Sunday, May 18, 2014

Outsider Art Fair

Following our meeting with Sue Kreitzman two weeks ago, we were reminded that the Outsider Art Fair would have its annual exhibition here, so we made a trip on Sunday.  The Fair used to be held in February, and it was delightful not to have to brave snow and black ice, but rather to have sun and warm temperatures on the day of our visit.  Although we kept our eyes peeled for Kreitzman sightings, we were unsuccessful.  We figured she must have gone on Saturday and  only after the fact did we learn that we were two ships passing in the night, just missing each other at a variety of booths.

Since we often focus on clothes, it seemed appropriate to look at other people's views of clothes, too.  Here's a multimedia piece by the late James Castle at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery.  Castle was born deaf and mute, but expressed himself eloquently with pencil and paper.  Read more about Castle's interesting story here.

At Galerie Bonheur we saw the work of Craig Norton, who did large cutouts in various media of people in his town.  Below, the folds in The Preacher's gown are achieved by actually cutting slivers of material out of the uppermost layer.  Norton's figures, and their faces, are very expressive.

Also at Galerie Bonheur was this beautiful watercolor by Justin McCarthy.

Some of the works we saw were characterized by the endless patience of the artist.  Carl Hammer Gallery had several works by Jesse Howard, who held forth on numerous topics on large canvases.  You can read more about Jesse here.

At Pure Vision Arts we found the tiny artworks of Oscar Azmitia.  His profiles of such well known figures as Ronald McDonald and Batman (seen here) and Fred Flintstone, Cookie Monster, and Darth Vader (not shown) are all painted on pennies, and framed in cardboard penny files.

The work below was done on a canceled postage stamp.  We found this amazingly detailed work at Yukiko Koide Presents.  The gallerist explained to us that the artist, Tomoatsu Takase, was intrigued by magnified pictures of microbes, and sought to reproduce that effect in his work.  So small and detailed is Takase's work that Koide's booth has maganifying glasses on hand.  Most of his work is done in black and white.  This piece, Patterned Background, is unusual for being in color.

But surely the most detailed work we saw was by Kongo Laroze of Haiti.  This untitled work, one of several by the artist, had to be about four feet square, and was made entirely of buttons.

We stopped briefly for a nibble, and had the opportunity to meet Susann Craig of Raw Vision magazine, devoted to outsider art.  Don't you love her hair?  And her earrings?  She obligingly took one off to show us.  They're aluminum, and hinged at the ear.

We were also greeted by Justin Jorgenson. the creative force behind Dapper Day at Disneyland.  We had to ask him where he got his shirt, and were disappointed to discover that we missed our opportunity to get one ourselves - they were sold last year at Topman, the men's side of Topshop.  Topman did a line of Memphis Group designs.  Justin figures this was the best of the lot.

It was Mother's Day.  We ran into Jennifer, dressed mostly in white, and her mom, dressed mostly in black (but both in hats!), for a great study in contrasting pairs.

The last time we wrote about the Outsider Art Fair, we mentioned Gerard Cambon, showing at the Judy Saslow Gallery, and have to mention him and his charming otherworldly constructions again.  We left this at a fairly high resolution so you can get a better look at his people.  The little yellow umbrellas are made of dried and shellacked lemon rinds.

This vibrant piece, by Beverly Baker, at a gallery called Institute, seems to have some Kandinsky-like elements.

And this work by Marcos Bontempo, also at the Carl Hammer Gallery, has marvelous fluid lines.

Having just met artist Angela Rogers and viewed several pieces of her work just the week before at Sue Kreitzman's studio, we were excited to see her work at the show.  Loved this piece simply called "Medicine Chest".  Her juxtaposition of skulls and mummies (the original Walking Dead!) with her main characters gives an edge to her colorful paintings. In 2014, The Gallery at HAI (Healing Arts Initiative) hosted "Medicine Show" an entire site specific installation of her work.

