Tag Archives: Museum Experience

Rock’n Roll on Museum Monday with Rick’s Picks

ELO Kiddies!

I am updating this post in order to share the news that Cheap Trick will be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame during the 2016 ceremonies.  In honor of this long awaited accomplishment, enjoy a museum experience like no other, with Rick’s Picks, my first #ThrowbackThursday.

Inductees

Hall of Fame logo

On this Museum Monday, we are going to take a tour through some rock ’n roll history in Rockford, Illinois.  The Burpee Museum is currently exhibiting the guitar collection of one of the greatest musicians of all time, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, with Rick’s Picks.  This is not your average grouping of memorabilia.  From Cheap Trick’s humble beginnings of a local band to world-wide recognition, Rick saved everything from his worldwide tours, and now this nostalgia can be viewed by everyone at the Burpee.

Timeline of Rick Nielsen’s life

Nielsen, when asked what the exhibit means to him, had this to say, “It’s a lot more than just guitars. It’s my life. It’s perpetual motion, magic potions, evolutions, false conclusions, harmonic fusions, full color illusions, black and blue contusions, diffusions and delusions, late night seclusions, superstition and ambition, flights over oceans, shameless promotions, occasional demotions, sonic explosions, prepositions and compositions, traditions and transitions, collisions and decisions, expectations and exhilaration, havens and invasions, schemes, dreams and extremes, documentation and amplification, loving emotions conquering pre-conceived notions. It’s my story in guitars, music, video and all the stuff I’ve saved all these years: cracked open for all the world to see. Hope you come, hope you have fun, ‘cuz oh boy, this house’ll be rockin’.”

One of the most interesting aspects regarding the influence of Cheap Trick in Rockford is that everyone seems to have a story about the band.  Rick and his family have lived here for years, a part of the city’s nomenclature.  I have run into Mr. Nielsen several times on the Sunday morning Starbuck’s run before going to the grocery; he can be found having breakfast at the Stockholm Inn, a city staple, or dining at the Japanese restaurant JMK Nippon; driving past in traffic in his classic Thunderbird; there is even a special seat at the Coronado Theater tricked out in black and white checkerboard, a favorite design.  The influence of Rick can be seen throughout Rockford, as he continues to give back to the community.  He appears in YouTube tourism videos that parody the Wisconsin state senators who hid out in the Best Western Clock Tower Resort last year.

At Burpee, the immense exhibit had a real challenge to showcase Rick’s guitars and the accompanying memorabilia.  I cannot imagine the amount of meetings required to discuss the choices.   According to the website, Rick gave the keys to his colorful past and storage units to the curators and said, “Go for it!  Surprise me!”  Fans have declared Rick’s Picks “Better than Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Seattle’s EMP Museum.”

Rick being one of those guys that has common ground with any musician, brought along friends Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Slash of Guns n’ Roses, Todd Rundgren and Joe Perry of Aerosmith.  Video commentary throughout the exhibit on the guitars and Rick’s influence on musicians is available on the latest iPad technology, with headphones to catch every nuance provided by Shure.

The art of this exhibit is found on the guitars.  Rick has a collection of 2000+, many of his own design, some are guitars of his celebrity friends like Brian May of Queen.  I particularly like the Batman guitar, but the showcase piece is Rick’s famous five neck, manufactured by Hamer in 1981.  This unique instrument was so popular onstage a second one was designed with the signature checkerboard pattern.  Why five necks?  Rick’s desire to play multiple guitars during songs spawned the creation.

The most creative idea in the exhibit is the drawers.  How else to showcase a collection of incredible miscellany that spans an entire career?  Early letters from Rick’s high school, lyrics to ‘Heaven Tonight’ on scraps of paper, tickets, boarding passes, hotel keys, its all there; showcased in drawers that can be opened by the viewer bringing the exhibit to a new level, with a personal invitation to dig through his drawers from Rick himself.

I would like to thank Alan Brown, executive director of the Burpee Museum, for pointing out that Cheap Trick has yet to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; this oversight is no longer the case, as the band will be a part of the 2016 Inductees ceremony, announced 12/17/15 .  And many thanks to Jay Graham of Graham and Spencer, who was giving a special insider tour when I visited the museum, providing many special insights and details.

I hope you have enjoyed this Museum Monday, I included lots of video clips and interview bits to click through on the photos.  If you have any comments on Rick’s Picks, please use the space below.  I hope you as much fun with this as I did!

