AVAM goes to Bergdorf Goodman!!!

Mr. I, fresh from the art debacle in Salina, in front of the window display featuring his art.

Divine statue and more head to the windows of Bergdorf Goodman

AVAM items, including figure of drag diva, to be displayed in New York

From the Baltimore Sun
By Chris Kaltenbach | chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

June 21, 2009

Divine statue, Rebecca Hoffberger

AVAM’s 10-foot-tall statue of Divine, created by Andrew Logan, will be on display at famed retailer Bergdorf Goodman in New York for the next month. In this photo, AVAM director Rebecca Hoffberger strikes the same pose as the sculpture. (Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor / June 17, 2009)

New York is home to the Statue of Liberty,Coney Island, the Empire State Building. And, for the next month at least, the city will adopt a massively fluffy Baltimore-bred pink poodle named Fifi and a 10-foot-tall statue of Divine.

Some 50 pieces from Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum, a repository for the work of self-trained artists guided by their own unique and often impossible-to-define visions, will be gazing out from famed retailer Bergdorf Goodman’s Fifth Avenue display windows for the next month.

Not all are as Baltimore-centric as Andrew Logan’s stern-looking statue of Divine, the drag diva of so many John Waters films, but all display the sense of whimsy and out-there creativity that has made AVAM one of Baltimore’s most beloved museums.

“We’ve had items from many New York City museums, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Folk Art Museum,” says David Hoey, Bergdorf Goodman’s creative director and the man responsible for the window displays. “We’ve had blue-chip art in our windows, on its way to be auctioned atSotheby’s, Christie’s. We’ve seen it all, but this, in a way, is even more interesting than all of that. We’re thrilled.”

Bergdorf Goodman has been a high-fashion retailer almost since its founding in 1899; the current store, at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, opened in 1928. Its display windows, which often mix fashion with items culled from New York’s many world-class museums, have become nearly as big a draw as the store itself. Nearly a million people, on foot, in cars and cabs or on buses, pass by the windows every month, store officials estimate.

In addition to Divine, the AVAM displays heading north will include a slightly smaller version of Fifi, the gaudy pink French poodle-on-wheels who headlines AVAM’s annual kinetic sculpture race.

(Even a scaled-down Fifi is too large for BG’s windows, so she’ll be getting a place of honor inside the store itself.)

There will be a window filled with wooden critters sculpted by Clyde Jones (including a pink horse and a turquoise dog), another filled with Devon Smith’s robot family (including a robot dog). There will be a display of the jaw-droppingly intricate line drawings of Ted Gordon, whose faces are drawn without pen ever leaving paper, and a window devoted to the “Aliens vs. Angels” chess set crafted by Lyle Estill.

“I think this exhibit will be a delight that is very tasty in the palate of New Yorkers,” says Rebecca Hoffberger, AVAM’s founder and director, who will be in New York for the display’s opening on Friday. While acknowledging that New Yorkers are “a tough bunch to impress,” Hoffberger has no doubt they’ll like what they see staring back at them from the Bergdorf Goodman windows.

“This is a great chance to showcase, in the heart of Manhattan, what we as a national museum do best,” she says.

The AVAM display marks the first time BG will be working with an out-of-town museum for such a major display, Hoey says.

For his part, Hoey sounds positively giddy when talking about AVAM’s New York invasion. It’s sounds so incredibly Divine, he says.

“That 10-foot-tall statue of Divine – talk about unpredictable,” he says. “It was nothing we ever thought in a million years would end up in our windows. But in this case, it’s perfect! This is probably the only time it could end up in one of our windows.”