The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 9: Arts in Columbus

ART downtown Columbus!

The Columbus College of Art & Design’s Art Sign will celebrate its 21st birthday this coming Thursday.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

The miniseries’ end is near! But first, the stuff we skipped and some stuff we didn’t get to yet. Mostly it’s about the birthday guy doing some self-indulgent geek sopping, chancing into a few flourishes of local art along the way, and a few loose ends that fit nowhere into the miniseries except here, the catchall chapter.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 7: All Around the CMA

Columbus Museum of Art!

Foreground: Jeff Koons, One Ball Total Equilbrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J Series), 1985. Background: Anselm Kiefer, Tutein’s Tomb, 1981-83.

[EDITORS’ NOTE: The following entry knowingly contains Art. Viewer discretion is advised.]

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

The Columbus Museum of Art had drawn me in with their big exhibit celebrating the pre-1960 works of hometown legend Roy Lichtenstein, but other rooms commanded our attention as well. A sampler of those works, many by Big Names, seems in order as a companion piece.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 6: Lichtenstein Pre-Pop

Washington Crossing the Delaware II

Washington Crossing the Delaware II, 1951.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

As a comics fan I think I’m supposed to loathe Roy Lichtenstein and his Pop Art appropriations of single panels from the hard labors of countless underpaid artists from years past. I generally get the anger of an artistic fandom predisposed to condemn any product that reeks of unaffectionate tracing and/or outright theft. (Hence some especially vehement online condemnations of self-styled “NFT artists”.) On the other hand, I’m also a lifelong lover of parody and satire, of deconstruction and deflating pretensions. On that level Pop Art has always fascinated me, from Warhol to Lichtenstein to Rauschenberg and beyond. Their often passively-aggressively snide answers to the question, “What is Art?” are fair game both for criticism and as criticism.

As it happens, my birthday weekend had a gift waiting for me: a special exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art called “Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making 1948-1960”. Lichtenstein was born in Manhattan but earned his degrees at Ohio State University in Columbus (with a three-year intermission for WWII homefront service) and consequently counts as a hometown hero. He moved on to teaching elsewhere while taking steps into the art world, leaving representational figures quickly behind as he entered a phase of dabbling in Cubism and Surrealism as means to interrogate, deconstruct, or merely spoof well-known images of his time, haughty American history, or random pictures that caught his eye in Life Magazine. His fame/infamy would be later claimed in the Pop Art movement; in contrast, the CMA’s exhibit collected works showing his earlier evolution…or, if you can’t stand his work, his villain origin.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 3: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way

Amazing Spider-Man #252 cover!

I was 11 when Amazing Spider-Man #252 debuted his black costume and blew my mind. Art by Ron Frenz and Klaus Janson.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

Now we’re to my favorite part of the Marvel exhibit at Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry. The statues were fun and the MCU film props and costumes were quite a sight to behold up close, but original comics art is a rarity for me to see in person. Growing up, buying original art was something rich comics investors did for fun and showiness, nothing a poor kid like me could ever afford. In adulthood I’ve climbed up the ladder high enough that I now own a few modest pages, nothing fancy.

The Marvel exhibit features over six dozen pages drawn by the original artists across 80+ years of the medium’s history — not just reproductions, the real thing, largely loaned by private collectors identified below each frame for provenance and gratitude. Some were autographed by the artists; in a few of the older pieces, you can see where artists (and Stan “The Man” Lee) autographed them years after the fact. The following gallery, less than half the total works on display, is a selection of those that stuck out to me for various reasons and didn’t succumb to blurry photography. One of them even has color. (Painted, at that!) A few have behind-the-scenes Easter eggs, such as our lead photo — if you click on the cover to ASM #252 you can read Klaus Janson’s notes in the margins addressed to George Roussos, the colorist who handled all Marvel covers at the time. For me, the little details add to the thrill of comics art appreciation.

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The 2021 Birthday at Newfields, Part 2 of 2: Arts of a Whole

LOVE jazz hands!

The birthday gal and this writer in front of a replica of Robert Indiana’s iconic Love, which I’m pretty sure used to be on the art museum lawn.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. Well, except last October when it was her turn, Anne wanted to keep her special outing simple — a single day spent together here in town. We managed to find some pretty things for the occasion at Newfields, the institution formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art… Continue reading

The 2021 Birthday at Newfields, Part 1 of 2: Light Show Van Gogh-Gogh

Anne on phone!

