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Experience America, Experience Mingering Mike

The Experience America exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum blends, with a fresh eye, pieces from the museum’s permanent collections – including a number of stars from the Federal Works of Art Program exhibit of a few years ago, featured in my Smithsonian piece. Others come from private collections. Together these paintings help break down the silos separating images from the 1930s and ’40s and portray America and American realism in a new light. It’s a refreshing and inviting exhibit.

Upstairs, the rooms devoted to Mingering Mike’s Supersonic Greatest Hits reveal a new form of outsider art: the LP oeuvre of a recording artist who never released a disc. The album covers track the career of a soul star from DC’s streets, Mingering Mike. His vision comes complete with liner notes, lyrics and cardboard records hand-painted with grooves suggesting hi-fi tunes the appropriate length. You can also see his platinum hits. The exhibit is a fascinating little gem. There’s a fun piece about the artist on Studio 360.

Enjoy them both.

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