John Oliver as Oscar Wilde
BALTIMORE - Out of a field of nearly 1,000 submissions, the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) has been selected as one of only five museums nationwide to exhibit three “weird works of art” selected by Last Week Tonight’s television host John Oliver. AVAM’s required special three-week mini exhibition of the national tour titled, "Last Week Tonight’s Gallery for Cultural Enrichment,” (www.lwtgallery.com) will showcase Oliver’s collection and open at AVAM on November 1, 2021 and run through November 22, 2021. As part of being selected as a host museum, AVAM will receive a $10,000 grant, with an equal amount being donated by Oliver to a regional food bank designated by AVAM. The Maryland Food Bank was selected as AVAM’s chosen recipient.
AVAM Founder Rebecca Hoffberger exclaims, “We are thrilled! Firstly, we were deeply moved that Mr. Oliver recognized and cared that the COVID pandemic and its forced public closures had caused grievous losses to museums. That he then cooked up such a highly visible and fun challenge to publicly underscore that need - well, we were smitten!” Hoffberger included with her proposal a reference to comic truth tellers, inserting John Oliver’s face into the classic photo of Oscar Wilde.
“I wanted this to pop out and make Mr. Oliver smile with our thanks!” Hoffberger said. “The cherry on top is that our local Maryland Food Bank also gets his help for their good work by our win. Mr. Oliver has long made a high art of using humor to speak truth to power. We hold him in high esteem as our natural brethren to AVAM’s own creative social justice DNA!”
The “weird art” museum-benefitting competition was conceived by Oliver in October 2020 to highlight the plight of museums and arts organizations in dealing with the COVID-19 global pandemic. In response, nearly one-thousand museums of all sizes vied for selection, with many encouraging their patrons to lobby Oliver and Last Week Tonight through social media campaigns and online petitions.
Hoffberger submitted AVAM’s award-winning proposal to Mr. Oliver titled, “American Visionary Art Museum's Honeymoon for Amorous Rats, Baltimore, and Thee, Mr. Oliver” (a reference to one of the three of Oliver’s works by Artist Brian Swords) writing, “Just like you and dear Oscar (Wilde), Mr. Oliver, our American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) has wielded humor to broker all those hard truths that impact and matter most to a beautifully diverse public of all ages.” Hoffberger’s proposal was accompanied with a photo-shopped image of Oliver as Oscar Wilde (attached) and one of Hoffberger’s favorite quotes, attributed to both Wilde and George Bernard Shaw: “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
Hoffberger went on to detail that “Our one-of-a-kind national museum has only a small annual budget - the smallest of any of Maryland’s 13 major cultural attractions - and yet has been listed as the “ONE MUST-SEE ATTRACTION” for our state on every national list of only one recommended pick per state - be it Oprah's Destinations to US News & World Report and USA Today - and has even been included among lists of the top twenty museums of any kind in the world! We just won the 2020 World TravelAdvisory Award from TripAdvisor, designating AVAM as in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.”
Hoffberger cited the Maryland Food Bank as her choice for receiving the additional $10,000 grant noting, “They have long made an art out of sincerely and practically caring for people in need and and in crisis and are far more deserving of all our help now than ever.”
Oliver’s “weird works'' will be on exhibit at AVAM from November 1 through November 22, 2021. The featured works include:
Stay Up Late by Brian Swords - 1992:
Dimensions – 18 H x 24 W
Watercolor on Paper
Ties by Judith Kudlow – date unknown:
Dimensions – 14in H x 11in W
Oil on Canvas
Wendy Williams Eating A Lamb Chop, 2020 (artist unknown)
Dimensions – 36in H x 46in W
Acrylic on Plywood Board
About the American Visionary Art Museum
(AVAM) is a Congressionally-designated national museum and education center dedicated to intuitive, self-taught artistry. It champions the role intuition plays in creative invention and innovation of all sorts — be it art, science, engineering, humor or philosophy, and especially in compassionate acts of social justice and betterment.
For more information to go: WWW.AVAM.ORG