The OUTSIDEr Artists that I want INSIDE My Home and Collection - Outsider Art Fair 2020
Jan 18, 2020
Each year I look forward to two art fairs above all others. SPRING/BREAK Art Show and the Outsider Art Fair. Both fairs expose the public to not only artists, movements, mediums that they have never seen or heard before, but also they are the two fairs where I possibly find an original work to add to my growing art collection and are able to support unrepresented, living (potentially) artists and smaller galleries and dealers.
The larger fairs may have the flash and tons of cash, but it is at the Outsider Art Fair where I find heart, history, and stories of times and people that I want to support, to make sure their legacy is not forgotten and appreciated.
When I first pitched this article I thought I would be able to write a “Top 5 Booths To See” or “The Artists to Discover OAF 2020” type of piece. But once walking through the doors at the Metropolitan Pavilion, I realized how silly of a notion that is.
Why? Because every booth at the OAF brings artists and works that are beautiful, unique, underappreciated, and important. How could I choose? When every gallerist is passionate, and each artist has story they are telling through their work that is worth hearing?
The value of art, monetary or otherwise, is always subjective. The Outsider Art Fair shows the subjective of the Art world and how it values certain works and artists, in its rawest form. The Wikipedia definition of Outsider Art “is art by self-taught or naïve art makers. Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. In many cases, their work is discovered only after their deaths.”
This artwork, these artists, are only appreciated in the art world once someone has taken the time to find the artist, see their work recognize the talent and value, and decide to love it, put in their collection. Unlike a Picasso where you can point to the endless exhibitions he has been in, an every growing list of public collections, academic writing dating back decades praising his work, and auction records to explain or ‘justify’ the high prices of his works, creations by Outsider Artists do not have that (generally).
Over the years more Outsider Artists have been ‘discovered’ by the fine art world, elevating their prices and reaching wider audiences, such as Henry Darger and Adolf Wölfli, with major museum exhibitions and record breaking auction prices. Galleries have been created that focus on Outsider Artists, such as Andrew Edlin Gallery, that focus on artists that have died but also living. Joe Coleman, whose hyper detailed paintings combined with his fascination with the strange and macabre, with the help of the gallery now is known even outside of the art world and has his own cult following. But for the most part many Outsider Artists are well, ‘out’ of the art world. And the value that a work has, truly is only proven when someone purchases it and acquires it for their collection.
Art may be subjective, but Outsider Art DEFINITELY is. A work or artist that I find fascinating and whose skill I admire, you might find average or might not even consider the work a piece of art!
And that is what makes Outsider Art so exciting, and the Outsider Art Fair, almost like a sophisticated flea market. You have to look and dig, but when you do you sometimes find a work that touches your soul, and even change your world view.
So with that being said, there are many artworks at the 2020 OAF that inspired me, that I wanted to purchase, and artists that I am excited to learn more about. I will note that in no particular order, these area few of the artists/booths that stood out to ME this year (in no particular order and any bias stated).
Gaby Yamamoto/Espacio, New York (Booth B5)
The works by Judá Ben-Hur are bright and colorful, made on raffia bags and synthetic blankets. Walking by they basically yell at you, grabbing your focus. Bambi and the other characters/figures that Judá Ben-Hur has depicted have that perfect hint of kitsch and nostalgia that together creates something fresh and new.
Norman Brosterman, New York (Booth C15)
I discovered Salandra’s work recently through the dealer Steven S. Powers (Booth D6) and over the last few weeks Sal and I have become Instagram friends, mutually admiring each other’s artwork (yes, I too am a textile artist). I was looking forward to seeing his work in person and he did not disappoint. His works focus on homoerotic desires, fantasies, oozing with sex and sexuality is fresh and fun. His work is definitely not the needlepoint your grandma used to make, and thank goodness.
FIERMAN, New York (Booth A9)
I have seen Dietmar Busse’s work before, at the moment I cannot recall wear, but regardless it was seeing FIERMAN’s solo booth presentation of his works that stopped me in my tracks.
Busse is a German born, New York based photographer, that has a unique approach to photography, using different acrylic photographic inks and darkroom processes to alter his images. His slightly eerie and mysterious images challenge the way I look at, and understand, the medium of photography in that delicious way where you wonder is this photography? Or something completely different and new?
Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris (Booth B9)
I was struck by the horses heads that are painted by Marcos Bontempo that are presented in Galerie Anne de Villepoix main booth walls, but it was the work by Yveline Tropéa that I was taken by. Her beading and embroidery skills are stellar and her subject matter is fantastical to say the least. The details in her work, some so subtle you may miss, make her work something that I could look at and enjoy for years.
Creativity Explored, San Francisco (Booth C2)
Each year I look forward to seeing which artists Creativity Explored will bring. Every artist I personally love because I had the privilege of being able to volunteer there once a week for three years during college at San Francisco State University. Each artist has their own style, quirks, and preferences and Creativity Explored Booth this year shows each of these artists beautifully. From their mission statement: Creativity Explored exists to provide people with developmental disabilities the opportunity to express themselves through the creation of art. Additionally, we provide studio artists the opportunity to earn income from the sale of their artwork and to pursue a livelihood as a visual artist to the fullest extent possible.
As a lover of queer art of course I was drawn to John Patrick McKenzie wall of work, with the recognizable Félix González-Torres poster used as McKenzie canvas in Sodiums, Liquors, Cigarettes (2010). Yet, I can never resist the work of Camille Holvoet, whose signature is having the women she depicts be cross-eyed. (I have to say I indulged and was able to purchase, even with my tiny budget, the green-eye that is on view).
LAND Gallery, New York (Booth C3)
LAND Gallery is another favorite of mine, similar to Creativity Explored and its Oakland sister, Creative Growth, LAND “is a unique nonprofit day habilitation program that teaches life skills through the modality of art. LAND (League Artists Natural Design) was founded in 2005 by the League Education and Treatment Center (LETC) and serves as both studio and gallery for 16 adult artists with developmental disabilities.” Walking in the booth I discovered a small shelf displaying the whimsical nesting dolls by by Michael Pellew, each depicting a different celebrity or important figure. I couldn't help but imagine how cute my desk at work or one of many shelves at home would like with one of icons on it.
American Primitive/Aame Anton, New York (Booth B4)
American Primitive/Aame Anton is your classical Outsider Art gallery, a mixture of works by unknown artists, as well as works where the artist will most likely remain a mystery for all time. I enjoyed the works by Daniel Martin Diaz, a mixture of a scientific diagram and analysis type of drawing depicted with a slightly erotic flavor.
Outsider Art Fair, New York
January 16-19, 2020
125 W. 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
Thursday, January 16: Early Access (by invitations): 2 - 6 PM | Vernissage: 6 - 9 PM
Friday, January 17: 11 AM - 8 PM
Saturday, January 18: 11 AM - 8 PM
Sunday, January 19: 11 AM - 6 PM