Moniker: Identity Lost and Found, an unprecedented documentation of mark-making and monikers in rail yards, will open in the main gallery at the Massillon Museum on June 23 and continue through October 21, 2018. A 144-page, full-color, hardbound catalog will accompany the exhibition.
The book contains images of early chalk drawings on boxcars, railroad artifacts, and news clippings, as well as essays about the art form and some of the artists from the past. Photographs of panels that will be included in the exhibition bear the monikers of contemporary mark-makers—including including Colossus of Roads, Coaltrain, The Rambler, Smokin’ Joe, The Solo Artist, and Swampy.
One of the essays features adventure author Jack London, who had ties to Massillon. One of the images, a 1914 print from a glass plate negative, reveals an iconic moniker on the side of a boxcar at the site of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s collapsed roundhouse in Massillon, and signifies the oldest photograph of a moniker on a train car known to exist.
Contributors to the catalog include buZ blurr, Alexandra Nicholis Coon, Andy Dreamingwolf, Paul Bauer, Mark Dawidziak, Susan A. Phillips, Scot Phillips, Kurt Tors, and Michael Green.
The curatorial team—Andy Dreamingwolf, exhibition guest curator; Kurt Tors, artist liaison; and Massillon Museum Operations Officer Scot Phillips, project director—have created the exhibition to preserve the folklore of mark-making, while protecting its mystery. They believe that seeing the monikers and memorabilia in the quiet, clean atmosphere of a museum gallery will be the antithesis of the loud and dirty rail yards where the art form is created.
The team traveled throughout the United States, focusing on regions where mark-makers have been especially prolific. Meeting face-to-face with as many legendary artists as possible, they recorded oral histories to preserve their legacies. The team has spent three years gathering images, information, artifacts, sounds, and contemporary artwork for the exhibition and the catalog. The Massillon Museum is documenting this history so it will remain a part of railroad heritage for future generations.
The exhibition itself will encompass historic photographs, scrapbooks, railroad artifacts, news clippings, letters, audio and video components. Among the most important works in the exhibition will be never-before-seen personal artifacts of the late Bozo Texino, whose style and name have been appropriated by a number of artists since the era when he was most active—the 1910s, ’20s, and ’30s. Another of the iconic past practitioners represented in the exhibition will be the late Margaret Kilgallen, a renowned figure in graffiti culture.
Intended as a collector’s item, just 400 copies of the catalog are being produced. It will first be available to the public during the exhibition opening on June 23. The book, with the exhibition logo embossed on the cover, was designed by the curatorial team and printed at Bates Printing in Massillon.
“Contributing to art and history scholarship is important to the Massillon Museum,” said Massillon Museum Executive Director Alexandra Nicholis Coon. “Our archivist published a book with Arcadia in 2017, and we have a long history of catalog publication, both independent and collaborative. Some of the recent projects on which we’ve worked include Tiger Legacy (Daylight Books), Faces of Rural America (2011, Massillon Museum), and Between Two Worlds: The Photography of Nell Dorr (2010, Massillon Museum). We are grateful to have received a generous grant from Ohio Humanities to assist with production of this catalog.”
The exhibition opening on Saturday, June 23, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., will be free and open to the public. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, a number of lectures, workshops, and related programs will be offered, nearly all free and open to everyone.
Moniker: Identity Lost and Found can be seen during regular Museum hours: Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 2:00 to 5:00. The Museum will be closed on Wednesday, July 4, to commemorate Independence Day. A visit to the Massillon Museum is always free.
The Moniker exhibition and catalog are funded, in part, by Ohio Humanities, with additional support from the Tom E. Dailey Foundation and Cyrus Custom Framing. The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark.
The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon, Ohio. For more information call Museum Operations Officer Scot Phillips, exhibition project director, at 330.833.4061 x110 or visit massillonmuseum.org.