On Friday April 13th, Bill, myself and a friend viewed the Gorey Preserved Exhibiton at Columbia University in New York City - an appropriate day to take in the exhibit! Presented on campus in the Rare Books Room of the Butler Library, the exhibit features many items from the Edward Gorey archive donated to the library in 2010 by collector Andrew Alpern.
Mr. Gorey himself greets you as you enter the exhibition, his face bemusedly looking out from the hood of one of his fur coats. He has an "if you must come in, come in" expression, and you can almost hear him sighing over all the fuss as you walk past (Mr. Alpern is shown standing next to "Mr. Gorey" in a photograph taken at the opening reception).
The items on display are thoughtfully presented in wall cases and are grouped by general themes - Dracula, Children's Books, Elephants, Christmas, etc. The display put me in mind of the annual Gotham Book Mart shows of Mr. Gorey's works, where you saw familiar pieces mixed with more unusual and ephemeral items. Rare and unusual items are presented alongside related newspaper clippings and mass produced do-dads, giving the exhibition a wonderful hide-and-seek feel. The viewer has to stop and pay attention to each item, or you might miss a gem.
Mr. Alpern was an inclusive collector, preserving everything from bookmarks and tee-shirts, to hand colored postcards and hard to find books and posters. The library provides a ten page check list of the items on display, so you can identify individual items on display and refresh your memory after you leave the exhibit. The checklist also has four color photographs at the end, which is a lovely addition.
There were several pieces on display that I had not seen before, including some interesting wood block elephant prints and theatrical pin-back buttons. I was thrilled to finally see a tee-shirt for the "New York Kitty Ballet" featuring two cats performing a Pas de Deux - I own the original artwork from this shirt (see my posting from January 16, 2011), but have never actually seen how it was used.
There are a number of items borrowed from the Edward Gorey Estate which are mixed in with Mr. Alpern's treasures. My favorite was a small piece of original artwork which Mr. Gorey drew for use as a book plate for Thomas Cass Canfield.
Gorey Preserved is on display until July 27, 2012. There is no charge to see the exhibit, but you do have to check in to enter the building. This is a not to be missed exhibition - go now!