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Then I realized there was one thing I could do and that was to love him.
June 1, 2013 8:54 PM   Subscribe

"My name is Chris Murray, and I'm an artist and I'm very talented... And I’m a dairy stocker at the Edge of the Woods organic grocery store in New Haven, Connecticut."

Chris Murray was born in 1960, after a long and difficult birth that included extended oxygen depravation, and which left Chris with cognitive disabilities that would later be diagnosed as a form of autism.

Chris Murray is the great grandson of Thomas Murray, colleague of Thomas Edison, and creator of nearly 500 patents including the safety fuse, and engineer of much of New York city’s power grid in the first half of the 20th century. Because of this, Chris Murray was born into a life of great privilege. His Grandfather, Jack Murray, was appointed by President Turman to run the Port Authority Of New York, but by the late 1970’s Jack's son, Chris’s father, Thomas, Jr. had lost it all: The real estate in South Hampton, his seat on the NYSE, their home along Central Park. All of the family’s wealth was gone. At age 52, on August 4th, 1979 Thomas Murray, Jr. walked into the ocean in South Hampton, and drowned.

Four years after the death of his father, Chris stopped making cars out of construction paper and began to draw and paint buildings; first a log cabin in Maine, then the buildings of New York and South Hampton.

Fourteen years later, another South Hampton resident, designer Gloria Vanderbilt, saw one of Chris’ paintings at the home of an old friend of Chris’ mother, Janice. Gloria later suggested to another friend, Kerry Schuss, of Manhattan’s K S Art Gallery, that he look at Chris’s work.

Kerry Schuss began to represent Chris in 1997. Chris had his first one-man show in New York in 1999. There is now great demand for his work, and it earns him quite a bit of money, so much so that it has helped to return his mother to the Manhattan neighborhood they grew up in.

A documentary about their family was made by Chris’ brother, Thomas Murray, III called Dad’s in Heaven with Nixon.

It's available in its entirety on Hulu and Netflix
posted by Toekneesan (18 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice paintings... but he is not showing at KS art any more.. maybe not for 10 years.. He does not seem to be showing anywhere in NYC.
posted by snaparapans at 9:17 PM on June 1, 2013


I was surprised I couldn't find him on the KS Art site. Do you know why? The film was made in 2010 and Kerry Schuss is in it and seems to still be representing Chris in the film.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:21 PM on June 1, 2013


BTW, I didn't want to editorialize in the description, but this is a tricky film. You need to approach it knowing it is entirely subjective, and from Thomas, III's perspective. At several points in the film, he is essentially interviewing himself. That's an odd choice for a documentary, but this is his family's story. I think he gets a little slack for that. And you can't really understand what makes Chris so extraordinary without knowing about a long and tragic family history which the film is rather blunt about.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:26 PM on June 1, 2013


Not sure.. Kerry moved the gallery to chelsea a year or two ago, from tribeca.. maybe Chris moved on, or something..
posted by snaparapans at 9:26 PM on June 1, 2013


He shows at an outsider artist gallery in CA... Just Folk
...Fast forward to present day [2010], Chris is now a 50-year-old man living a purposeful and rewarding life in New Haven, Connecticut. In the early 1980's he attended Chapel Haven, a transitional residential program serving adults with cognitive disabilities. He graduated from that program well over 25 years ago and he now lives on his own and works two jobs: one at a local hospital and the other at a health food store. During his free time, he is an accomplished artist. His paintings, mostly of buildings and landmarks from his native New York City, are in high demand by art collectors and aficionados, including Gloria Vanderbilt. Although he could easily make a living selling his artwork to the rich and famous, he prefers to work his two jobs and lead a simple life. He is happy and content, safe, living his life mostly on his own. He creates art not for fame or profit, but for the experience of the art itself...
link
posted by snaparapans at 9:42 PM on June 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thank you.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:44 PM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you like artwork like this often referred to as "outsider art" Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland CA, and Creativity Explored are great resources for seeing, supporting and collecting artists like Chris.

White Columns, a non-profit gallery in NYC has shown artists from both creativity explored, and Creative Growth.
posted by snaparapans at 10:18 PM on June 1, 2013


Outsider? Dude has close ties to the most elite and privileged people in America.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:02 PM on June 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Outsider? Dude has close ties to the most elite and privileged people in America."

Outsider Art is defined as art coming from non-traditional and/or non-"pedigreed" sources (i.e., not coming out of MFA programs or the usual galleries).

So these amazing paintings are very much in the Outsider tradition.
posted by bardic at 11:53 PM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


His autism certainly makes him an Outsider in a certain sense -- but not in the sense of not being able to afford real materials or education or even access to see "art," like the vast majority of Outsider artists. And it's helpful to be traveling in circles that increase the odds of your work catching the eye of a Vanderbilt.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:24 AM on June 2, 2013


Minor correction: It's Southampton not South Hampton.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:52 AM on June 2, 2013


And it's helpful to be traveling in circles that increase the odds of your work catching the eye of a Vanderbilt.

Helpful?

Like many outsider artists who are different, the joy of making art is an end in itself.
He creates art not for fame or profit, but for the experience of the art itself...
posted by snaparapans at 6:36 AM on June 2, 2013


Kind of reminds me of Welsey Willis' artwork
posted by cloeburner at 7:12 AM on June 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


And it's helpful to be traveling in circles that increase the odds of your work catching the eye of a Vanderbilt.

Helpful?


That was pointed understatement, friend. I'm saying what you're saying.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:30 AM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I heard that the family, is rather... um.... controlling.. which may account for why he is no longer at KS Art, the gallery that first showed and then worked with him for 15 years.. Oh, and it was through KS that GV "discovered" him.
posted by snaparapans at 3:12 PM on June 2, 2013


Interesting about Gloria Vanderbilt. In the film, she takes credit for introducing Kerry to Chris.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:57 AM on June 3, 2013


Related: Jessica Park is "a nationally recognized self-taught artist with autism." Some gorgeous work shown on the page.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:31 AM on June 3, 2013


Interesting about Gloria Vanderbilt. In the film, she takes credit for introducing Kerry to Chris.

Yes... I guess that the customer is always right.... Sad for Chris though, as he lost a great ally, friend and dealer, though no fault of his own...
posted by snaparapans at 7:42 AM on June 3, 2013


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