I was fortunate to spend a part of the Holidays in Colorado Springs this year. I was delighted to discover that the Pikes Peak Fine Arts Center is hosting a model railroading exhibit through January 2, 2016, featuring N scale and HO scale modular club layouts. The layouts are from a local club, the N-gineers, and local members of the National Model Railroad Society. If you are in anywhere near Colorado Springs this week, you should stop by the exhibit if you can.
Club Members are on-hand to run the layouts and talk to visitors about … well, anything at all about model railroading and the layouts. Both layouts had a scavenger hunt, challenging visitors to find various scenes and scenic elements. I spent a delightful hour there after Christmas.
It might seem odd to have operating railroad layouts in rooms whose walls are adorned with fine Native American art, Santa Fe folk art and works from Taos masters like Young-Hunter, Couse, Sharpe, Feschin and Gaspard. But you know what? They’re on to something here.
Model Railroading is a form of kinetic folk art. It’s is an art form defined by the subject matter: a Railroad and its environment. From there, its up to the artist–modeler–to represent things both real and imagined using the chosen canvas and media. Sometimes the artistry is in the subtle use of material and selective compression to represent a bigger scene. Often the art of model railroading is a celebration of industrial form and function.
I had not thought about it that way before. Here is yet another reason to encourage young people to get involved and express themselves through this unique art form.