Monthly Archives: October 2011

from Barretts gift #outsiderart to Harvard Art Museums

Harvard Art Museums Receive Gift of Outsider Art from Didi and David Barrett

CAMBRIDGE , Massachusetts — 24 October 2011 click here to see original post on
Bill Traylor, Mule and Plow, c.  1939–42.  Poster paint and ink on cardboard.  Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Collection of Didi and David Barrett ‘71, 2011.64.  Photo: Harvard Art Museums, © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Bill Traylor, Mule and Plow, c. 1939–42. Poster paint and ink on cardboard. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Collection of Didi and David Barrett ‘71, 2011.64. Photo: Harvard Art Museums, © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Howard Finster, If A House Be Divided against Itself That House Cannot Stand, c.  1978.  Enamel on Masonite.  Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Collection of Didi and David Barrett ‘71, 2011.48.  Photo: Harvard Art Museums, © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College.

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Howard Finster, If A House Be Divided against Itself That House Cannot Stand, c. 1978. Enamel on Masonite. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Collection of Didi and David Barrett ‘71, 2011.48. Photo: Harvard Art Museums, © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Felipe Jesus Consalvos, Grins and Chuckles, c.  1920–50s.  Collage.  Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Collection of Didi and David Barrett ‘71, 2011.43.  Photo: Harvard Art Museums, © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College.

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Felipe Jesus Consalvos, Grins and Chuckles, c. 1920–50s. Collage. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Collection of Didi and David Barrett ‘71, 2011.43. Photo: Harvard Art Museums, © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College.

The Harvard Art Museums announce a gift of 38 drawings, paintings, and sculpture from Didi and David Barrett’s 20th-century American Collection of Self-Taught, Folk, and Outsider Art. The gift comprises works by 24 American “outsider” artists, mostly from the 1930s through the 1990s. Among the notable figures represented in the collection are Bill Traylor, Joseph Yoakum, and Nellie Mae Rowe, whose work first came to public attention in the important Corcoran Gallery of Art exhibition Black Folk Art in America, 1930–1980. In addition, the Barretts’ gift includes three rare “ledger book drawings” made by members of the Plains Indian tribes in the late 19th century.

“We are grateful to Didi and David Barrett for their generous gift,” said Thomas W. Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums. “These ‘outsider’ works take our holdings of American contemporary art in an exciting new direction, providing a unique opportunity for study and appreciation by students, scholars, and visitors.”

Didi and David Barrett (Harvard ’71) have been involved with self-taught art for nearly three decades. Didi, a writer and consultant in the not-for-profit sector, is a trustee emerita of the American Folk Art Museum and has written on self-taught art. David Barrett is a lawyer with the firm of Boies Schiller & Flexner in New York. Their son, Alec Barrett, graduated from Harvard in 2011.

“Didi and I are especially pleased to be making this gift to the Harvard Art Museums and glad that the museums are recognizing these profoundly creative artists and their powerful expressions of the American spirit,” said David Barrett. “The university is an ideal venue for exploring this interdisciplinary material, not only in art-historical terms, but also in terms of history, cultural anthropology, sociology, and even psychology.”

“Working with David and Didi Barrett has been both a great pleasure and a wonderful learning experience,” said Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., Consultative Curator of American Art at the Harvard Art Museums. “The objects in the Barrett collection are inspirational and come at a pivotal time when our faculty and students have been asking for works of this genre.”

The Barretts’ gift includes Bill Traylor’s Mule and Plow (c. 1939–42), drawn with poster paint and ink on cardboard. Thornton Dial Sr.’s Talk Show (1990s) and Life Begins with Crawling (1992) are two of the largest paintings in the collection. Talk Show (1990s), an image of Oprah Winfrey, makes use of wire screen, lids from paint cans, and industrial sealing compound to fashion a rich, three-dimensional painterly surface that recalls abstract expressionist works.

The Barretts are also giving three paintings by Howard Finster, including If A House Be Divided against Itself That House Cannot Stand (c. 1978). Finster was a Baptist minister from Summerville, Georgia, who took up art after he had a vision that inspired him. Three works by Felipe Jesus Consalvos, a Cuban-born artist, are part of the gift. Grins and Chuckles (c. 1920–50) portrays George Washington with a zeppelin under his arm, surrounded by an array of cut-out figures from American history.

