My mother and I have a tradition going back to the mid 90s, the Summer (and Winter, which was added around 2003) Day of Fun, in which mother and daughter come together and take time out from their regularly scheduled lives to do something that they have always been meaning to do, or would do if they led lives of leisure, which they are destined not to because of their genetic makeup. (Mom is busy with exciting work opportunities, museum stewardship, and grammy-ship since she retired; I have a full time job in which I commute to, a personal blog in which to maintain, and a marathon to train for. It's who we are.)
This year Mom met me in midtown Manhattan and we had lunch at Sarabeth's on Central Park South before visiting the American Folk Art Museum. Originally the plan was to go to MoMA to see the Matisse exhibit, but we'd been to MoMA together before, and it promised to be packed. I just happened to read a great piece on the Folk Art Museum in the New Yorker, and had always admired the flag outside their building, so we changed plans. And boy were we glad we did. Here's a photo of part of the line (that went all the way around the block) to get into MoMA, taken from the top floor of the Folk Art Museum, which is right next door.
We saw some truly inspiring things. I'm still not quite sure what folk art is exactly, but I think it amounts to Art-by-artists-who-are-not-Artists, that is people who did not go to school to be artists. They can be artisans, or craftsman, or, in the 20th and 21st centuries, just plain crazy people who are compelled by their imprisonment or mental illness to make art. It's somewhat unclear. But I still enjoyed all the exhibits.
We saw some stuff by Henry Darger, who was clearly mentally ill and made some disturbing art (which I did not take photos of). Sad thing is, the Henry Dargers of today are probably too overmedicated to make compelling art.
I was tickled by his filing system for images he clipped out of magazines, coloring books, and other printed material — all clippings he used to teach himself how to illustrate his magnus opus. This file was called "Only Trees Trees Not Bees."
But by far my favorite thing in the place was the Pieties Quilt, made by Maria Cadman Hubbard, aged 79, and completed in 1848.
See for yourselves.
Besides this amazing quilt, there were also excellent weathervanes, a braided rug made out of Wonder Bread bags, a cafe run by a very nice pastry chef who baked all the goods, and live music.
If you are ever about to get in line for MoMA, I highly suggest finding respite in the AFAM.