Well this is pretty cool, and has flown mostly under the radar of my usual comics news sites: Roz Chast has an exhibit up at the Museum of the City of New York. It runs from April 14th until October 9th, so you have plenty of time to go see it…and you should. Best known for her 2014 award winning 2014 memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Chast’s droll cartoons capture urban foibles of dread, fatalism and UES (upper East Side, to non New Yorkers) neuroses with a levity that barely masks how deep they cut. One of the exhibits mentions that one of her biggest influences was Charles Addams, and it easy to see how Addams’ loose penwork and gallery of characters informs her work. She also shifted his emphasis on the lugubrious and horrific to internal anxieties over health, parental guidance, mid-life crises and geographic uncertainty.
The exhibit includes more than 200 of her New Yorker covers, single panel gags, comic strips and pages from CWTASMP?, as well as her hobbies: rug making and egg painting. As I wandered the gallery at last nights opening reception, the room was filled with chuckles; this is an exhibit that has to be read as well as looked at, and it doesn’t take more than one or two to get the chuckle reflex going. IT was a well attended event and it was quite extraordinary to be standing among so many chuckling people.
It’s also, as far as my memory goes, the first solo museum exhibit for a female cartoonist in New York, at least. (It was previously shown at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.) I know there have been gallery exhibits and group shows, but this does represent a new high water mark for a lady cartoonist. It’s an honor Chast richly deserves.
During the remarks by her publisher, it was noted that she’s working on a second memoir that will be published in 2017; this one deals with life in Manhattan. Let the chuckling unfold.
There are several ongoing events associated with the exhibit:
An Evening with Cartoonist Roz Chast
Friday, May 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm
Join award-winning cartoonist Roz Chast for a lively look at her prolific career.
Funny Ladies: A Conversation with Four New Yorker Cartoonists
Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 6:30 pm
Join New Yorker cartoonists Liza Donnelly, Liana Finck, Marisa Acocella Marchetto, and Barbara Smaller to hear their views on working in this traditionally male-dominated profession and to discuss the business today, the creative process, and the origins of their distinct brands of humor. There’s also this video Chast made of drawing the mural “Subway Sofa” seen at the start of the exhibit.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.