After experiencing the graphic work of Roz Chast in the pages of The New Yorker and in her award-inning visual memoir — “Can’t We Talk About Something Else?” — fans will take much pleasure in seeing her work on a larger scale.
In a show at the Museum of the City of New York, “Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs,” her drawings in color and black-and-white capture everyday anxieties and eccentricities. Her sensibility is uniquely – and emphatically – New York.
The show is comprehensive but not overwhelming. Work from her early years shows how early she found her style and voice. Yet over the years, she has stayed fresh and funny, and seems to discover the world anew. A short video provides a sense of the person behind the images: She was born to draw.
In “Subway Sofa,” she replaces, in her stylish hand, a subway bench with a sofa. The seated passengers read their books and magazines, with a coffee table in front of them and paintings instead of subway posters behind. The train is bound for “The Unknown.” This cartoon appears in full color, and also, in black and white, life-sized. Visitors enter her witty, not-what-you-expect world.
Chast gets more personal in “Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?” (2014), recounting her parents’ decline. The book is simultaneously poignant, tragic, funny. And true. She deals with issues of love and guilt, resentment and tenderness, helplessness in the face of an inevitable weakening, and ongoing grim financial obligation, all entangled.
“Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs” is on view at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, through October 16th.
Sharon Anstey is a writer and business consultant.