A new exhibit at the Kennedy Museum of Art encourages visitors to consider what collections say about individuals, their relationships with others, and the world in general.
The “Reflective Objects: Collectors and Their Collections” exhibit – which opened at the end of August and is set to run through the start of the new year – displays a wide variety of local residents’ collections of everything from family quilts to old guitars to “Elegant Gothic Lolita” dresses to frogs replicas to vintage restaurant ware.
Three-year-old Hudson Minor is one of the collectors whose accumulations are on display. He collects sticks.
“How frickin’ cute is this?” said Mike Moschell, one of the other collectors.
Moschell collects ticket stubs. He said he was painting his house when he found boxes filled with stubs he had saved from concerts and movies – he needed something to put up on his walls after he painted, so he framed his tickets, which had started to pile up.
“I really want to expose people to these collections,” Moschell said. “There’s stories behind each one of them. I think it’s so cool that there’s such a variety of people in Athens that have such neat stuff.”
The tickets in his frames date back to the ’70s, helping to serve as reminders of experiences he’s had – for example, when he saw Pink Floyd on their Dark Side of the Moon Tour or when he met Chuck Berry and got his autograph at a jazz concert when Moschell was in high school.
“Sometimes, when I’m just wandering around my house and I’m looking, I’ll come up on one of these and I’ll remember,” he said. “It was kind of my way of reminding me of all of the money I’ve spent on concert shows over the years. I’m sure that there’s dozens of these that I didn’t save.”
They also serve as material proof of all of the different places Moschell’s gone for concerts, from the Convocation Center to Cincinnati.
He said the most disappointing concert he ever attended was Neil Young at the OU Convo in the ’80s.
“He played for 45 minutes, got on his bus and drove home,” he said.
BEYOND DISPLAYING PERSONAL collections and providing a glimpse into the interests of everyday people, the exhibit also fosters a bond between the collectors.
Close to where Moschell’s tickets hang, an army of Polaroid cameras are assembled on several display tables. The cameras belong to Aaron Smith, but Moschell gave Smith one more old camera Friday at a reception for the exhibit. The camera originally belonged to Moschell’s great uncle.
“I had nothing at all as far as use for this camera, and I wanted it to have a good home,” Moschell said. “This guy apparently has a good home for Polaroid cameras.”
Smith’s “obsession” – in his own words – with Polaroid cameras stems from his time in graduate school at Ohio University. He was working toward his master’s in painting and the school had a “junk” bin available to artists.
“People kept throwing Polaroid cameras in there,” he said. “I grabbed some from the junk pile, put some film in, and started shooting on them.”
Smith started collecting cameras in 2014, and has amassed quite a supply since then. He said he doesn’t have an exact count on his personal inventory, but he estimated it’s probably between 300 and 400 cameras. It was hard for him to narrow down which cameras to put on display at the exhibit, he admitted.
Smith was able to transform collecting cameras into a money-making venture, too. Outside of his personal collection, he sells Polaroids on Ebay, and he also 3D prints camera parts.
“I’m an artist in Appalachia, and it’s hard to make a living,” he said. “You’re always trying to find a way to make a living doing what you like.”
Smith said he also teaches art camps for children.
John Rozmus, a student at Hocking College, said Smith’s camera collection was his favorite. He was visiting the Ridges, where the Kennedy Museum is located, with his roommate, Adam Rolf, and they decided to check out the exhibits. Rolf said he really liked the guitar collection, submitted by Frank McDermott, owner of Blue Eagle Music Store in Athens.
“I play guitar and these are very unique,” Rolf said.
Kelly Evans, an OU sophomore who works at the reception desk at the Kennedy Museum, said she’s gone through the exhibit a couple of times.
“It’s just interesting what people think is important or what sticks out to them,” Evans said.
And as for the stick collection, Evans said 3-year-old Hudson Minor has been in to check on his sticks several times since the exhibit opened.