LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The upcoming exhibit, “Jim Davis: An Indiana Legend” at the Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana Art stands out for a few reasons. Not only is it the first temporary show, it’s a rare one at that.

You might recognize Davis’ name. The Hoosier native created Garfield, the fat orange cat who’s worked his way into our collective good graces despite his laziness and ornery antics.

Davis’ writing, art and business acumen was certainly in Bob Haan’s mind the day he and wife Ellie met the creator at the Governor’s Arts Awards banquet. The Haan Museum founders asked if Davis would be interested in putting together an exhibit for the space, and he agreed.

While you’ve likely witnessed Garfield grace the silver screen, TV screen, newspaper and inside of car windows, you might not have seen memorabilia of the steps it took to get him there. And that’s precisely what will comprise the Haan Museum’s exhibit.

Kim Campbell Beasley, director of public relations for Paws Inc., said the company doesn’t often assemble exhibits like this because of the work involved in pulling, inventorying and packaging the items for display. Paws manages the creative, business and licensing ends for Garfield.

Because of Davis’ soft spot for Indiana and penchant for lending the character to projects that help Hoosiers, working with the Haan Museum made sense, Beasley said.

Guest curator Elizabeth Weaver and the Haans are arranging the show, which begins Sept. 10, placing sketches, comics at different stages, photos of Davis growing up, movie slides, TV storyboards and, of course, Garfield memorabilia. The exhibit also will include a hands-on activity room for kids, Bob Haan said.

“It’s not about Garfield because he’s not the artist. Jim’s the artist. But you can’t have anything about Jim unless you have Garfield,” Haan said.

The Haans are excited to host the Indiana icon as their first exhibit. So is recent Purdue University graduate Weaver, who has loved the strip since childhood and named a teddy bear after Garfield’s adorable buddy, Pooky. While Garfield is global, obvious ties to Indiana exist. Doc Boy, Mom, Dad, Grandma and Irma are caricatures of Davis’ family, Davis told the Journal & Courier in a message relayed through Beasley.

Regardless of his whereabouts, the cat has been relatable since he came on the scene in 1978.

“Garfield is just sort of … an anti-hero, and I think there’s a little bit of an anti-hero in all of us,” Beasley said.

The collection makes for an eye-catching first temporary show at the Haan Museum. Bob Haan said the gallery has been wanting to rotate fresh artwork through for some time without disturbing the first-floor setup. It found a solution by taking down art on the second floor to make room.

Consistent temporary showings will give returning visitors something new to see and broaden the audience, Haan said. The exhibits — and the regular hours that accompany them — also will provide more recognition in listings and travel publications for the museum, he said. Two more shows and the annual Christmas exhibit are scheduled to take the space through this time next year, he said.


Source: Journal & Courier, http://on.jconline.com/2c4mPQj


Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com

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