The American Sign Museum houses the side of a barn that displays a hand-painted Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco advertisement typical of Mail Pouch barns that once dotted the mid-west landscape. This was a unique form of advertising and provides a distinct example of Roadside Americana that is so popular with museum visitors.
Many visitors may remember seeing these barns, but few know – or consider the fascinating stories behind them, including the men who traveled the highways maintaining them. Nor do they know the story behind the museum’s acquisition of this particular wall.
Now, thanks to a matching Project Support Grant from ArtsWave, we will be undertaking a project that will allow visitors to experience the story first-hand through videos and displays that bring the story to life.
The project will edit an existing video that captures the essence of the Mail Pouch story and the acquisition of this particular wall; create a shorter, summary video; and produce a third video generated from an interview with Harley Warrick, the last Mail Pouch painter. The videos will display through a touch screen monitor mounted within a custom-built, mobile kiosk.
The display will include a “swing stage” hung from the barn wall with a vintage block-and-tackle system that will support a mannequin dressed in Harley Warrick’s typical clothing, along with examples of the tools and materials he used. The goal is to ‘inform and educate’ per the museum’s mission statement in an entertaining way that will provide a shared experience for visitors and will initiate conversations among and across groups viewing the display.
We are very grateful to the decision-makers at ArtsWave for making this grant a reality and to the community supporters of ArtsWave that enables the organization to ‘impact the arts’ here in Cincinnati. Watch for the new display this summer.