Art Spiegelman’s ‘CO-MIX’ exhibit now on at the Vancouver Art Gallery
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
Whether you’re a lover of all things comics or just someone who enjoys great art, the newest exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery has something incredible to offer for everyone. The new exhibit, entitled CO-MIX: A Retrospective of comics, graphics, and scraps, features an overwhelming number of pieces spanning the career of Art Spiegelman, best known for his Holocaust epic Maus, published throughout the ‘80s and completed in 1991. Much of Spiegelman’s life since the series has been spent asking the question of whether or not he has been living the shadow of success, or if he has just grown to be an entity of fame, and it feels as though that is what’s at the core of the exhibit.
It was last Thursday, Valentine’s Day no less, that I attended a media preview of this fantastic exhibit. I’ve written a lot about art for The Other Press, whether it’s been on or off campus, so believe me when I say that this exhibit shook me. The exhibit reminded me why I love comics, why I love the mentality behind comics, and more importantly, how the individual ideas are the ones that stick with us internally. We all know Batman is the greatest thing ever created, but in terms of stories, in terms of a frame popping out at you, or a line striking you—all that comes from the great ideas, and Spiegelman’s had a couple of them, to say the least.
The exhibit spans Spiegelman’s career, from its dingy beginnings until now. As he led us around the exhibit, talking in regard to each room, he reminded us how odd it is for one to be living within their fame. How it was that he intended Maus to be some underground series that wouldn’t be as beloved as it is today before he was long dead—then came the Internet.
But back to the point, CO-MIX features several rooms, lined to the brim with his work. From the scratchy doodles of his early years, to original frames of Maus issues lined up side by side, to his thought-provoking September 11 pieces, to his Garbage Pail Kids trading cards, we get to see a little bit from every single moment of Spiegelman’s long and brilliant career.
CO-MIX is unlike just about any exhibit the Vancouver Art Gallery has ever done. Sure, they’ve touched on comics in the past, but never to this caliber and never close to this much respect. Each room, whether it’s highlighting Maus, his work with The New Yorker, or even his less shocking (but equally amazing) children’s works, gives us a glimpse at a different career into Spiegelman’s career.
I don’t want to say too much more about the exhibit, only because the best way to describe it is that it needs to be seen. Rather, this exhibit needs to be experienced, in order, from start to finish, and then you need to take a breath, and when you’re done, head straight to Golden Age Collectables just a few blocks away. CO-MIX is a beautiful exhibit, and a reminder that no matter how you get into your career of choice (again folks, Garbage Pail Kids), eventually something magnificent will come of it. Let this next paraphrasing reassure you, because Spiegelman was adamant in stating how the Internet now has brought on a comic uprising unseen since their very beginning—everyone with a unique idea has a way to get it out there now, and who knows where it will lead… maybe to your own art exhibit?
CO-MIX was officially opened to the public on February 16, and will only be here until June 9.