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Cheers,

MJ

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Cabinet of Curiosities

 

Cabinet of Curiosities

By

Mary Jo Gibson

A memorable Museum Experience engages the visitor on levels expected and unexpected. Participation with new technologies opens deeper communication and understanding of the exhibit, inspiring intuitive learning; museums have this ability in spades.  Making the old new again with hands on exploration moves an exhibit to a level of relevance not considered in the previous scope of art, deepening the connection to the viewer; bringing all the senses into the Museum Experience.

Authors Own

Augsburg Cabinet, Chicago Art Institute

Viewing the Chicago Art Institute’s Augsburg Cabinet is stunning, however, not complete, as the hidden treasures within lie beyond the opulent doors.  Technology has produced a stunning video that shows the inner workings of the cabinet, the separate compartments, and the art that adorn the deeper recesses.

Authors Own Interactive

Cabinets made in the southern German town of Augsburg during the 16th and 17th century are famous for their showy decorations, typically executed in ebony veneer and ivory inlay, as with this excellent specimen on display in Gallery 234.  The craftsmanship of this decoration is matched by the inventiveness of the cabinets’ interior structure, part display case, part tool chest and part safe-deposit box.  These were usually commissioned by one craftsman who subcontracted the various specialized components and then sold the completed object from his shop.  Cooperation between silversmiths, cabinet makers and goldsmiths, a constant aspect of Augsburg craftsmanship, facilitated the production of elaborately mounted mirrors, clocks, traveling services and these specialized cabinets.  Produced in small series, the cabinets usually have only minor variations in decoration, they are calculated to appeal, in iconography, ornateness and expense to a limited circle of the court and the upper bourgeoisie.

Augsburg Cabinet, Chicago Art Institute

Augsburg Cabinet, Chicago Art Institute


Iconography


Charity is represented atop the cabinet as a mature woman with small children.  She represents the Greek principle of unselfish love.  Three children accompany the figure of Charity, one as a baby in her arms (sadly missing his head due to damage over time), and the others two entwined about her legs, clutching her hands.

Authors Own

Charity, Augsburg Cabinet


Ornamentation


The Arabesque Ornamental forms that cover the outside of the cabinet contrast sharply with the black sheen of its ebony veneer.  These sinuous forms were characteristic across the decorative arts during this period.  The motif was heavily influenced by contemporary engravings of Islamic and Moorish patterns.

Authors Own Detail

Duchamp’s Fountain

I had the pleasure of listening to the BBC podcast of Marcel Duchamp’s Urinal, and must say I was quite taken by the subversive nature of this artist.  I would like to thank Ben Street for sharing this podcast on Facebook.

Duchamps Valise

I looked into some more of Mr. Duchamp’s art, and found that he was a close friend of Peggy Guggenheim, who lived in Venice.  Several of his Box in a Valise (Boite en-valise) are famous 3-d efforts in the shape of a small suitcase or valise, each remarkable on their own. These small cases contain miniature replicas and color reproductions of works by the artist. He gifted one to his patron Guggenheim, which included a small version of the celebrated fountain, perhaps a sample version of the original.   The exhibited urinal has never been found since it was first viewed by the  Society of Independent Artists committee in 1917, subsequently rejected, photographed professionally by Alfred Stieglitz, never to be seen again.

Duchamps Fountain

While ‘modern’ art and the various movements have never been my cup of tea, this story and its destabilizing undertones gives me pause to re-evaluate my personal thoughts on these creations, and the artists.

 

Francis Willughby, Unsung Natural History Connoisseur, and Batman, The Dark Knight Rises


Newton

Sir Issac Newton’s Principia (Philosophaie Naturalis Principia Matrhematica) famously was to be the first book published by the Royal Society, however this was circumvented by another publication, A History of Fishes, by Francis Willughby and John Ray.  Samuel Pepys was president of the society at the time and is named on the title pages of both books.  While Newton is a name that has survived the centuries with his apple and gravity conclusions, Willughby and Ray have fallen aside through the annals of time.

frontspiece willughby and ray

Willughby was once Ray’s student and the two travelled together, studying, collecting birds and fish.  After the untimely death of Willughby, Ray oversaw the culmination of their notes and drawings into three books. These studies are considered the beginning of scientific ornithology taxonomy in Europe, dismissing the older inaccuracies of Aristotle.  Their collection of birds and fish is stored at Willughby’s family home, Wollaton Hall now the Nottingham Natural History Museum.  Wollaton Hall, incidentally, stars as Wayne Manor in the Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.  Trumped by Willughby, again I believe, Sir Newton.

Batmans House

Batman on the stairs

Thank you for joining me for this edition of Cabinet of Curiosities. Albrecht Durer will be following soon!

Cheers,

MJ

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