Anne strolls through a scintillating art kaleidoscope, unaware she’s posing for my work computer wallpaper.

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Well, except during raging pandemics before vaccines are ready. Or when one of us isn’t in the mood. Last October when it was her turn, Anne wanted to keep her special outing simple — a single day spent together here in town.

We managed to find some pretty things for the occasion at Newfields, the institution formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Last year they emptied out their top floor and converted it into a temporary, floor-wide installation with a very different approach to art. Instead of hanging paintings on the walls, they turned out the lights, turned the walls into projection screens, and filled the place with a rotating array of blown-up paintings. The montages emphasize the works of Vincent Van Gogh, but other Impressionists might be in the mix, along with works from at least one other continent altogether.

Welcome to the Lume.

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My Free Comic Book Day 2022 Results, Ranked

Free Comic Book Day 2022!

The reading pile, in random order.

It’s that time of year again, but slightly delayed on my part! Saturday, May 7th was the 21st Free Comic Book Day, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or in rare instances real-world protagonists. It’s one of the best holidays ever for hobbyists like me who’ve been comics readers since the days when drugstores sold them for thirty-five cents each and comic book movies were sad, cheapskate abominations.

Each year comic shops lure fans and curious onlookers inside their brick-and-mortar hideaways with a great big batch of free new comics from all the major publishers and a bevy of smaller competitors deserving shelf space and consideration. After the online-only FCBD of 2020 A.P. (Annus Pandemus) and the delayed-gratification post-vaccine FCBD of August 2021, this year’s model returned to the traditional observance on the first weekend in May. Also per tradition, a major comic-book movie was released the same weekend and sucked up an awful lot of my free time that otherwise might’ve been spent reading and then writing-about-reading.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #39: Chasing Royalty Across State Lines

Super Mario wall Fargo!

Who among us has not known the stress of a Goomba nipping at their heels?

Day Eight began and ended in very different places, yet not so different as we compared notes between a pair of murals that have nothing to do with each other unless you dig too deeply beneath the surface.

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Super Bowl XLVI Indianapolis Memories, Part 2 of 3: (Some of) the 46 for XLVI Murals

PAmela Bliss, My Affair with Kurt Vonnegut.

“My Affair with Kurt Vonnegut” by Pam Bliss, one of the city’s fan-favorite murals, stands along trendy Massachusetts Ave.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Once upon a time, and exactly once, Indianapolis hosted a Super Bowl. Back in 2012 our li’l city earned its first chance to host the big game. Thanks to tremendous teamwork among numerous organization and bodies cooperating under Mayor Greg Ballard, the Circle City welcomed untold thousands of visitors for a super-sized weekend of football mania, Hoosier tourism, and limited-time-only activities that welcomed all brought our downtown alive. It was a unique occasion that everyone in town could appreciate, including those of us who aren’t into sports, have never watched an entire football game — nary a Super Bowl, not even for the ads — and have never been invited to a Super Bowl party. We found ways to get into the spirit of the proceedings anyway.

All of this happened three months before Midlife Crisis Crossover launched. At the time I simply shared pics and stories with online friends, then reused a tiny selection of that material here on MCC one year later. I can’t remember why I was so stingy and only reposted eleven photos from among the dozens of relevant ones, including an entire quest involving citywide art. This past week our local media outlets have been holding their tenth-anniversary celebrations of that time we all did a Super Bowl together. That means it’s the perfect time for a remastered version of the tale of how we spent January 27-28, 2012, the weekend before Super Bowl 46…this time in trilogy form!

Regarding the aforementioned art quest:

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Our 2021 Road Trip #35: North Dakota Statue Stopover Trilogy

Young Theodore Roosevelt statue, Dickinson, North Dakota.

Taken together with other Presidential statues in this series, we see the Young Teddy/Old Teddy gap is nowhere near as wide as the one between Young and Old Elvis.

Tired of endlessly pretty panoramas from the Western U.S.? You say we should get back to some roadside art? Have we got some chapters for you!

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