The art of Kevin Blythe Sampson

THE ART OF
KEVIN BLYTHE SAMPSON

2/15/11

A Painted Menagerie at the Outsider Art Fair :: Etsy Blog

A Painted Menagerie at the Outsider Art Fair

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As I entered the maze of gallery exhibits at 7 West, dodging gesticulating walking sticks and a slew of Iris Apfel lookalikes, I was immediately seduced by fluttering cereal box tapestries and blunt paintings. The Sanford and Smith Outsider Art Fair, now in its 19th year, is the premier venue to take in both new and established talents from the world of untrained artists. The variety of work is astounding, covering a range of mediums and styles. Drab recycled skateboards easily coexist with hewn butcher whirligigs hacking at a leg of lamb, cardboard sculptures of Corvettes and bedazzling rugs made from scraps. Big names, like the fantastical Henry Darger and Bill Traylor, exist alongside contemporary makers such as Japanese felt artist Junko Yamamoto, who creates charming abstract objects in the likeness of broccoli, bandages and cheese.

What's most notable is the range of individual stories behind the works, though they're often painful to contemplate — tales of orphaning, mental illness, poverty and imprisonment. This urge to express oneself, whether from some manic compulsion or merely the need to create utilitarian beauty at home, is a brutal necessity native to any artistic temperament. The rush of raw voices, devoid of self-referential pandering and immune to the art industry's pressures, is a refreshing alternative to the traditional hierarchy of the art industry. Self-expression is a powerful tool.

Take in a menagerie of honest beauty and meet some of the artists this weekend, February 11-13, 2011, at the Outsider Art Fair in New York.

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What defines outsider art in your eyes?

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A Painted Menagerie at the Outsider Art Fair :: Etsy Blog