Ted Frankel, lifelong collector and owner of SIDESHOW, the award-winning gift shop in The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore joins ACO guests on February 18. Known fondly by his many fans as Uncle Fun, Ted’s philosophy for collecting is an ideal complement to the museum’s intuitive approach to self-taught artistry. SIDESHOW is packed with fun and wonder as well as original art, books, and oddball gifts.
Ted left Shaker Heights, OH, to attend Washington University where he received a BFA in graphic communications. After college, he moved to Chicago, IL, and worked as a graphic designer for over 20 years. Some of his clients included Jerky Treats for dogs, Parkay margarine, and Morris the Cat. He also designed corporate logos and educational children’s books. When Ted opened his first store, Goodies, he soon realized it was easier pleasing customers than clients. After Goodies, Ted opened Fly Paper, Paper Boy, and the flagship, Uncle Fun. Uncle Fun became a Chicago legend.
In 2004, Rebecca Hoffberger, the founder and director of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, convinced Ted to open a new shop inside the museum, and SIDESHOW was born. After 38 years of business, he closed his shops in Chicago. Like AVAM, SIDESHOW encourages visitors to discard preconceived notions of what makes good or bad art. Instead, SIDESHOW offers a reprieve from the rules of the real world. Just take time to “wonder” and enjoy what makes you smile.
Ted believes “anything touched by human hands is special,” and that is evident in the art that covers nearly every inch of the walls in his home. It includes mini-portraits made from sock threads of prison inmate Ray Materson, offbeat family-life paintings by Martin Mull, and jarring Matt Sesow paintings. Then there are the chandeliers, one crafted almost entirely of spoons and another cobbled together from clear plastic hangers. There are even paintings and sculptures created by Ted and his husband, Bill Gilmore.
Ted’s rules for life include:
* ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EYES AND HEART OPEN AND NEVER CLOSE YOUR MIND
* BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
* DON’T LET NEGATIVITY SEAP INTO YOUR GOALS
* IF YOU CAN HELP SOMEONE WITHOUT HURTING YOURSELF, YOU SHOULD
* SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE AND THINGS YOU LOVE
* ALWAYS THINK IN THE SHOWER
* IF YOU NEED TO BLOW YOUR NOSE, USE A KLEENEX