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Outsider Art Fair Succeeds At Mainstreaming Quirky Art
Grey Carter — Objects of Art, McLean, Va., offered Jack Savitsky's "Devil,” 1965, measuring 24 by 30 inches.
Broadly encompassing a range of genres from classic Southern folk art to art brut, the fair surveys those artists operating outside of a traditional art education, but their works are no less appreciated than those by their formally trained counterparts.
The well-known "Outsider" artists featured here nearly overshadow the number of unknown artists. Seeing the works of Martin Ramirez, Henry Darger, Purvis Young, Clementine Hunter, Fred Traylor and other icons of Outsider art, one understands that Outsider art has truly arrived.
Arriving at the fair on the 11th floor at 7W, one of the first booths one comes to is that of Ron Jagger, New York City, who offered an untitled tall figure of a man made of cement and clothed in broken glass bangles by Nek Chand, circa 1965, as well as Chand's "Little man with basket on back," a mosaic sculpture. Equally eye-catching was Timothy Wehrle's "Harvesting and Cultivating Poison," 2006, a graphite colored pencil/newsprint work.
Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York City, showed a vibrant sculptural work by Kevin Blythe Sampson that featured brightly painted seashells, a miniature skeleton and animal figures topped with a cross finial. A whole side wall was devoted to Japanese art brut.
Prominently displayed at Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago, was a tall African American barbershop chest of drawers from an unknown artist in West Virginia, circa 1940–50, that measured 49½ by 26 by 13 inches, as well as a whimsical if disturbing, gender-bending work by Henry Darger.
An obsessively complex and colorful paper sculpture shadowbox by Haint (Allen Wayne Bradley) was on view at Rising Fawn Folk Art, Lookout Mountain, Tenn. The shadowboxes take from one month to eight months to complete.
A colorful standout at Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York City, was William Hawkins's "WH 286, State Capitol, Albany no. 2," circa 1986, an enamel on Masonite. The dealers were busy writing tickets during the opening preview for Charles Dellschau's untitled (Wednesday, Nov. 5, 1919) mixed media on paper, Hiroyuki Doi's "H0307 Untitled" ink on washi, circa 2007, and Martin Ramirez's untitled (White Face Caballero), from 1948–52, as well as a frontispiece of the booth, Judith Scott's large fiber sculpture, 1992, that measured 20 by 40 by 25½ inches.
In keeping with the fair's theme where a selection of artworks were being sold to benefit Doctors Without Borders as part of its Haitian relief effort, Worthington Gallery, Chicago, offered several Haitian works, including the late George Liautard's "Malevolent Loa with Wings," a 1970 copper work.
Other Haitian artists featured here included Hector Hyppolite's 1947 oil on canvas, "Lamersi (Loa)," and a large oil on board by VKJ Almonor, titled "Roi Henry Christh, fetant son Aniversaire (The Dance for Birthday King Henry Christophe)."
Drawings by Martin Ramirez were shown at Ron Jagger Fine Art, New York City.
Highlights at Gilley's Gallery, Baton Rouge, La., included several works by Clementine Hunter, including the oil on canvas board "Ginning and Hauling Cotton"; a textile, "Melrose Quilt," along with "Wake," a circa 1980 oil painting, and "Harvesting Gourds at Melrose."
Making a statement at Marion Harris, New York City, was a haunting grouping of ten large back and white photographs by Morton Bartlett of his now-famous dolls that he fashioned by hand and photographed. Harris is credited with discovering a cache of the artist's work in 1993, which she first showed at the Outsider Art Fair in 1995, according to a New York Times article.
Galerie Bonheur, St Louis, offered several works by Bahamian artist Amos Ferguson, including "Boys With Donkey & Poodle" and "Drug Bust." During preview, Ferguson's large-scale work "Paradise is Lost" was sold.
Grey Carter — Objects of Art, McLean, Va., featured a found metal sculpture by Charlie Lucas titled "Locking Up the Mouth" and a pair of mixed media works by J.J. Cromer: "The Piano Left to Seed" and "Light and Leading."
