‘Superheroes and Superstars’ – MSV exhibit displays comic book cover art by Alex Ross

Nancy Huth, deputy director of arts and education at the Museum of Shenandoah Valley, reads over documentation of the opening of the exhibition "Superheroes and Superstars: The Works of Alex Ross." The display includes the "Worlds Greatest Superheros 2005," left, and "Superpeople 2016," right. Rich Cooley/Daily


WINCHESTER – Superheroes have descended upon the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in the form of bright, colorful comic book cover art displayed on vivid red and blue walls.

The museum is featuring the works of Alex Ross, one of the great comic book artists with a traveling exhibition, “Superheroes and Superstars: The Works of Alex Ross,” through May 14.

The museum will be the first venue to host this aexhibit, which was organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and curated by Jesse Kowalski, curator of exhibitions.

Julie Armel, deputy director of community relations for the Winchester museum, said the new exhibition features over 100 original artworks by Ross, along with sculptures created by Ross as a child.

These are some of Alex Ross' early clay models that he used as part of his initial artwork. Ross is one of the world's most famous comic book artists and the MSV is the first venue to host this traveling exhibition. Rich Cooley/Daily

Nancy Huth, the museum’s deputy director of arts and education, said the anticipation for the exhibit is growing, noting that everyone “is very excited on social media” about the exhibition.

Armel said Ross has followers around the world because he appeals to an audience of all ages. Those who love older comic designs and enthusiasts who prefer the newer superheroes on screens today can all relate to the designs Ross has created.

He applies traditional illustration techniques to comic book images and his works are considered fine art, but with a science fiction theme, she said.

Ross began drawing TV commercials from memory at the age of 3 and by 13 he was scripting and drawing original comic books. His impact on the industry led him to win the Comic Buyer’s Guide Award for Favorite Painter so many times that the award was eventually retired.

Huth said the exhibition will be broken up into themes, with each room dedicated to a few characters. Marvel and DC comics designs will be featured throughout. Captain America, Superman, Batman, Star Wars, and the Avengers will come to life on the walls of the museum. Popular culture icons, such as The Beatles and Flash Gordon have also been drawn by Ross and will be displayed with the exhibit.

This is one of the clay models artist Alex Ross used in his work. Rich Cooley/Daily

Huth said Ross follows a traditional drawing process that doesn’t include the aid of computer programs to create his award-winning designs.

He studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the same school his mother attended as an illustrator. For his designs, Huth said he begins with a fully realized black and white drawing and then adds color. He also uses his friends as models to pose for the characters and takes reference photographs and uses those photos as a basis for his design.

“He works in this really traditional, very diligent way,” she said.

The entry of the exhibit will feature a recorded interview with Ross on a big screen TV to bring interactivity into experience.

Armel added that comic book workshops led by museum staff will allow those who own comic books to learn how to properly care and store them so they last.

Kids will also have a great time through a game, “Could You Be a Superhero?,” developed in partnership with the Independent School of Winchester. In the game, kids can determine how much of a superhero they are and they can also draw themselves as a superhero.

Armel said this is the first exhibit of its kind at the museum and that she is excited to showcase this contemporary art because it’s a break from the museum’s exhibits on art and history in the Shenandoah Valley.

The museum’s gift shop will also feature comic book merchandise for purchase.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com


If You Go
Location: 901 Amherst St., Winchester.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday through March and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through December.
Admission: $10 or $8 for seniors and youth ages 13 to 18. Free to youth ages 12 and under and to MSV Members. Admission is free to all every Wednesday.