The three Native American ledger book drawings depict various subjects, including a battle, buffalo hunting, and a group of Kiowa warriors in their formal dress. Ledger art evolved from the Plains Indians’ tradition of painting and decorating the buffalo hides they wore. Between 1865 and 1900, when Native Americans were placed in confinement by the United States government, Plains artists began painting and drawing on paper and cloth. Often the paper they drew on was discarded from lined account books, or ledgers.

#outsiderart under discussion in The Economist with James Brett

Outsider art

How important is intent in art?  from

Oct 24th 2011, 10:13 by E.H. | LONDON

JAMES BRETT, the founder and curator of “The Museum of Everything”, believes his two new shows are “the most important in Britain”. This might seem like a bold claim, particularly as one exhibition is tucked in the basement of Selfridge’s department store in central London, while another takes place in the artfully dilapidated Old Selfridge’s Hotel next door. Yet both the big show and the smaller retrospective of work by Judith Scott, a self-taught American artist who died in 2005 at 61, are indeed interesting, not least for Mr Brett’s enthusiasm for them.

Mr Brett began The Museum of Everything in 2010, “by accident more than anything else,” he says. After travelling round the American south and becoming taken by the Folk Art there (“unpretentious, immediate, and kind of cool”), he felt inspired to create his own curatorial enterprise showcasing “outsider art” without using the term. The result is “a museum that’s not a museum,” he says, which he markets with a distinctive brand of British eccentricity (sea-side red-and-white striped entrances, English-rose girls on the door). This mix of novelty and savvy has been an effective way to introduce the work of mostly unknown artists to a wider public.

By placing his latest show in a department store, Mr Brett says he is staging a “friendly attack on mainstream art criticism and curators”. It was a deliberate move to place Scott’s work in “such a visible place as Selfridge’s”, given her own relative invisibility. Self-taught artists such as Scott, who was also born deaf, mute and with Down syndrome, don’t get the recognition they deserve from the art establishment, says Mr Brett. The recent closure of the Folk Art Museum in New York seems to confirm his point. 

However, the works featured in The Museum of Everything can be a tough sell. The issue is not necessarily with aesthetics. Many of these pieces are more appealing than, say, Tracey Emin’s controversial “My Bed” from 1998. But unlike Ms Emin, these artists can rarely articulate the intent behind their art. These works are “very intentional, but not necessarily intended as art,” Mr Brett concedes.

Scott’s work is indeed both sculpture and something else. Her fiber pieces are wonderfully colourful and vibrant, intricate and massive, painstakingly made and yet seemingly spontaneous. Still, these objects only become meaningful when viewers know a little something about how they came to be. Scott made them from objects found at the Creative Growth Art Centre in California, which serves adult artists with disabilities. It took her time to find a medium she felt comfortable with, but once she began working with fiber she began making epic works with found objects. For her, these pieces were works of “communication, after 30-40 years of isolation,” says Mr Brett.

Many will argue that context should not be necessary to appreciate a work of art. I would normally agree, and yet I found it almost compulsory to understand Scott’s story in order to fully appreciate her work. Mr Brett is quick to nip in the bud any resulting existential questions about the nature of art: “You don’t have to like it,” he says, “but it’s art”.

The Museum of Everything’s retrospective of Judith Scott’s work can be seen at Selfridge’s in London until November 6th. See also “London’s new Museum of Everything” from More Intelligent Life

#outsiderartfair exhibitor Outsider Folk Art Gallery launches newly redone website

check out to see the comprehensive online inventory in a newly streamlined format!  Current exhibition “Interface” runs through Dec. 2, then “Raw Edges,” a two person exhibit showcases work by Purvis Young and Jim Bloom- the title referring to the found materials used by each painter, will be on view into 2012.  PROMO RAW EDGES 12.2.2011

@IFPDAdotORG a peek at #PrintFair (Park Ave Armory, NYC 11/3-6) exhibitor Osborne Samuel Gallery in London

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Here’s a peek of Osborne Samuel’s elegant booth at the Pavilion of Art & Design London Fair that opened yesterday in Berkeley Square.  We can’t wait to see what they have in store for the IFPDA Print Fair in New York- Unique among the world’s major art fairs for its focus on fine prints from all periods. This year’s Fair will feature 90 dealers, all members of the International Fine Print Dealers Association, and is located at The Park Avenue Armory 643 Park Avenue at 67th St.
New York, NY 10065.