Carter had grouped in a corner an attractive quartet of Jack Savitsky oils on board: "Breaker Boy," "I Dream of a Woman in a Tree," "Savitsky the Clown" and "Coal Miner Jack," all circa 1970s. His larger oil on Masonite work, "Devil," 1965, at 24 by 30 inches, was pure eye candy though.
Alison Silva paintings on view at Oolof Art Gallery, The Netherlands.
Henry Boxer Gallery, London, featured George Widener's considerable "Counter 79," an ink and poster paint work done on paper napkins in 2009 as a focus of its back wall. Works selling during preview included Widener's "I Was Born" and his "Megalopolis 67," along with Daniel Martin Diaz's oil on wood "Autumn Queen."
Rising Fawn Folk Art, Lookout Mountain, Tenn., sold a wood carving of a mermaid. Booth highlights included a tree root sculpture by Bessie Harvey (1929–1994) and a colorful and intricate paper sculpture shadowbox by east Tennessee artist Haint (Allen Wayne Bradley).
Berenberg Gallery, Arlington, Mass., featured a wall of Jennifer Harrison's paintings of houses crowded together for which the artist is known, along with several detailed ballpoint pen and marker on paper works by Moroccan-born artist Abdellah RamRam that contemplate spirituality amid a multitude of layered imagery.
Wasserwerk.Galerie Lange, Siegburg, Germany, sold Alexandra Huber's "treasure box," a mixed media work from 2008, while Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York City, sold Charles Steffen's "Standing Nude," a pencil on brown wrapping paper work from 1992.
Galerie Bourbon-Lally, Petion-Ville, Haiti, offered an ink on paper by Australian Damian Michaels (b 1969) titled "The Time Draws Near," as well as a hand sewn beadwork by Antoine Oleyant (Haiti, 1955–2002), "L'Amiral," 1996.
The Pardee Collection, Iowa City, Iowa
Outsider Folk Art Gallery, Reading, Penn., featured several works by Purvis Young, including a house paint on pressed paper board work depicting several figures, measuring 44 by 30 inches, that sold early in the show. In its select and sparse booth, focusing on just a few artists, the gallerists also offered Thornton Dial's work in relief, "The County," 1995.
Rounding out the offerings at the fair were Clarence Swinyer's wood and enamel "Black Duck," circa 1950, offered at Maxwell Projects, New York City; Purvis Young's "Parade" work in marker, ink and watercolor on found paper at Dean Jensen Gallery, Milwaukee, Wis., and William Hawkins's enamel on Masonite, "The Old Hannah Neil Mission Building, Columbus Ohio (Currently the Ohio Arts Council Building)," at Keny Galleries, Columbus, Ohio.
Sanford Smith's next show will be the New York Antiquarian Book Fair April 9–11. The Outsider Art Fair will return next February. For information, 212-777-5218 or www.sanfordsmith.com .
Folk Art Museum Presents Award To Sanford Smith
Sandy Smith is shown with his award. The Folk Art Museum has been a beneficiary of more than 40 of Smith's arts and antiques shows over the years.
A Brooklyn native, the veteran show promoter has a rich and storied background in the art world and is a longtime friend to the museum. In his 30 years of producing art and antiques shows, more than 40 Sanford Smith shows have designated the museum as a beneficiary.
"My relationship with the museum goes back to the days when it was the Museum of American Folk Art. Many of the people who I started with still work there: Susan Flamm, Stacy Hollander, Lee Cogan, Anne-Marie Reilly and Marie DiManno," he said.
Smith also used his acceptance speech to laud the efforts of Robert Bishop, the museum's former director, whom he called a "a true visionary."
Past recipients of the Visionary award included gallerist Phyllis Kind in 2008 and in 2009, Raw Vision magazine and John Maizels.
For museum information, www.folkartmuseum.org or 212-265-1040. For information on Sanford L. Smith & Associates, www.sanfordsmith.com or 212-777-5218.