Past Exhibits

  • Gillray's Legacy Gillray's Legacy September 15, 2004 - December 10, 2004

    The Reading Room Gallery
    September 15, 2004 – December 10, 2004


    Gillray’s Legacy coincides with the 2004 Festival of Cartoon Art. Celebrating Georgian England’s greatest caricaturist as part of a twenty-first century conference focusing on censorship, self-censorship and editorial control may seem far-fetched. During an election year at a time of heightened national and international concerns, it is, however, most appropriate to remember that James Gillray was neither restrained nor genteel with his art. Some of the works in this exhibit would not be printed in a newspaper, and several others would draw angry letters to the editor.

    In eighteenth century Britain , as Diana Donald notes, “No licensing of presses nor prior censorship impeded the circulation of these frequently abusive, scurrilous and volatile productions [graphic satires]. They were gestural, functioning as an assertion of defiant independence and protest against government which would have been unthinkable in most other European countries…” She continues by noting that “Foreign observers…were stunned by the apparently reckless way in which caricaturists ridiculed and vilified the nation’s leaders, and took this as indicative of the political freedoms enjoyed by the British people.”

    The political and social prints that were popular in Georgian England sometimes served as samples for printers in the Colonies who also wanted to criticize George III and politicians on this side of the Atlantic. On occasion, they became more than an inspiration when a Colonial engraver “adapted” a design from England without crediting the source. The British legacy of unfettered graphic commentary provided the roots of cartooning in the New World.

    Designs by Gillray from the collections of The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library in this exhibition are supplemented by reproductions of his work courtesy of the Library of Congress, Art Institute of Chicago, and Draper Hill. They represent two decades of his social and political satire. In addition, the Hale Scrapbook is displayed as an example of how one family used engravings for amusement. Items in the Hale Scrapbook were originally fixed in place with red sealing wax and they were moved from page to page as different people rearranged the book’s contents to suit themselves. Scrapbooking was a common practice: William Makepeace Thackeray remembered that in his grandfather’s generation, “…there would be in the old gentleman’s library two or three old mottled portofolios, or great swollen scrap-books of blue paper, full of the comic prints of grandpapa’s time…How savage the satire was — how fierce the assault — what garbage hurled at opponents — what foul blows were hit… Fancy a party in a country-house now [1854] looking over Wooward’s facetiae, or some of the Gilray [sic] comicalities, or the slatternly Saturnalia of Rowlandson!”

    The idea that engravings were a form of entertainment is important in our understanding of the works in this exhibition. Just like today, people in Georgian England enjoyed a good joke at the expense of politicians.

  • Hoo-Boy! Morrie Brickman's The Small Society Hoo-Boy! Morrie Brickman's The Small Society November 2, 2003 - February 27, 2004

    The Reading Room Gallery
    November 2, 2003 – February 27, 2004


    In 1966 Morrie Brickman created something different. The writer of a news story about the debut of the feature was undecided about whether it should be described as an “editorial comic strip” or a “political satire.” It was “both and neither,” according to cartoon historian Richard Samuel West, who continues by stating, “Even to this day, The Small Society defies neat categorization… Unlike all comic strips that preceded it, The Small Society was driven primarily by its topic for the day, not by its characters (who were generally Everyman and Everywoman), nor by a race to the punchline. Unlike the political cartoons of the period, The Small Society eschewed politicians and headlines in the particular to find the universal in public debate.”

    The comic strip’s title provides a window into the cartoonist’s intent: “The Great Society,” Lyndon Johnson’s high-flown vision for the future of the United States, was making headlines. By titling his new comic strip The Small Society, Brickman made his perspective clear. His worldview is the everyday, and quirks of his characters belong to all of us. This is the comic strip’s greatest strength. Between1966 and 1985, from Vietnam to Reaganomics, current events and American life are satirized in The Small Society. Grocery prices, inflation, taxes, family-the stuff of life for everyone-are covered in Brickman’s comic strip, often accompanied by a resounding “hoo-boy” that reflected his amazement at the world around him.

    This exhibition and related events are cosponsored by The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library, its Milton Caniff Endowment, the Victor Herbert Foundation and Herbert P. Jacoby in memory of Marge Devine, the Mark J. Cohen and Rose Marie McDaniel Endowment, the Department of Theatre, and the Melton Center for Jewish Studies.

  • Arnold Roth | Free Lance: A Fifty Year Retrospective Arnold Roth | Free Lance: A Fifty Year Retrospective February 15, 2002 - May 17, 2002

    The Reading Room Gallery
    February 15, 2002 – May 17, 2002


    Arnold Roth: Free Lance celebrates the fun that Roth has had–and has shared with us–for more than fifty years. He knows what he wants to draw and enjoys doing it. His hand is sure and facile as it moves to create images that capture their viewer’s imagination, pictures that seem already to be completed in his mind and flow onto the page. His sens of color is subtle, adding to the drawing but never overwhelming its lines. His bravura control of watercolor, breathtaking.

    Cartoonists do no create their art with the expectation that it will be exhibited in its original form. The cartoon is working art: it is created to be reproduced. Because of this, cartoons have generally not been treated as “art” either by those who create them or by editors and printers who transform them into their published versions. Marginal notes and stickers, such as registration marks for color separations, are common on origianl cartoons. Sometimes work is cut apart and glued onto different paper in an alternative format. Occasionally corrections made with white-out are visible.

