From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]borderstan.com.
Museums, galleries and critics across the country are showcasing works by outsider artists, pulling the movement out of obscurity and into the mainstream.
Outsider art is art created by people without formal training who don’t consider themselves professionals and who operate outside the realm of the art world establishment.
It encompasses work by the mentally ill or the developmentally disabled and is often inspired by an artist’s own fantasy world or personal memories, but also by pop culture, religion and local subcultures. Outsider artists often use unconventional materials and found objects.
Now in its 21st year, the most recent annual “Outsider Art Fair” in New York received an “unprecedented amount of press coverage” and record-breaking attendance. The Philadelphia Museum of Art opened its “Great and Mighty Things” exhibit of outsider art earlier this month.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s recent acquisition of works by Mingering Mike should dispel any doubts that outsider art has found a place in the contemporary art historical canon. A recent Washington Post article details how the museum came to acquire the works, and gives as much information as possible on the person behind the Mingering Mike moniker.
Outsider art also features prominently in many spring museum exhibits and gallery openings here in DC.
“Mumbo Sauce,” curated by Lauren Gentile of Contemporary Wing and Bethesda native Roger Gastman, opens April 5 at an as yet undisclosed location. Gastman also curated the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s popular “Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s” exhibit that features graffiti art by Cool “Disco” Dan, among others, posters, and ephemera from the 1980s DC musical sub-cultures. “Mumbo Sauce,” created “in response to” the Corcoran exhibit, includes pieces by Mingering Mike, Cool “Disco” Dan, BORF and others.
Art Enables, a non-profit that supports local artists with disabilities and that works to foster a wider appreciation of contemporary folk art, opened the “Glitterbomb” exhibit in its Off-Rhode Gallery on March 3. (Click here to view a slideshow of photos works from “Glitterbomb” on the Huffington Post.) All of the works in the exhibit come from Art Enable board member Paul Yandura’s personal collection. Programming for the exhibit includes a Gliteratti Party on Saturday, March 23, and a Collector’s Talk with Yandura on Wednesday, March 27.
The English-language term outsider art can be traced back to the concept of l’art brut. Jean Dubufett, one of three artists featured in “Angels, Demons, and Savages” at The Phillips Collection, was the first to use the term art brut and amassed a large collection of art brut works during his lifetime. A talk at The Phillips on March 28 will explore Dubuffet’s relation to art brut and its influence on his work.
- “Pump Me Up” at Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th Street NW, runs through April 7.
- “Glitterbomb” at Off-Rhode Gallery, 2204 Rhode Island Avenue NE, runs through March 29.
- “Mumbo Sauce” opens April 5 at an as yet undisclosed location.
This year was a successful year in the DC art world, but just as, if not more successful for the artists of our beloved Borderstan. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights and looking forward, places/people that we hope will repeat their success in 2013!
Contemporary Wing started this year off with bang and officially opened their 14th Street location. BRAVO! They opened the year with the Next Generation show, a collection of work by artists chosen by those artists that participated in the 30 Americans show at the Corcoran. It was an incredible first show for the gallery that took over the Irvine Contemporary space in the prime Logan Circle Location.
As we have previously reported, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty shook up the gallery scene by bringing art to the walls of their 14th Street office space. In 2012 the realty experts showcased three emerging artists; Joel D’Orazio, Blair Sutton and now featuring Mark Parascandola. They will continue to show artwork in the year to come and hope to engage the local community through art.
As in year’s past, the 17th Street Festival was full of some of the area’s most eager and talented artists. In addition to the live music, talent and the pet and kid zones, artists were once again given the chance to show their work in a fun and fresh way. Many local artists consider the festival a great opportunity to sell their affordable work. In its third year, the festival featured over 50 different artists, which we hope will continue to grow in the year to come.
Our favorite group of local artists that either live and/or work in Borderstan is the Mid City Artists. This year they hosted two very successful studio tours, giving the community an opportunity to travel to and browse the work of these incredible artists in their working space. The studios of these artists span the Borderstan region but it is well worth the walk. In addition to getting the opportunity to speak to these talented creatives, you never know what kind of hidden gems can be found in their studios.
“Call Collect” at Hamiltonian was a smashing success giving 100 artists a three week-long exhibition opportunity. Participating artists were pulled from throughout DC’s four corners and featured those chosen by the Hamiltonian’s most esteemed fellows. The show was capped off with the Call Collect Benefit, which auctioned off the work in the show, with the twist that you were allowed to select your work in the order in which you purchased your ticket. So creative (and successful)!
Last but certainly not least, Transformer was able to end their year with their annual live auction and benefit party. The event, hosted at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, was a great accomplishment with over 160 artists participating and a party that was not to be missed. The true STAR of the show was performance artist, Armando López-Bircann, who shined brighter than any diamond in the room!
I certainly thank and applaud our Borderstan community for giving us so much to look at and experience in the last year. Here is to an even more successful and art filled 2013 ahead!