Small Talk Tag: Exhibit

A Hall of Collections

toy collections

Within the museum’s collection, we have a lot of sub-collections. We also know a lot of people that have great collections on view in their homes or lovingly tucked away in boxes. And that’s when it dawned on us… why not make a hall in the newly-renovated museum dedicated to highlighting these collections?! Shortly after, the Hall of Collections was born. The hall features eight cases that will rotate annually to feature different beloved playthings.

What can you find in the hallway now? Toy dishes from England, France, and Germany dating to the late 19th century; Star Wars toys from the first three films, including Kenner’s original display standard for the first four action figures produced; Madame Alexander dolls, including the Dionne Quintuplets, Jane Wither, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; toy school rooms from the United States, Germany, France, and Spain; boards games from the 1930s and 1940s; and, of course, we couldn’t leave out marbles!

Last, but not least, one case features the museum’s new Aaronel deRoy Gruber Disney Collection. Donated by the family of the internationally recognized artist, the collection features tin and mechanical toys that show the stages of Disney character development from The Marx Merry Makers Mouse Band to the modern Mickey Mouse.

Imagining Home

Eugene Kupjack

We already know that fine-scale miniatures are an important part of any fine art collection. And the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) agrees. The Cheney Miniatures Gallery at the BMA features miniature rooms with English and American interior styles of the 17th to the 19th century. BMA honorary trustee Elizabeth F. Cheney commissioned Eugene Kupjack to create the rooms.

Four of the BMA’s 1:12 scale rooms are included in their newest exhibition Imagining Home, which explores different ideas and aspects of the places in which we live – whether decorative or functional, real or ideal, celebratory or critical. The exhibit, on view until August 1, 2018, will continually rotate works so there will always be something new to see. We for one would like to see Kupjack’s Shaker Community room, Southern Plantation entrance hall, New Orleans Rococo Revival Parlor, and urban New England Dining Room.
Photo: Eugene J. Kupjack. Entrance Hall in a Southern Plantation, 1780-1810. 1963-1984. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Chicago, and Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth S. Battye, Baltimore. BMA 2012.626

A Portland Toylandia

Portland Toy Museum

It’s not hard to get a sense of the voracious collecting bug Frank Kidd has. Ever since purchasing his first pedal car as an adult in the 1960s, he’s lived under the motto “buy or die” when it comes to collecting antique toys. Kidd’s collection grew so large that he eventually closed his auto parts business and converted the space to display it.

Visitors to this unassuming industrial building-turned-museum in Portland, Oregon will find 20,000 toys on view (a fraction of Kidd’s collection!). A major portion of his toys are cast iron banks. During the machine age, cast iron banks were a great way to use mechanical technology for entertainment while also teaching kids the value of saving money. Unfortunately, many cast iron banks reflected nineteenth-century values on race as well and reinforced negative stereotypes. Kidd’s collection provides a glimpse into the changing world at the turn of the last century, and offers a stark comparison with the ever-diversifying toys of today.
Photo: Kidd’s Toy Museum.

Paintings for Ants

Lorraine Loots

It’s not often that an artist gets to exhibit over 700 of his or her works in a solo gallery show. For Lorraine Loots, this feat was accomplished at Brooklyn, New York’s Three Kings Studio, in part because all of her highly detailed paintings are no larger than 1 inch by 1 inch. The 2015 gallery show, Ants in NYC, was her first international exhibition, which is pretty impressive since she hadn’t intended to become a professional artist.

Loots’s paintings began to take the spotlight back in 2013 with her Paintings for Ants series. She made a commitment to paint one tiny work for one hour per day as a way to stay in touch with her creative side while working a 9 to 5 office job. Not long after posting her work on Instagram, she began amassing followers and receiving numerous requests to purchase her tiny paintings. Today, Loots’s miniature art has been so widely featured that she has committed her work life to painting. Goes to show that sometimes you should quit your day job!
Photo: Lorraine Loots.

Cartoons Turned into Paper Dolls

Jackie Ormes

T/m’s newest exhibit, Stereotypes to Civil Rights: Black Paper Dolls in America, features work from the first African American female cartoonist: Jackie Ormes. Ormes created playful, often politically charged strips for readers of 15 African American newspapers across the country, including the Chicago Defender and Pittsburgh Courier, from the 1930s to the 1950s. There would not be another nationally syndicated black female cartoonist until the 1990s

Smart, classy, glamorous, bold, and rebellious, Torchy Brown was one of Ormes’ most beloved characters. Torchy first appeared as a Mississippi teen finding fame and fortune as a Cotton Club singer and dancer in the 1937-1938 comic strip Torchy Brown in “Dixie to Harlem.” Torchy reappeared in 1950’s Torchy in Heartbeats as a beautiful, independent woman encountering adventure in a pursuit for her true love.

In addition to creating the first upscale black doll to have a whole line of clothes, Patty Jo from her comic Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger, Ormes turned Torchy into a paper doll (bet you can’t guess where you might see it now through August 21, 2016?!). Torchy was so curvaceous that it was rumored servicemen used the paper dolls as pin-ups!
Photo: Torchy Brown Heartbeats, February 3, 1951, Comic Section, Pittsburgh Courier. Courtesy of Nancy Goldstein, www.jackieormes.com.

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