Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun
July 6, 2010
When graphic designer Pete Hilsee first came to the American Visionary Art Museum six years ago, it was just as a volunteer. "My first job was to build a parachute for a rubber chicken. And I thought, 'Now this is a place where I want to be!'" Now, AVAM's director of communications, Hilsee's desk reflects the humorous sensibility that he shares with his workplace.
Hilsee describes himself as a "fair-weather biker." So, when he does ride his bike from his Mount Washington home into work, he packs his afternoon snack into this banana bunker (top left). "There's a lot of jostling, so it's nice to know there's a product that addresses that."
At bottom left is his certificate confirming his recent ordination as a minister of the Universal Life Church. He'll be officiating at the wedding of some friends soon.
He keeps his artistic side busy by continuing to do some of the graphic design for the museum. On his screen is the flier he was working on to promote the July 29 showing of "King Kong" in AVAM's outdoor film series, "Flicks From The Hill." To its right is another creative work in progress: a Captain America Shrinky Dink mezuzah Hilsee is making for a friend.
His green and white mouse wrist rest is made of duct tape. "Duct tape solves a lot of problems around here."
Behind the monitor is the electric typewriter Hilsee used in high school. "My dad worked at IBM and brought home this 'innovative product.'" Hilsee says he keeps it not just for nostalgic reasons -- he still uses it sometimes for fun, or for "special effects" in his graphic-design projects.
You could say his pencil pot, an old crushed tomato can, holds his life in miniature. In it, you'll find tools of his trade -- a bone folder, exacto knife, burnisher, pens, scissors -- as well as a Jesus pen topper, a "Smile on a Stick," a backscratcher and pinwheel. It also contains a bent bolt from Bumpo the Elephant that he rides each year in the museum's annual Kinetic Sculpture Race. "This souvenir came off Bumpo in the 2010 race, when we experienced some near-catastrophic damage in the mudpit."