Collections are common, and autographs are among the most commonly collected things. People enjoy having a sense of rarity to the items in their possession, and they enjoy having little mementos of their brushes with fame.
And then there’s Paul Schmelzer’s autograph collection, which gets art gallery showings.
It’s not that the collection is particularly extensive, although the relative fame of the people who’ve signed for him is somewhat impressive. Architect Frank Gehry, musician Henry Rollins, modern artist Laurie Anderson, director Peter Bogdanovich, documentarian Errol Morris, wrestler/actor/politician/conspiracy theorist Jesse Ventura, civil rights leader Julian Bond, voice actor Dan Castellaneta and more.
What makes it distinctive is how they’ve signed. Specifically, the name they’ve signed… which is Paul Schmelzer.
The former political journalist, magazine editor and art blogger was inspired by seeing an incident between an eight year old and a famous musician, where the musician understandably misunderstood the child’s request about a signature.
Schmeltzer worked for years to amass the autographs, some in person and some through the mail. Sometimes the people would misunderstand and just sign their own names. But dozens complied, and now he has a unique collection. Thousands of people can honestly say they have Yoko Ono’s signature, but only Paul Schmelzer can honestly say he has Yoko Ono’s signature of Paul Schmelzer’s name.
Then again, I expect he’s the only one who would want to say that.
Question of the night: What, if any, signed/autographed item(s) do you own?