2011 Fair Times:

PREVIEW 11/02 6:30 – 9 pm
THURSDAY 11/03 12 – 8 pm
FRIDAY 11/04 12 – 8 pm
SATURDAY 11/05 12 – 8 pm
SUNDAY 11/06 12 – 6 pm

#outsiderartfair Question: What is the only general museum in North America with a full-time curator of self-taught art?

Answer:  The High Museum in Atlanta, GA ( The High is dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only general museum in North America to have a full-time curator devoted to folk and self-taught art. The nucleus of the folk art collection is the T. Marshall Hahn Collection, donated in 1996, and Judith Alexander’s gift of 130 works by Atlanta artist Nellie Mae Rowe. Other artists the High has collected in depth in this field include the Reverend Howard Finster, Bill Traylor, Thornton Dial, Ulysses Davis, Sam Doyle, William Hawkins, Mattie Lou O’Kelley, and Louis Monza. The collection of almost 800 objects also boasts superb examples by renowned artists from beyond the South, such as Henry Darger, Martín Ramírez, and Joseph Yoakum.
Mark your calendar for the greatly anticipated Bill Traylor exhibition coming to The High in February 2012:
Bill Traylor, Untitled, ca. 1939–1942.
Poster paint and pencil on cardboard. 11¾ x 7¾ inches,
High Museum of Art, Purchase with funds from Mrs. Lindsey Hopkins, Jr.,
Edith G. and Philip A. Rhodes, and the Members Guild, 1982.93

Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collection of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

February 5, 2012 – May 13, 2012

This exhibition will include approximately 63 drawings and paintings by self-taught Alabama artist Bill Traylor. Traylor began making art near the end of his life, and his works are notable for their flat, simply defined shapes and vibrant compositions in which memories and observations relating to African American life are merged. Traylor is recognized as one of the finest American artists of the 20th century.

Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery.

National Endowment for the Arts

This exhibition is supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment.

#outsiderart Howard Finster fans rally for donations to save “Paradise Gardens”, the artist’s famous GA environment

Admirers of Howard Finster will be pleased to learn that, at long last, restoration and
permanent care of Paradise Garden ( may be on the horizon. Chattanooga County has secured a state grant to buy the Garden from the Alabama
non-profit group that has held, maintained, and stabilized it over the
past several years. The county, which is the poorest in Georgia, wishes
to make it a (respectful) county park to honor their most famous native
son and generate desperately needed tourism dollars. This is almost
certainly the last, best chance to save one of the most famous built
environments in the U.S.*

The grant is for $145,000 (or thereabouts). But to receive the grant
money, the county must secure $43,000 in matching funds by the end of
2011. With only three months to go, fundraising efforts have just begun; they have already raised over $20,000.

If you would like to help save the Garden, make out your check out to Chattooga County Chamber Foundation/Paradise Garden Project

Send it to

Paradise Garden Project
c/o Studio Jewelers
78 Public Sq. N.
Dahlonega, GA 30533

You may e-mail Thomas Scanlin with any questions at:

#outsiderartfair art from Creative Growth Art Center featured in Jackson Square by McGuire, San Francisco, New York

Outsider Art Fair Exhibitor Creative Growth Art, Oakland, CA ( is an inspiration for the “Jackson Square” collection of San Francisco based McGuire Furniture Company.  (  The Jackson Square collection is on view at the McGuire Showroom at the New York Design Center.

#outsiderartfair An Art Book – Groundwaters: A Century of Art by Self-Taught and Outsider Artists

An Art Book – Groundwaters: A Century of Art by Self-Taught and Outsider Artists.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 6 – 8 p.m.


Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Margaret Liebman Berger Forum (Map and directions)
Fully accessible to wheelchairs
How to register: First come, first served

FREE – Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

More than 100 years of unschooled artistic genius is gathered in Groundwaters: A Century of Art by Self-Taught and Outsider Artists a wide-ranging survey book that  delights and informs Outsider Art’s rapidly growing audience. Art historian and curator Valérie Rousseau, a fellow expert in the field joins professor and author Charles Russell discussing the Outsider Art movement and sharing a diverse selection of images from many artists included in the book.

