Thursday, December 10, 2009

Minneapolis Institute of Arts 1984 Gorey Exhibition

It was around 1982/83 when the idea started kicking around to have a second exhibition of works by Edward Gorey at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I have a friend who, at the time, was a librarian at the MIA and through him I got to know Harold (Hal) Petersen, the head librarian. The MIA had been the site of Mr. Gorey's first museum show in 1968 - see my posting from February 8, 2009 for more information on this earlier exhibition. The 1968 show was curated by Charles Paul Helsell who had donated most of his collection of Gorey books to the library (they are no longer in the archives...where did they go???).

The idea was to mount a new exhibition in the museum's library which would showcase the books the MIA had in their collection, and to expand upon this archive by borrowing from my collection of books, ephemera and original artwork. Over the course of a few dinners, Hal and I began to discuss what would ultimately become a very popular exhibition at the museum.

Charles Paul Helsell no longer worked at the MIA, but he was friends with Hal and still had Mr. Gorey's contact information, so he wrote to EG to find out if the museum could borrow original art from his archives. In a delightfully messy typed letter to Mr. Helsell, Mr. Gorey responds in a slightly befuddled manner to the request. Mr. Helsell retained the original letter, but gave me a copy for my files. It reads:

"Dear Mr. Helsell,

Re your letter of 28.ii, sure, why not. (All the work will devolve on Andy Brown, since the Gotham is where everything is. However.)

Also, I'll be willing to do the poster for whatever the traffic will bear, if anything. Let me know what sort of thing you have in mind, and what it will say on it.

Also (again), I have some awful though dim recollection of your writing me some time ago about some sort of theatre project involving my work, and that by the time I got around to thinking of answering, I had hopelessly mislaid your letter and address. Anyway, that would be all right with me too, if whoever it was is still interested. He, she, it, they might be interested in looking at Gorey Stories (not my idea of the world's greatest adaptation of same, but then) which is available from French; I also have lots of unpublished stuff which I could make available. Forgive typing, messiness of.

Edward Gorey"

To my knowledge, nothing ever came of the offer to work on a theatrical piece. More on how the exhibition came together and the show itself in future postings.

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