Today I met up with Asakiyume and her daughter the Animator in Fitchburg, a run-down postindustrial city with a lovely little museum, established in 1929 by artist and one-time resident Eleanor Norcross. The show we came for, on graphic art, was put together by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., and is traveling to New York. Definitely worthwhile. So is the Fitchburg Art Museum itself.
I enjoyed seeing what caught the attention of my companions among the wide variety of graphic styles and stories. For me, the book by Brian Fies on his mother’s cancer and a different book illustrating Kafka’s Metamorphosis were of special interest.
One fun thing was an actual bedroom set up to suggest where a typical comic-loving teen might hang out. The Animator scrutinized the book collection and pronounced the teen’s taste eclectic.
I recognized the art of Lynd Ward, although I did not know he created novels without words. The series in the museum was the novel Gods’ Man, described at the Library of America site:
“Gods’ Man (1929), the audaciously ambitious work that made Ward’s reputation, is a modern morality play, an allegory of the deadly bargain a striving young artist often makes with life.”
If you scroll down at the website, you can see woodcuts from the book.
Asakiyume asked me how I knew about Lynd Ward, and I had a vague memory of a children’s book, possibly of folk tales. I don’t think the book I remembered was The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge although Ward was the illustrator. It might have been The Biggest Bear.