Sure, you could Google parodies of Grant Wood’s American Gothic and see six million of them online, or you could support the arts by driving hundreds of miles and paying museum admission to see a fraction of them in person. Well, not the original artwork itself, mind you, just old copies of the publications and merchandise that have used some. And one monitor slideshow of countless others, some copied-and-pasted from online and others possibly drawn by local DeviantArt account holders for fun. But that still counts as an art exhibition of sorts, I rationalize.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen 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. We were each raised in a household that couldn’t afford annual out-of-state family vacations. We’re geeks more accustomed to vicarious life through the windows of pop culture than through in-person adventures. Eventually we tired of some of our self-imposed limitations and figured out how to leave the comforts of home for the chance to see creative, exciting, breathtaking, outlandish, and/or bewildering new sights in states beyond our own, from the horizons of nature to the limits of imagination, from history’s greatest hits to humanity’s deepest regrets and the sometimes quotidian, sometimes quirky stopovers in between.
We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.
Technically not even 2020 stopped us. We played by the new rules of the interim normal and wandered Indiana in multiple directions as safely as we could. This year the long-awaited vaccines arrived. For 2021 we agreed we had to go big. Our new primary objective was Yellowstone National Park, 1500 miles from Indy…
Yes, seeing the original American Gothic live and in person two years ago at the Art Institute of Chicago left a mark on my psyche. As a lifelong aficionado of parody and satire, it might have been inevitable that I’d fixate on Gothic spoofery, of which there’s no short supply in this world. While the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art celebrates Wood’s sincere oeuvre across his decades and changing styles, my primary objective was the separate room for Gothic tributes. Love it or diss it, their exhibit acknowledges its status as one of the most frequently imitated paintings in art history. Pop culture will simply not let it go.
Taken together, the lot was good-natured fun but fell short of the original-art gala I’d envisioned. I was particularly disappointed by the lack of attribution or fun trivia in the accompanying info cards. Point of fact, I had to research all the art credits in the above captions myself. While I’m on this self-driven supplemental curation streak, please enjoy three more Gothic examples from my own comics collection:
To be continued!
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