Posts Tagged ‘outsider art’

Showing the Way

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Jerry Saltz credits Andrew Castrucci, SVACE faculty member, as a guardian angel of outsider genius Melvin Way.  Read Jerry’s words in Vulture:

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“We owe his being discovered at all, saved, and brought to public light to the capable artist Andrew Castrucci, who discovered Way in 1989, when he was conducting art workshops in Keener Men’s Shelter, a hospital-cum-prison for the mentally ill on Wards Island. Seeing genius immediately, Castrucci devoted himself to Way — working with him, helping him in and out of institutions while the artist would sometimes disappear for long stretches, going on benders, turning up in emergency rooms or drug rehabs, other times arriving at Castrucci’s door with as many as 200 or 300 rumpled new drawings. Castrucci introduced Way to tidal charts, hermetic diagrams, medieval cosmographies, navigation maps, and Post-Impressionism, another art made up of an infinite number of marks. He introduced him to da Vinci’s notebooks and backwards writing, which Way claims to have decoded and interpreted. And Castrucci has always passed earnings from sales onto Way.”

We mentioned Melvin Way and Andrew Castrucci in a recent SVACE blog post, too.

Baby, It’s Warm Outside

Friday, January 30th, 2015

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.

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An Insider at Outsider Art Fair

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.

Grandma Moses, "The Last Load of Wood" at Galerie St. Etienne, NYC

Grandma Moses, “The Last Load of Wood” at Galerie St. Etienne, NYC

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.

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David Fierman of Louis B. James Gallery with Bruce A. Davenport drawings

 

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Great installation at 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!”

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Sculpture by Jerry the Marble Faun at Jackie Klempay Gallery

 

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Sculpture by Jerry the Marble Faun at Jackie Klempay Gallery

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.

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Drawing by Melvin Way in “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day” curated by Jay Gorney and Anne Doran

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Drawing by Melvin Way in “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day” curated by Jay Gorney and Anne Doran

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.

Hybrid States

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Andrew Edlin Gallery features two simultaneous shows, or two related shows, or a show with a prologue.  However you parse PURPLE STATES and Cafe Dancer Pop Up, remember to consider the source.  Sam Gordon, the curator, has explored in his own art the slippery space between art objects and their surroundings.  So it follows that his curated projects would have similarly porous boundaries.

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Sam Gordon, “Cafe Dancer (Collage), No. 2”, 2014

That is, his tromp l’oeil paintings, exhibited at Feature in 2012, dissolved hierarchies between painting materials, such paint and canvas, and personal artifacts, like clothing remnants, studio sweepings, hair, and used matches.  Likewise, these shows at Edlin stitch themselves to each other and carry along the social artifacts supporting them. Moreover, these shows take on the “insider-outsider” binary, employing it to reconsider each category and to synthesize hybrid results.

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Gone Fishin’ at Edlin Gallery

The “insider” part comes from Cafe Dancer Pop Up, for which Sam Gordon collaborates with artists/dancers Jessie Gold and Elizabeth Hart.  Together, they dress up the gallery’s reception area into a Cafe Dancer “satellite” titled Gone Fishin’, which is inspired by Gold’s and Hart’s real-life Cafe Dancer at 96 Orchard Street, a reliable site for performances and exhibitions, and a partner of the NADA art fair.  (See?  Deep inside.)  Works by artists from the Cafe Dancer scene line the long corridor of the gallery, especially artists with significant exposure that includes solo shows, art fairs, and/or residencies.  Some exceptions are Arley Marks and Monique Mouton, artists whose work I haven’t seen, but will follow.

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PURPLE STATES at Andrew Edlin Gallery

The “outsider” part is PURPLE STATES. A serigraph print by Sister Corita Kent literally points visitors “One Way” from the corridor to the main gallery space, where new and older art fuel each other.  Dense zoning and bold layering open up the breadth and potency of individual works.  We see how insider art often shares phylogenetic traits with outsider art, each occasionally passing as the other, and how insider art might be excused of the obsessive and pathological myths of outsider art.  Lest we forget.  Otherwise, a viewer can at least appreciate being steeped among art made by skilled artists who engage with their work through materials just as much as through concept.

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Paul Chan and Henry Darger

Paul Chan’s crisp matrix of girls with penises pairs up with super-outsider Henry Darger’s Flamingo Abbieannian Girlscouts and reminds us that well-established artists like Chan can be indebted to (and just as freaky as) outsiders like Darger, for whom girls weren’t always female.  Elisabeth Kley’s ceramic cage alone would strike me as complex and crafty, but Howard Finster’s apocalypse diorama turns it into a cage or disaster-bound vessel, while her ink filigree scroll maps out as spiraling missiles or black flowers from heaven.  Tenuous landscape unites Brian Adam Douglas’ A Quietus with the hallucinatory facescape watercolor by Agatha Wojciechowsky.

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A cosmic target icon made of thread and paint by Tony Cox accompanies a provocative naturalist motif by Forrest Bess, a “visionary” (which means “outsider”) recently resurrected for the 2012 Whitney Biennial, who earned six shows with Betty Parsons Gallery, the leading AbEx gallery, a historical fact that “demonstrates the extent to which this outsider was also very much an insider.”  Next to it, the guitar-shaped icon by Guo Fengyi reminds me of Bess’ self-administered genital modification, the documents of which he unsuccessfully attempted to exhibit alongside his paintings at Betty Parsons.

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Josh Blackwell’s embroidered plastic bags reanimate remnants, a meaningful process especially next to a pistachio shell painting by Lucky De Bellevue, who is also in the Dancer show, and who pairs well with Thornton Dial.  And the Morton Bartlett bare-legged doll photos, combined with Gina Beavers’ sculptural hand paintings, could spawn a new show about animism (or spanking).  Almost everything in this show is worth mentioning, and the connections are as fluid as observation allows.  But the mystic launch happens in a symmetrical shrine ensemble that includes Brion Gysin, Steve DiBenedetto, Emery Blagdon, Richard Tuttle, an anonymous artist’s Tantric paintings, and drawings from the Korwa people of Uttar Pradesh.  In this corner of the show, automatic writing, ritual, and asceticism join forces with itinerancy and travel – of the body, mind, and soul.