Ralph Steadman was the artistic yin to Hunter S. Thompson’s literary yang. (Or maybe it was vice versa.) They were collaborators and friends for 30 years, Steadman providing exquisitely outrageous illustrations that were perfectly suited to Thompson’s gonzo writing.
Steadman’s world renown as an artist stems in part – but hardly in total – from that long creative relationship. A special exhibition at the downtown Central Library, Ralph Steadman: A Retrospective, explores the full range of his inimitable work, including material from Private Eye, Punch, and Rolling Stone magazines; illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and George Orwell’s Animal Farm; savage political cartoons; and images of extinct, endangered, and imaginary birds created for the books Extinct Boids and more recent Critical Critters.
Also, of course: illustrations for the seminal Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and other writings by Thompson.
More than 100 of Steadman’s original works are featured in the exhibition, which will fill both of the Central Library’s two galleries and spill into the first-floor grand foyer, Kirk Hall. The Kansas City Public Library is one of a limited number of venues nationwide chosen to host the retrospective, which is sponsored by Audible, Flying Dog, and United Therapeutics.
The exhibit Eisenhower’s Middle Road spotlights a prescription for peace and prosperity that guided Ike throughout his eight years in the White House. He sought balance for America—the pursuit and preservation of social gains, for instance, while refraining from government overreach. The exhibit in the Central Library’s Rocky and Gabriella Mountain Gallery explores six key areas reflecting that approach.
Presented in partnership with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home. Work/research on the exhibit was funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
From an ever-growing collection of inmates’ paper plane submissions, Wills fashioned the exhibit Airplanes. The creations vary in size and design, some made from notebook and drawing paper, others from commissary lists, notices of denied appeals, and behavioral writeups. Their content and tone range from regret to hostility, from bravado to humility, each representing, according to Wills, “a vehicle of escape, missed opportunity, and in some cases rebellion for its creator.”
The exhibit also features Wills’ near-life-size depiction of a solitary-confinement prison cell, constructed according to sketches of those who’ve occupied them.