Works by Rube Goldberg Now on Exhibit

Original Article Published On The  Jewish Ledger

STAMFORD — “Creative Contraptions,” a four-part exhibition featuring the cartoons, sketches and inventions of Rube Goldberg, are currently on display at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center through May 22.

Rube Goldberg, who lived from 1883-1970, was the artist, cartoonist and inventor so well-known for his intricate, whimsical creations that the Webster’s New World Dictionary defines Rube Goldberg as an adjective “designating any very complicated invention, machine, scheme, etc. laboriously contrived to perform a seemingly simple operation.”

“Goldberg, one of the 20th century’s most prominent humorists, is best remembered for his wacky and complex inventions’ which proposed hilarious multi-step solutions to relatively simple problems,” explained Rosa Portell, the SMNC curator of collections. “His depiction of maximum effort to accomplish minimum results’ offered a sarcastic counterpoint to the numerous labor-saving devices marketed in the 20th century.”

Goldberg, who was trained as an engineer, created his works using a “readily recognizable visual language of action and reaction in which birds, mice, monkeys, porcupines and goats set pulleys in motion, springs uncoiled, weights dropped and bells rang, all towards a pre-determined and hilarious outcome. His madcap world was presided over by the likes of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts and was populated by delightfully drawn characters cursed with everyday foibles,” Portell said.

The exhibition includes original works from the Rube Goldberg Collection, which was donated by the artist’s son, George W. George of Stamford, to Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Mass., and additional loans from Bill Janocha of Stamford and Stuart Reisbord of Wallingford, Penn.

The exhibit includes pieces like “Simple way to dispose of a strange bug crawling on the wall.” The piece shows 12-steps, starting with a man yelling and scaring a rabbit, and ending with a feather tickling the bug under the chin so he laughs himself to death.

Also featured are Goldberg’s multi-step sketches including “Automatic sheet music turner,” “A simple way to take your own picture,” “Simple way to turn off the light if you forget when leaving the room” and “simple idea to keep you from forgetting to mail your wife’s letter.”

The exhibit also includes works created by four professional Connecticut artists, who submitted proposals for works that responded to characteristics of Goldberg’s creations Works by Ellen Hackl Fagan of Greenwich, Alexander Isley of Ridgefield, Chris McQuilkin of Ridgefield and Margaret Roleke of Redding were selected by Jessica Hough, associate curator, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum; Deborah Rothschild, senior curator, modern and contemporary art, the Williams College Museum of Art; and Deborah Schwartz, deputy director, education department, Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibition also includes a section of concepts by students in grades K12, who were invited to submit drawings of kooky inventions that could complete a simple, everyday task in five or more steps. The final section encourages visitor participation in the “Build a Better Mousetrap” hands-on room, which includes a number of interactive contraptions.

“Creative Contraptions,” an exhibit of the cartoons, sketches and inventions of Rube Goldberg, will be on display at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center through May 22.

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