calloway from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, one the oldest living men in America. Calloway creates works of rhythmic mathematical patterns in crayon and pen on butchers' paper, which can be hundreds of feet long.

Since being diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1952, he has lived in a series of mental health centers and began drawing after a law suit desegregated the Alabama health system and therapeutic activities were instituted, including art. Calloway, fascinated by math, takes time to calculate the number of objects in his drawings, reciting the 18-times table multiplied by three-digit figures (18x111=1,998 etc) as he works. The work is child-like, with a southern Grandma Moses appeal. Mr Calloway flew to Baltimore on Thursday, his first time on an airplane; the Southwest pilot let him sit in his seat upon landing.

Kenny Irwin makes intricate drawings of his dreams using ball point pens. He was born in 1974 in Palm Springs, California, where his father owned the La Mancha Resort. For Baltimore readers, his mother was the daughter of Carroll Rosenbloom, former owner of the Baltimore Colts. Irwin claims to have had vivid dreams since birth, numbering over 60,000, that have provided him with explanations of events long ago to billions of years into the future, "spanning a timeline untold billions of years into the future documenting alien civilizations primitive, advanced and epically diverse in infinite forms." His dreams are in Farsi, Pastu, Urdu, and Arabic letters, which he feels are most comparable to advanced languages. Early on he was inspired to convert to Sufism.

Julian Harr was given a full scholarship in physics by the University of Oregon, but found he liked throwing pottery better and makes fantastical sculptures as in the Portrait of E.O. Wilson.

In a similar vein Jeff Smith, creator and publisher of Toxic Comics, set designer (for MTV), and member of The Revolving Museum, makes sculptures assembled from rescued parts.

Dr. Seth Goldstein has created the most memorable piece in this exhibit. Goldstein, a former bio-medical engineer at NIH, designed instrumentation for medical research; in his words, very serious work. Upon retirement he wanted to design and build less serious, more fun things, and Cram Guy is his Rube Goldberg masterpiece. The idea evolved as he was awaiting open heart surgery. It's great fun and will be a big hit.

So many artists for one review, each with his or her own unique history, in AVAM tradition, detailed on wall text often with accompanying quotes. Although I'm not a fan of wall text, the best part here is that the majority of the work stands well enough on its own and as with all AVAM shows, well worth the visit.

Other good news to coincide with this exhibit, the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation has awarded the museum its highest honor, the Vision and Imagination Award, for recognizing and promoting the creative outcomes of individuals striving to express their visions and imaginations through their individual art."

The Marriage of Art Science and Philosophy, which to me ultimately translates into how exploring and creating through play can open the mind to amazing invention and a world of discovery, runs October 4th to September 6th, 2009. More images from the exhibit on Flickr.


libby said...

Love the romance of man and machine in all three!!!

Mark Barry said...

Really, kind of a throw back, nostalgic dreaming of the future.

Kaz Maslanka said...

I love this Museum!

Mark Barry said...

Great to hear Kaz, go to their web site and let them know!