    While Arnold Roth’s original art has all of the editorial makrs and stickers common to most original cartoons, it is uncommonly clean and has very little evidence of correction or redrawing. Unlike many artists of his generation, Roth was successful in having his original work returned to him by the editors and publishers who commissioned it. The final selection for this exhibition was guided by an effort to document the breadth and scope of Arnold Roth’s freelance career as copletely as possible.

    Roth’s work must be read carefully, not simply “looked at.” It requires the active participation of the viewer to catch the subtleties which are, in fact, the heart of his work. Arnold Roth: Free Lance is a celebration of many things: an outstanding talent, a long and remarkable career, success and many honors; but most of all, it is a celebration of the joy of making art and the pleasure it brings to others.

    Co-sponsors of the exhibition are The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library and University of the Arts, where it opened in Philadelphia in the fall of 2001. In 2002 and 2003 it will travel to San Francisco, New York, London, and Basel.

  • Cartoons by Leland S. McClelland: A Retrospective Exhibition Cartoons by Leland S. McClelland: A Retrospective Exhibition February 28, 2000 - May 26, 2000

    The Reading Room Gallery
    February 28, 2000 – May 26, 2000

    Because he is so well-known as a watercolorist, many may be surprised to know that Leland S. McClelland’s first ambition was to be a cartoonist. Drawing Attention: Pen Stroke and Perspectives from Great Lakes Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society published in 1997 includes the following autobiographical statement:

    “From the time I was old enough to read the funnies I wanted to be a cartoonist on theColumbus Citizen, one of the two afternoon newspapers in the city at that time. I didn’t want to be on the Chicago Tribune or any other big papers – just the Citizen. In the summer between my two years of studying art and cartooning at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, I took my samples in to the managing editor of the Citizen. He liked what he saw and hired me for the summer, even though I wasn’t all that good. He held the job open for me for the next year until I finished at the CAFA. I held the job until the paper went the way that so many papers did – it folded in 1959.
    I went to work for the city’s largest ad agency and stayed until 1964 when I quit and opened my own studio. When I left the Citizen, I started to paint watercolors which I did until I retired. I’ve always loved cartooning and cartoonists – they’re my kind of people. I’ll always consider myself a cartoonist first and something else second. ”

    Leland Shank McClelland was born in Columbus on May 23, 1914, the son of C. P. McClelland, the probate court judge, and Grace Shank, a homemaker. He is a graduate of East High School and attended Ohio State University before transferring to the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts where he graduated in 1936. He married Olga Anne Schlesinger, his high school sweetheart in 1937, and they had a daughter, Mary Susan, and a son, Jeffrey Lee. Mrs. McClelland died in 1987, shortly after the couple celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

    After his cartooning job at the Columbus Citizen ended, McClelland taught himself to watercolor. A prolific artist, he was known for completing three paintings a week for twenty-five years prior to his retirement in 1994. His paintings are in the collections of the Columbus Museum of Art, Capital University’s Schumacher Gallery, the Zanesville Art Institute as well as in the homes of many central Ohioans. Collections of his original cartoons are held at the Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library and the Columbus College of Art and Design, where he taught for sixteen years. He was a founder of the Bexley Area Art Guild and the Central Ohio Watercolor Society. He also served for ten years as Director of Fine Arts at the Ohio State Fair. McClelland was very active in the Columbus community serving as president of the Columbus Art League, Arts Council of Columbus, Downtown Lions Club, and Athletic club.

    McClelland’s Cartoon Parade was part of a long tradition among Columbus cartoonists that originated with Billy Ireland’s Passing Show. Each Sunday the newspaper devoted a full-page cartoon to goings-on in the community and, in McClelland’s case, the growth and change in post-war Columbus. As I remember It was a somewhat nostalgic panel cartoon series in which the cartoonist reflected on his childhood and past events. Both features were done with crisp line and sure hand of an expert, and each reveals McClelland’s perspective on life and his affection for central Ohio. Occasionally in Cartoon Parade he ventured into the area of political commentary, but always with gentle humor. For almost twenty-three years, Leland S. McClelland’s cartoons chronicled and commented on his world. We are richer for this legacy.

  • Cartooning Aids Around the World Cartooning Aids Around the World September 20, 1999 - January 21, 2000


    The Reading Room Gallery
    September 20, 1999 – January 21, 2000


    Cartooning AIDS Around the World was conceived and organized by David Horsey (the editorial cartoonist for the Seattle Post- Intelligencer who won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for his work) and Maury Forman (a historian of political cartooning) in 1992 with the assistance of Cartoon, Inc. and Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate. The exhibition is a survey of forty-three international AIDS cartoons and, as such, is an interesting reminder of how our understanding of HIV/AIDS has changed in the intervening years. The exhibit toured to twenty-nine venues throughout the United states under the auspices of Exhibit Touring Services before it was donated to The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library by its organizers in 1999.
    We are grateful to the donors and to the cartoonists who provided their artwork for inclusion in the exhibition and the companion book, Cartooning AIDS Around the World, published by Kendall-Hunt. Additional support for mounting the exhibition initially was provided by Bumbershoot, the Seattle Arts Festival.

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