Angela's "Carnival of the Trinity" echoes many of her themes and recurrent images.

Lindsay Gallery featured several of the robots by Donald Henry (1966 - 2009), an artist who suffered significant impairment due to a head injury and fever and spent time in a mental asylum. After his release to a group home, he began attending Visionaries and Voices, a Cincinnati art program for individuals with developmental disabilities.

We discovered arresting oil on board portraits by painter Clementine Hunter (1886-1988) at Dean Jensen Gallery. This piece, "Grandma" is circa 1960.

In the same gallery is "Kelly" by Eileen Dorfman (American, born 1945), a 2003 acrylic on canvas board.

Hirschl & Adler Modern had numerous double-sided drawings from the remarkable album by James Edward Deeds, Jr. (1908-1987), who spent nearly his entire life in Missouri's Nevada State Hospital No 3. Diagnosed a schizophrenic, Deeds was committed to the hospital in 1936, where he began to create two-sided drawings in pencil and crayon on official ledge paper. He hand-sewed 148 pages in a crude album of leather and cigar box parts that he clutched as a type of talisman until into the 1960s. In naming this drawing "Ectlectrc", Deeds encoded "ECT: into the title, with references to the electroconvulsive therapy. This drawing was the source of his pseudonyme "The Electric Pencil" until his true identity was discovered in 2011. His album was rescued from a street-side junk heap by a 14-year old boy who safeguarded it for 36 years.

We met Nancy Josephson, who created the wonderful 2013 "Honey Badger" using taxidermy form, glass beads and rhinestones for the badger and a glass vessel filled with real honey.

Josephson's 2013 "FRI-DOE" takes the genre further by creating a whimsical sconce reminiscent of a wall-mounted mouse head.

Several different galleries carried work by William Hawkins; his 1983 "Yellow Buildings, Black Arch" in Lindsay Gallery was one of our favorites and had sold at the show.

On the outside wall of Tokyo gallery Yukiko Koide Presents was a huge boro (rag) yogi (sleeper) large enough for two people to sleep in. Dated from the late 19th to early 20th century, it was made of cotton and hemp, crudely mended and patched, but with a modernist sensibility much prized by collectors.

In the same gallery is Masahiko Ohe's 2011 wonderfully cartoon-like "Ultraman Ace" of pen and pencil on paper.

Fred Giampietro Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut featured a large number of colorful works by Larry Lewis (1919-2004), several of which looked like they came out of a Monty Python animation.

Among the artists featured by Pan American Art Projects is Kongo Laroze. His glitzy untitled mixed media piece looked like a black 1950's Tiny Tears Doll in sequined headdress and costume, mired in red glitter quicksand.

The Gallery at HAI also featured Lady Shalimar Montague's "Folies Bergere"

How could we not end with this vibrant 1997 oil on linen poster by Jean Tourlonias (French, 1937-2000) titled "Speciale Jacques Titaud" featuring a canary yellow Ferrari? The notice says "La- Nouvelle-Jacques-Titaud-Coupe'-Ultra-Rapid-et-Robuste-Moteur-12-Cylindres-Ferrari".

What we're wearing:

Valerie is wearing a vintage black straw hat, black and yellow wooden earrings, mid-century metal necklace (from a thrift shop), suit with shibori highlights by Ocelot (Angelina DeAntonis) and DVF boots.

Jean is wearing an Amy Downs' gazar origami turban; black & grey striped jacket and black skirt by LUNN; Pataugus Mary Janes from A-UNO; flea market necklace with silver orbs and aluminum mid-century earrings; black and white resin disc bracelet.


  1. Thanks for another fun tour, picking out exactly what I'd like to see. As usual, you both look stunning!

  2. Craig Norton's piece is amazing, and I'm delighted by Nancy Josphson's glitzy animals. I wish we had exhibits of "Outsider" art here. Often the most moving, fantastical images come from tortured minds.

  3. I'm unable to declare a favorite, so will just have to say that your outfits are stunning!