Monday, June 18, 2018

EXHIBITIONS: Roz Chast's "Cartoon Memoirs" delights at the Museum of the City of New York (through 10/9)

Subway Sofa 
A large-scale mural created specially for the MCNY exhibition
All images ©Roz Chast, unless otherwise noted

Dear readers,
This hilarious and stellar Roz Chast show was featured at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA in the fall of 2015. I loved it, and blogged about it, and was delighted to hear that it later moved on to the Museum of the City of New York -- another favorite venue of mine.

Roz appeared in engaging conversations at both museums, speaking about her prolific career. If you missed these entertaining talks, you can see a video of her 2015 event at the Norman Rockwell Museum here.


There are some artists who move us with their wisdom and unique perspective, and others who amuse us with their wit. Some uplift us with their humanity, or perplex us with their inscrutability. It's the rare artist who succeeds in doing all of these at once. One of them is New Yorker cartoonist and author Roz Chast, whose prolific output is currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York. Cartoon Memoirs is simply a "mustn't miss" show. We could all use some laughs right about now!

Above: Roz Chast at book signing, following 
a most entertaining talk about her life & career
NRM, Stockbridge Mass., July 9, 2015
Photo by Michael Schonbach

Below is the first Roz Chast cartoon I ever saw, 
published in her 1984 book Parallel Universes
I knew from that moment that I had found a kindred spirit.

Chast brought her first submission, a portfolio of sixty 
drawings, to the New Yorker in 1978. Much to her surprise, Little Things 
was chosen for publication by the cartoons editor. (Some regular readers 
were appalled, and one inquired whether the magazine owed money to Chast's family!)

Over the years, Chast's cartoons have become one of the most beloved features of the magazine. Some of her favorite subjects are greeting cards, book jackets, UFO's, 
gizmos, room interiors, creepy medical conditions, tombstones, 
and -- of course -- family dysfunction.

Her images are filled with a barely controlled hysteria that seamlessly mixes
madcap humor and all-too-relatable anxiety in equal measure. What fun it is to 
wander through a museum and hear peals of laughter 
coming from all the rooms of an art exhibition!

The exhibition also includes some of Chast's hooked rugs and Ukrainian Easter eggs, 
(pysanky), with which she says she was "obsessed" for a couple of years.

Hello, 2015
hand-hooked rug, wool, burlap

Some awfully cute pysanky

"With their brilliant colors, rendered smooth and glossy by a polyurethane topcoat, Ms. Chast's eggs are extraordinarily lovely -- glorious jewel-toned objects whose aesthetic 
lies somewhere between Fabergé and Dr. Seuss."
... NY Times, November 2004

Chast's first New Yorker cover, above, was published in 1986.
She sees it as a "family tree" of ice cream. (Her father thought it 
portrayed a doctor pointing out foods that should never, ever be eaten.)


She has penned more than 1000 drawings and numerous covers for the New Yorker over the past thirty years. Above left is a representation of her hand painted pysanky collection. Above right: some fantastical seed packets.

And ... ta da ... The Book!

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Chast's graphic memoir of growing up in Brooklyn as the only child of hypochondriac, affection-withholding parents, and eventually caring for them during their declining years, is an instant classic. Among many, many awards and accolades, the book was selected as one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2014. 

The full contents of Can't We Talk ... are displayed at the MCNY's exhibition. 
You can read the NY Times book review here.
The Guardian's review is here.

"The Wheel of Doom", a major laugh-getter at the exhibition,
was originally rejected by the New Yorker for publication in the magazine.
Chast spoke briefly about the rejection that cartoonists - even famous ones - must endure.
"If there's ANYTHING else you can do for a living besides this," she jokes, "DO IT!"

During the first weekend of April 2016, Roz Chast took up residence on the museum's third floor
to create "Subway Sofa," a painting that welcomes visitors to her exhibition. 

"Featuring the cramped comfort of NYC apartments and the horrors of subway 
commuting, it's the perfect foray into a show that highlights 
the absurdities of NYC life in hilarious cartoons."

See video of the artist at work here.

That's all, folks!

~ oOo ~

1 comment:

  1. Please tell Mad for Mod what you thought of this exhibition!