Toledo Art and Hot Dogs
The young artist has turned the idea of some traditional gallery paintings upside down and inside out. No more white historical soldiers on horseback or partially nude women reclining on sofas. This exhibition features really big and really bold works. And my niece, her first-ever trip to the museum, is equally impressed by the wide gulf between the traditional, centuries-old canvases and Wiley’s freshly minted pieces.
She gazes, nose almost touching canvas, staring at something slightly shocking. And there are literally hundreds of them. You’ll have to see for yourself when you check out “Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” In fact, we peered so closely that an attentive docent invites us to peer from slightly farther away.
We back up and stare up at a massive canvas featuring a black man riding a white horse rearing and wearing green camos, Timberlands, a Starter sweatband and a Tupac-style bandana. Some of Wiley's canvasses cover a hundred square feet and are exquisitely detailed, with hundreds of feet of winding, twisting flowering foliage.
The painting which seems to garner the most ooohs and aaahs features Michael Jackson atop another handsome horse outfitted with a cape, sword, armor and other items that Jackson would have absolutely loved. From simple portraiture to stained glass-style works mimicking pieces from the ancient masters, all feature modern black folks, real people from America and around the world.
As one woman snaps a photo of Michael Jackson, otherwise known as “Equestrian Portrait of King Phillip II,” her friend whispers “This is amazing.” The exhibit also includes several digital works including short films. The Sunday we visited, a live opera erformance took place in an adjacent gallery. In addition, we stumbled into scenes where University of Toledo students were filming a movie. We crossed their paths several times and all the while they were pointing big cameras and slapping a clapperboard, saying artistic things like “Take!”
Leaving, Brittany leans against my shoulder and asks half-laughing half-demanding: "When are we coming back?!" Wiley’s works will be hanging out in Toledo through May 14 and admission is free. Museum lot parking is $7.
Art always makes me hungry, so we made the quick four-mile trek to the original Tony Packo’s, just across the river, for a late afternoon snack. I’d never been there, though Brittany had been to one of their satellite locations. As a side note, I once worked with a fellow in Cincinnati who would drive to Toledo once a year to eat an anniversary dinner at Tony Packo's with his wife, then return home. I knew it must be something good.
What appears to be a little corner spot is really a huge restaurant, with bar. And a whole lot of buns. Yep, buns. In little plastic bun cases, signed by folks who have eaten there. I inquired about signing one but was flatly turned down. Apparently, only famous people sign buns. Like John Kasich, Kid Rock, Jerry Springer, Bobby Knight and Rick Moody, among hundreds of others. Plus a handful of Presidents.
While I didn’t sign any buns, I got to eat a few with my famous Tony Paco’s Hungarian hot dogs, smothered in chili, onions, mustard and cheese. Very good – especially with the spicy ketchup which seemed to be some cross between ketchup, cocktail sauce and salsa. That came with our fried pickles. No explanation needed there.
Brittany ordered chicken paprikas, which is, essentially, two massive chicken breasts smothered in a super-secret paprika sauce served on a bed of about 300 tiny dumplings.
A nice finish, relaxing at Packo’s after a long day discovering and re-discovering The Toledo Museum of Art.