Tuesday, October 28, 2008

American Indian Dolls

Do you love dolls, even though you're completely grown up? The doll on the left is a Jingle Wacipi doll created for me by my friend Suzan Ablaya of Germany. The doll is wearing the ceremonial dress of a Jingle Dancer. When the dancer moves the sound harkens to gentle rain falling, and the dancer brings honor to her family.
The middle doll was found at the Brimfield Antique Show and was created by the couple who made all the American Indian artifacts for the film "Dances With Wolves". Her dress is an exact replica of the dresses decorated with shells, which are still worn in ceremonies today.
The third dress, covered with a beautifully beaded upside down American Flag on the shoulders, is a replica of an antique dress which I fell in love with and had Suzan interpret in this doll. Her methods of doll making are exactly to the specifications of the antique dresses. She uses the same type of treated leather, shell, beads, and buffalo, human, and horse hair. Her stitching is superb and each doll is a masterpiece.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Art Brut? Outsider Art? or just Art

Pedro Martin DeClet created several Portraits de Genocide, depicting martyrs of ethnic backgrounds, including Hispanic and American Indian. The first piece in the series was created while DeClet was serving a term in prison. Its finish was floor wax, made possible by a supportive staff member. The rest of the series has been created as a free man. I chose this large version (about 5 ft. tall) to show you, as it's Pedro at his best. More of his work, is available at my gallery, and eventually will make it to the web site

Pedro also compulsively re-examines the self-portrait. The outer guise changes from devil to angel, warrior to clarion. His physical scars are always apparent; the psychological scars remain hidden below layers of paint and wax. The repeated retelling begs for a witness; the validation of a witness helps to ameliorate the pain. His prison years and his involvement with the Latin Kings are far behind him, only occasionally resurfacing as fodder for his art.

Pedro is exquisitely aware of the art world, and the poetry and prose of the most renowned authors and wordsmiths; however, his work is not at all derivative. It is purely his own vision, his own pain. He dares you not to turn away, and he demands that you see his powerful images barely contained within the context of the paper. His use of color is seductive, giving the eye a resting place before revisiting the image in its entirety. Although completely self-taught, his frequent use of both Latin and Spanish text within his work gives it a unique sophistication. His self-portraits reveal him as he is--sweet, moody, confrontational, scarred, and hopeful.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

AOL makes me cry!

A few days ago I received the first (AOL claims it was the second) e-mail from them stating that as of October 31st they were crashing all web sites built on their hometown pages. That means me.....all 400 hundred images, text and articles I've posted over the years relating to Art Brut and Outsider Art. I picked myself up off the floor and contacted someone who is trying to reconstruct them as we speak. Being a perfectionist, I'm freaking out. Should any of you visit the site in the next few weeks, please be assured that it will look more cohesive as time goes on.
Solely to make myself feel better I'm posting an ancient photo of my Mom and me on the beach in Hyannisport when I was small and the world felt safe! I'm the chubby one in my Mother's lap.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Outsider artist, up from the street

Many years ago, my son and I visited a street fair in Georgetown, DC. Although all the artists showing their work were either fine artists or craftspeople, I always keep my eye open for the untrained outsider artist who might make a space for themselves at the fringes of a show. We were in luck, as Matt Sesow and his then girl friend were arranging Matt's paintings against the facade of a building. To see Matt Sesow's paintings is to share in a bit of his reality. A landing airplane hit and severed his left arm at the age of eight, forcing him to become right handed. The physical and emotional pain of the trauma has left a clear mark on Matt's work. In 1994, at the age of 28, he began painting. His titles, such as "Painting by Remembers", "Lost Luggage", "Alone in Death", and "Sucker Punch", are more than subtle hints of the turmoil he has experienced. He views painting as a way to communicate his emotions and experiences in an immediate and powerful manner. He talks of "punching" the paint on his surface, and the turbulence it creates grabs at the viewer, never quite letting go. Blood red backgrounds, angry and averted orange eyes, heavily outlined figures not able to stay within the confines of the canvas, are hallmarks of his style. I represented him for the next 5 years before he decided to go out on his own. Many of his earlier works are in my collection and this painting called "Almsman" (30" x 40"), a particularly strong example of his work, has come on the market again. More of his paintings can be seen at http://www.artbrut.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Outsider Art Panos

These Panos were created by Chicano prisoners on 15" square cotton handkerchiefs purchased in the comassary of the Texas institutions where they were serving their time. Many are tokens of love for Mothers, girlfriends, children, and/or gang members left on the outside.  The two examples here were meant for fellow gang members, and the gang iconography and prison symbols are evident.  Pieces made for children often have cartoon references and for Mothers, the Virgin Mary is a predominant theme. The panos represent the spirit of the prisoners and are hung on walls awaiting the return of their creators. When the men are released, the panos are taken down and in the past they often were discarded. Nowadays, they are collected by agents and dealers and are finding their way into folk art collections all over the world.