Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 19: Visionary Edibles

Giant Gummy Wayne Coyne!

“Giant Gummy Wayne Coyne” by Derek Lawson, Julianne and Matt Lutz, and Coyne himself, lead singer of the Flaming Lips and the only artist’s name I recognized in the entire AVAM complex.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

Our wonderstruck tour of the American Visionary Art Museum continued beyond the shiny free exterior and into the admission-paying part. The Museum welcomes numerous guest curators on a regular basis to assemble temporary exhibits on assorted themes — again, populated entirely by the works of amateurs, aspiring part-timers, and self-confessed non-artists who just need to see an idea in their head come to full visual fruition.

When we visited in July, the main exhibit was “YUMMM! The History, Fantasy and Future of Food”. Nearly three dozen food scientists, farmers, nutritionists, multimedia practitioners, and more contributed a variety of sculptures, paintings, collages, and other displays of educational and/or nostalgic value. Not everything from the following photo gallery was officially part of that exhibit, but food is a subject matter that’s bound to be on everyone’s minds sooner or later.

Burnt Bread!

Art made entirely from burnt bread by various volunteers overseen by artist Jerry Beck.

Shared Dining!

“Shared Dining” by female inmates at a Connecticut prison. A rotating table bedecked with place settings honoring their heroes.

Ranch White!

One wall was covered with food trivia, such as this fun tidbit about ranch dressing and titanium dioxide. The more you know!


“Can-Can” by Isadore Waber.

Willie Nelson Seeds!

Jim Buhler created musicians’ portraits with seeds, including famous seed lover Willie Nelson.

PEZ collection!

A selection of PEZ dispensers from the collection of David R. Klein. This wouldn’t be the last time PEZ dispensers popped up in this year’s road trip.

Carlin Sandwich!

Another wall was covered in choice food quotes, such as this bon mot from the late George Carlin.

Marie Antoinette!

“Marie Antoinette’s Let Them Eat Cake,” by John Raymond Peper.

Food Packaging Ceiling!

One hallway sported a ceiling covered in food packaging.


Speaking of things to hold your food: vintage lunchboxes!

Giant Paper Plate Wheel!

One of the most hypnotic pieces, Wendy Brackman’s 10-foot-tall rotating mandala constructed entirely from paper plates.

Burnt Bread 2!

Jerry Beck’s burnt-bread art festival, round 2.

Swedish Chef!

Truly a love-it-or-hate-it sculpture: Christian Twamley’s “Sweepish Chef” — the Swedish Chef and one of Gonzo’s chicken friends from The Muppet Show but made entirely of Peeps. Genius or abomination? YOU make the call!

To be continued!

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email signup for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

2 responses

  1. Your blog is really inspiring and you find the coolest things! I feel like traveling to so many of the places you’ve been to! I’m a new follower. You might like my blog as well, because I travel “in my head” over the hill on the yellow brick road–to an allegorical place where I figure out where I belong in this crazy world as I grow older.

    Liked by 1 person

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