To say I am a fan of the American Visionary Art Museum would be the biggest understatement in the world – no, make that the universe.
When friends and family come to visit I take them to AVAM. When I need a creative, even spiritual lift, I go to AVAM. And if I cannot make it down to this wonderful internationally recognized campus on Key Highway, I go to the website and look at it. I look closely at the pictures. I read the stories. I savor the quotes that abound there.
Today we went to AVAM to witness the return of the refurbished Vollis Simpson “Whirligig.” Simpson made the wind-powered sculpture from recycled industrial materials, a craft the former farm machinery repairman became synonymous with in his hometown of Wilson, NC, where 30 of his works are on display in a park.
Simpson and his two sons traveled to the museum the year it opened, in 1995, to install the sculpture, named “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Vollis was a handy man. He designed and built heavy equipment for moving houses, and even opened a repair shop. But the wind and its ability to move objects, and even power things like the heating system in his house really had his attention.
From a small, rural town, his work not only is the gateway to AVAM, but four of his pieces were installed in downtown Atlanta during the 1996 Olympic Games.
Baltimore’s Whirligig has withstood the elements for three decades and needed some TLC. The 55-foot tall kinetic sculpture was disassembled in January and shipped to conservationists at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum in Wilson, North Carolina in January after the museum got a $50,000 grant from the state to preserve it.
Under the supervision of AVAM’s Bob Little, the job was done in about half a year. And on Wednesday, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” was returned to its home here in Baltimore.
In our second half hour, we were on the café balcony on the third floor of the museum, where you can look directly at the top with Museum Director Rebecca Hoffberger, who, herself, is a legend.
I could go on and on but discovering AVAM by yourself is part of the fun. Live or online, you’ve never seen or read about anything like it. And it was our honor to once again bring the American Visionary Art Museum to you.
And I am sure Rebecca would appreciate leaving you with one final image of AVAM to enjoy.