Saturday, April 18, 2009

Outsider Art - Inside and Out

I'm a varied interest person. That's a polite way of putting it.........

One of my wacky passions is seeing outsider environments. I make a trip each year called "The Eyeopener Tour" during the Memorial Day holiday. This will be my fourth trip with this fun, knowledgeable and collecting group.

Some of the things we'll see and do for five days is see The Tile House, Tinkertown and The Casa de Colores in Albuquerque. Then we'll head to Santa Fe to the Museum of Intl Folk Art and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Georgia was NOT an outsider artist but a skilled and trained artist.

Outsider artists are self-taught. They typically "make their art" out of a compulsion to create and not for monetary gain. There are and were many itinerant black artists in the early part of the 20th century who chronicled their lives in many ways, not just paint on canvas but in whirlygigs, signs, constructions and environments around and in their homes. It is absolutely fascinating to me to see these creations. Some works such as Bill Traylor who was discovered I believe in the mid 50's in Alabama sold his work at that time for mere dollars - his work now is in the six figures at times. There are many others with similar stories.

I'll never forget Foreverton in Baraboo Wisconsin. I was utterly speechless when we arrived at the acres and acres of creations created out of recycled factory parts. Some, twenty, thirty feet high. It has been featured in many TV specials along with others I have seen. Rodin's sculptures, in my estimation, were no grander then those seen at Foreverton. I'm sure if you're interested, you can put that in your search engine and be amazed too.

Edward James sculpture gardens at Las Pozas in Xilitla, Mexico is considered a "premier" outsider environment. It is worth the drive to see. More amazing then Foreverton.

We will visit the homes and studios of some of these artists. They have no pretention (my kind of people) and graciously welcome us into their homes, which are usually very humble abodes.
Most of these artists are astonished at the attention that is lavished on them and don't understand what all the fuss is them it's just something "they have to create".

It often reminds me of being in the simple villages of Mexico when a Great Master welcomes you graciously into their homes.

A course at Rice University many years ago introduced me to the galleries that represent some of these people. In addition, the depth and breadth of the work is astounding. In Europe it is called Art Brut.

Many people collect the work of these people - I being one of them - BUT since I have reached critical mass, I doubt I will be buying anything this year..............Mr "No Bull" still sits proudly in the dining room, and Sam the Dot Man's Lighted Church is on the armoire in the bedroom.....Just a few of many treasures. I am going to attempt to curb my "overwhelming impetuousness". Ha.

The Kohler Foundation is one of the largest financial contributors to maintaining and supporting the environments as well as assisting the artists. There are many other institutions and benefactors.

If you would like to be inspired by something totally different then the normal definition of art, here are some sites to look at.

Another "happy trail" for me!


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