Visionary art, art brut, art of the insane, naïve art, vernacular art, “raw vision”—what do all these and many other categories describe? An art made outside the boundaries of official culture, first recognized more than a century ago by German psychiatrists who appreciated the profound artistic expression in the work of institutionalized patients. Promoted by brilliant museum curators Alfred Barr and artist Jean Dubuffet, such work became a wellspring of modern and contemporary art. Groundwaters brings together works by twelve of the most influential self-taught artists to emerge during the past century. Each represents a facet of the outsider art phenomenon, from mental patients Adolf Wölfli and Martín Ramírez, through vernacular masters Bill Traylor and Thornton Dial, to artists who seem to be in touch with other worlds, such as Madge Gill and Henry Darger. Related artists are featured along with each key figure, allowing a fuller picture to emerge. This book presents a narrative of the history of outsider art, clarifies predominant theoretical issues, and draws comparisons with the modernist tradition. It brings into focus the enormous contributions self-taught artists have made to our understanding of creative genius and presents them in a book that enthralls anyone interested in Outsider Art.

Copies of the Groundwaters: A Century of Art by Self-Taught and Outsider Artists are available for purchase and signing at the event.

Henry DargerHenry Darger

Charles Russell is Professor Emeritus of English and American Studies at Rutgers University, Newark, where he directed the graduate program in American Studies and was Associate Director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience. Among his several books are The Avant-Garde Today (University of Illinois Press, 1981),Poets, Prophets, and Revolutionaries: The Literary Avant-Garde from Rimbaud through Postmodernism (Oxford University Press, 1985), Self-Taught Art: The Culture and Aesthetics of American Vernacular Art (University Press of Mississippi, 2001), and, co-edited with Carol Crown, Sacred and Profane: Personal Voice and Vision in Southern Self-Taught Art, (University Press of Mississippi, 2007).

Art historian and independent curator, Valérie Rousseau is specialized in art brut, folk art and other outsider and marginal practices. Currently a publications director at the Andrew Edlin Gallery (New York) and a former director of the Société des arts indisciplinés (Montreal), she has been involved in several studies, symposia, publications (Culture & Musées; Vestiges de l’indiscipline: Environnements d’art et anarchitectures) and exhibitions (Collectors of SkiesHenry DargerRichard GreavesBill AnhangChassé-Croisé) in Canada, the USA and Europe in the fields of art, museum studies, heritage and anthropology. She is an affiliated researcher with the Laboratory of Anthropology and History of the Cultural Institution (LAHIC, Paris). Holding a Master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology (EHESS, Paris) and a Master’s degree in Art Theory (UQAM), she is currently completing a Ph.D. in Art History.

In its third season the program series An Art Book, initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni, is a celebration of the essential importance and beauty of art books. The events showcase book presentations and discussions by world renowned artists, critics, curators, historians and writers.

Emily Christensen: Producing a different kind of art show, too

A round of applause is in order for our very own Emily Christensen. A reception will be held tomorrow for “Collision Cross Section,” an exhibition of contemporary art she curated at The GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, the largest non-profit arts center of its kind in the country.  The show has been in planning for over a year, and Christensen travelled back and forth from New York to Reading, PA since starting with us at SLS&Associates in June.

From GoogleWorks:

Collision Cross Section, a contemporary exhibition, features works created by eight artists from Greater Reading, nearby urban areas including New York City and Pittsburgh, and international cities.

The Cohen Gallery, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, has been reconfigured to showcase works by KT Tierney (North Braddock, PA), Maya Kramer (Shanghai, China), Myriam Mechita (Berlin, New York) Bill Abdale (Brooklyn, NY) Michael Berube (New York, NY) Kristen Egan (Kempton, PA) Petros Pappalas (New York, NY), and Brent Collins (Reading, PA) in eight distinct installations.

The title explores GoggleWorks as a vital place for the dynamic exchange of new art while touching upon the idea of public arts center, and art in general, as catalysts for positive change in a struggling economy, with an emphasis on the connection of the artist to community.

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