Baltimore is home to the most unusual art museum that I have ever visited.
The American Visionary Art Museum is located in the Inner Harbor and is the strangest, bizarre and most wonderful place.
It features art that is eclectic, multi-media and exciting created by self -taught contemporary artists. I had never been there and visited to see the needlework of Esther Krinitz. She was a survivor of the Holocaust, but lost all of her family except for her sister. After marrying and emigrating to the US after the war, she opened a dress shop. She loved sewing. At the age of 50, she started stitching these amazing pieces to retell the story of her childhood. She continued stitching until her death in 2001. In all she made 36 unbelievably detailed pieces. The first few were made with yarn and used crewel embroidery. As time progressed, she used more traditional applique and even machine applique. They are all so poignant and have that naif feel of folk art.
Ester's needlework was part of the exhibit called The Art of Storytelling. Her exhibit was called "Through The Eye of the Needle". Along with her needlework was a video featuring Esther and her daughters. It was soul touching and showed how this 12 year old girl was strong enough to shepherd her sister and her through the terrors of being a Jew in Poland during the Holocaust.
You can see a short interview with Esther Krinitz
showing some of her heart wrenching story in the video below.
This exhibit alone was worth the trip for me. But in addition, there were pieces by about 30 other visionary artists including Ted Gordon, Chris Roberts-Antieau, and Beatrice Coron and even matchstick art by Gerald Hawkes.. Unfortunately no photos were allowed inside but here are some representative pieces.
Fiber applique by Chris Roberts-Antieau
Drawings by Ted Gordon
His exhibit was named "Obsessive Compulsive Delight". It looked like the pre-cursor to Zentangles.
A papercut by Beatrice Coron.
You could call the AVAM a museum of whimsical art. There was a 5" ball made from women's bras. A garland of bottle caps was strung along the banisters heading up the steps. There was lots of glass/mirror mosaics. Here are a few photos that I was allowed to take outside.
This one is for my friend Kelly - a biker chick!