The Great Mystery Show at AVAM

This has been an amazing year – after a fantastic jubilee of a birthday, I was invited to participate in the Great Mystery Show at the American Visionary Art Museum. AVAM is my favorite place in Baltimore, and one of my favorite places, period. I always feel lighter after a visit to the museum, as though I’m operating at a higher frequency.

Preview Party

The Great Mystery Show is my favorite yet. As with previous AVAM exhibits, it touches upon deep, timely and profound subjects. This show, however, is right up my alley. I would be surprised if you, dear reader, did not encounter profound synchronicities, intuitions and revelations that affect your life.

Jim Doran @ AVAM

I loved getting to know some of my fellow artists and participants. Some of them are discussed briefly below.

The preview party was one of the finest nights of my life.

Me & the Girls

Rebecca and I

Edward Gorey

I am so delighted to  be just around the corner from my man, Edward Gorey and his Gashlycrumb Tinies. It so great to see these pages, full sized and up close.

The Gashleycrumb Tinies

Rebecca Hoffberger talking Edward Gorey

J is for James who had lye by mistake

Ingo Swann

I am deeply honored to have my work hang in the same room as Ingo Swann. He was a brilliant researcher, writer and remote viewer. Visit his site – fascinating!

The Mysterious Mother Mary

This painting The Mysterious Mother Mary was missing for a time. Through a miraculous and arduous path, it was found in time for this exhibit and is the cornerstone of the show. Swann didn’t like to make “predictions.” His niece told me he was cornered at a conference, and was relentlessly hounded to predict the future. With great reluctance, he said “The Berlin wall will come down 18 months from now.” At the time he said it, there wasn’t a shred of evidence that the cold war was in danger of ending. It seemed far fetched at the time, and yet it came to pass.

Swann was not a Catholic. What’s unnerving about this painting is the atomic mushroom cloud over the ocean that takes up 1/3 of the composition. At the time of this writing, that is a potential political outcome. I hope Swann didn’t see this happening.

Peter Eglington

I got to know Peter Eglington a bit. He’s a 65 year old surfer from Australia who looks 40. He’s a mystic lighthouse of a man, and has three adult children. He stepped on a stingray on two different occasions and lived to tell about it – he says it informed his work as a “rite of passage,” like a trial by fire.  He works with technical pens, color pencils and some paint. His works are HUGE, and a must see.

Peter Eglington discusses his work

Peter Eglington & Dorans

The Beadists

It was a pleasure the meet the “beadist” three graces; Nancy Josephson, Jan Huling and Betsy Youngquist. It’s worth spending hours just in their wing of the museum alone.

The body of Betsy’s rabbit was made by her partner, based on her own body.


Jan’s dress is a 3D print of her own wedding dress, which was also her mother’s dress.


Nancy is a priestess, ordained in Haiti.  She draws much inspiration from this background.


Len Jenkin

Len Jenkin is a writer and playwright from NYC/NY state. He’s been painting for many years, and is highly knowledgeable about “outsider” art and artists.

Len Jenkin

Complete list of artists: Anonymous Artist • Kelley Bell • David Bowman • Mary Bowron • Paul Darmafall • Jim Doran • Dr. B • Peter Eglington • George Figgs • Edward Gorey • Paul Graubard • Michael Green • Richard “Duke” Hagerty • Julian Harr • Gerald Hawkes • John Root Hopkins • Jan Huling • Lorann Jacobs • Len Jenkin • Nancy Josephson • Paul Laffoley • James Leonard • Scott Long • Rafael Matias • Antar Mikosz • Greg Mort • Margaret Munz-Losch • Chris Roberts-Antieau • Dr. Ned Rosinsky • Richard Smith • Bernard Stiegler • Ingo Swann • Christian Twamley • Louis Wain • Aric Wanveer • Frank Warren • Edward Woltemate • Betsy Youngquist

AVAM Preview Party

We attended the AVAM preview party last night – very much fun. They haven’t finished the installation of my pieces, yet it was quite an amazing experience to see my stuff hanging there. I am so grateful. I have more to say about all this in a later post, but…here are some pics.

Cocoa and I attended the “VIP” preview party, and got a look at the exhibit before a bazallion people came in.

A great, great night. :)

All Things Round

Rebecca Hoffberger & Mary Ellen “Dolly” Vehlow

I spent the past two mornings at the American Visionary Art Museum, where I help out as a docent/volunteer. I got a preview of the new show All Things Round: Galaxies, Eyeballs and Karma which is very very very very very very very very very very wonderful. A handful of the artists came in from out of town to share insights about their work. This is a GREAT show. I am sharing a tiny bit of what I saw and learned with you here, dear reader, so that you will go see it for yourself.

Greg Mort has produced astonishing paintings (self taught, of course) which deal with the macro end of this theme – galaxies, planets and our relationship to the cosmos. Breathtaking.

Stephanie Lucas with husband explaining her process & a tiny cropped section of her painting.

Stephanie Lucas produces extremely intuitive works which recall all the things I love about Bosch and Frida Khalo, yet is very new. Her paintings make me swoony. She and her husband, also an artist, came all the way from France for the opening.

Wendy Brackman produces paper sculpture masterpieces from paper plates, and is hilarious to boot. In a demonstration, she masterfully made a hat and a mask in under a minute each while telling her story (she gave me the skull-like mask in the middle).  On the left is a Styrofoam cup, carved by Mark Swidler, a former AT&T executive who began making things from cups in the mid 1970’s. I love both of these people’s work – recycling and using “everyday” objects to tell stories and delight.

And then, there’s Scott Weaver and his toothpick masterpiece, Rolling Through the Bay.

Photo by Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio

You HAVE to see this in person to believe it. My jaw dropped as he demonstrated how it works. It’s 9′ tall, 8′ wide and several feet thick. There are 10 different entrance points to insert ping-pong balls, which traverse pathways with the sculpture. They retrace paths through Mr. Weaver’s history in San Fransisco. It made me miss the city. He’s worked on this for 32 years and it’s a masterpiece.

Scott has swum (swam?) from Alcatraz to San Francisco six times. He didn’t say what he was in for, though. He’s also an expert with a Frisbee and showed us some amazing tricks.  And, finally, one of my favorite parts of this piece is this:

Scott put himself doing a handstand on a skateboard in here – a feat he can still do to this day. We talked about skating – he’s made his own boards out of railroad planks and stuff – so awesome. He’s a super nice guy.

There’s so much more to this exhibit – I haven’t talked about J.J. Cromer or Deepak Chowdhury, who both make very strong impressions in the show, or the dozens of other artists in here.  Please go see this show. There’s so much to absorb and be inspired by. It’s great and we are so lucky to have AVAM in Baltmore/Maryland/on-the-east-coast.


Sock Monkey Saturday

There’s an old Chinese saying that suggests a person hasn’t lived a full life until they have built a house, grown a garden and made a sock monkey. On Saturday afternoon, a large part of the Baltimore’s population turned out at  AVAM to satisfy this requirement for full living.

It was packed.

Avam provided a pattens, stuffing, needles and buttons for their annual “Sock Monkey Saturday” event. People brought there own socks.



Here’s some monkeys: