The Outsider Art Fair is now open New York City. Featuring works by self-taught artists from around the world, the fair will showcase 50 international galleries from 27 cities, representing eight countries. Founded in 1993, the fair attracted a passionate collecting community each year at New York’s Puck Building. In 2012, dealer Andrew Edlin and his Wide Open Arts took ownership of the fair and relocated it to the former home of the Dia Art Foundation in Chelsea – the same site as the Independent.
The 23rd edition of the Outsider Art Fair in New York brings together veteran galleries presenting legendary artists like Henry Darger, Bill Traylor, Adolf Wölfli, James Castle, and Martín Ramírez, among others. The fair also welcomes first-time exhibitors, such as Arte del Pueblo, with Haitian works from the collection of Jonathan Demme, and Kent Fine Art, offering paintings by visionary artist Paul Laffoley.
These galleries are joined by younger, contemporary art galleries with some outsider artists on their rosters. Lower East Side dealer Louis B. James features drawings by New Orleans artist Bruce Davenport Jr., who has a solo show up now at that gallery. Bushwick’s Jackie Klempay offers limestone sculptures by Jerry the Marble Faun (the youthful gardener at Grey Gardens). Also representing Brooklyn is Scott Ogden’s Shrine.
Jackie Klempay: “I became involved with the Outsider Art Fair initially because of curator Sam Gordon. He curated Purple States/Cafe Dancer at Andrew Edlin Gallery this past summer and included some of the artists I work with – Mary Manning, Frank Haines, Robbie McDonald, and Corinne Jones. We were discussing my upcoming exhibitions and I mentioned Jerry the Marble Faun was the next exhibition. [The Fair] is attempting to inject some energy into the fair by inviting younger galleries to participate. They invited us to put together a project booth, so here we are!”
Along with Jerry the Marble Faun, another highlight of the Fair is Melvin Way, represented by two clusters of dense drawings that look like crypto-HTML coding and proto-chemical equations underlying a reality of intuitive interconnectedness. Find those at the Healing Arts Initiative (HAI) booth, and in If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day, a special group exhibition curated by dealer Jay Gorney and artist Anne Doran. This show features works by five artists whose art responds, in part, to their paranoia: Melvin Way (b. 1954), Emery Blagdon (1907–1986), Adolf Wölfli (1864–1930), Mark Lombardi (1951–2000), and the Philadelphia Wireman (20th century). Melvin Way has experienced a long journey from oblivion to a place where his incredible art can be preserved, and I learned that we can credit much of that to SVACE instructor Andrew Castrucci.
What a relief to see art up close without the burden of branding and the gloss of luxury. If New York Times writer Carol Vogel was right about art fair fatigue, then this show offers a way out. See more pics on our Instagram page.