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…
Whenever someone asks us about our Baltimore vacation and lets us speak for more than fifteen seconds, if they’re patient we’ll tell them the part where we went beyond the Inner Harbor and spent two hours wandering the grounds of the American Visionary Art Museum. We’ll try to describe the captivating fun of roaming a trio of facilities dedicated to self-taught art, to imaginations and handicraft that eschew folks traditions or identifiable art movements, about the outlandish and the whimsy, about the inherent coolness of DIY ethos writ large and embraced to the fullest. Then their eyes will glaze over and they’ll change the subject because trying to describe unique art they’ve never seen is a bit like reviewing a Taylor Swift album for an audience that’s never owned a radio.
I guess you just had to be there. Or scroll through the photos from someone who has.
Of the three structures, the Tall Sculpture Barn — the one in the middle — is free. That day the main floor was emptied out, but a few pieces loomed overhead and welcomed us before the kindly staff did at the main building.
The main building is three stories of art, more art, and then art. We previously showed you some of the outside and the temporary food exhibit. The AVAM has over 4000 pieces in their permanent collection, rotated in and out of active display as needs and moods dictate.
On the south end of the AVAM campus is the third building, the Jim Rouse Visionary Center. Much of it is devoted to tiny animatronic gizmos and dioramas, but a number of whopper-sized sculptures also take advantage of the wide space and high ceilings.
…and these are all merely display items. I haven’t even shown you my favorite part of the AVAM yet.
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!]