At her "Visionary Folk Art Garden & Doll Village"
in Holden Beach, North Carolina, Mary Paulsen has built a "bottle house"
, multiple houses for more than 6,000 dolls, and a standalone gallery
to showcase the relentlessly colorful paintings she makes on discarded window glass. No surface goes unembellished. [more inside]
Produced by Kansas City PBS affiliate KCPT, Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations
is a TV series spotlighting "outsider artists, grassroots art environments and offbeat attractions of all kinds." [more inside]
Controversial artist George W. Bush, whose paintings of dogs, cats, and portions of his own nude body
and swept the Twitterverse by storm, has opened a new one-man show of paintings, consisting of portraits of world leaders,
in a library in Texas. Though political content has not usually been a part of his work in previous years, his interest in the subject matter may stem from his brief stint in public service
a few years back.
Richard D. James is someone whose work can probably be considered outsider art. By almost anyone's standards, his work is eccentric, quirky and idiosyncratic. Its flaws (such as tape hiss and clipping) are arguably as charming as its finer points (such as whole worlds of original sounds), and its deviations from the norm are what make it so endearing, otherworldly and engaging. James seems a good subject for a case study
due to how little music theory he took for granted, and how much he built his own musical principles from scratch, which is a noble goal for anyone trying to carve their own niche in the musical ecosystem.
Out in a forgotten, dusty corner of Southern California, just east of the Salton Sea, Leonard Knight let his love and devotion to the Lord inspire a Technicolor vision on the desert floor. His creation came to be known as Salvation Mountain
. On Monday, Leonard Knight passed away at the age of 82
. [more inside]
"So a friend of mine found this box by the trash, it is full of wonderful, crazy illustrations
. Clearly something happened to this guy that was very memorable."
It may take months for this odyssey of a place to completely sink in: quirky and utterly fascinating, Tinkertown Museum contains a world of miniature carved-wood characters. The museum's late founder, Ross Ward, spent more than 40 years carving and collecting the hundreds of figures that populate this cheerfully bizarre museum, including an animated miniature Western village, a Boot Hill cemetery, and a 1940s circus exhibit. Ragtime piano music, a 40-foot sailboat (that traveled around the world for a decade), and a life-size general store are other highlights. The walls surrounding this 22-room museum have been fashioned out of more than 50,000 glass bottles pressed into cement. This homage to folk art, found art, and eccentric kitsch tends to strike a chord with people of all ages. [more inside]
is an abstract painter whose works are wild
and startlingly vivid
. There are repeated themes of flowers
and are often obsessively patriotic
. I particularly enjoy his painting of Rittenhouse
in Philadelphia, where he lives and works, and the colors of Girls Night Out
strikes me as well. [WARNING: HUGE IMAGES]
"I guess it started for me when, as a young sci-fi movie fan, I did a fanzine at age 12 to 15... that’s when I learned how relatively cheap and easy it was to self-publish, at least for a small circle of weirdos. Later, after comics went up to 50¢, I started collecting stuff equally weird but much cheaper than comic books: kook literature." - Rev. Ivan Stang
You may know of the Church of the SubGenius, that parody religion that worships the almighty "Bob" and was a fixture of MTV
and Night Flights
back in the day. But do you know of its SECRET ORIGINS? Co-founder Ivan Stang corresponded with hundreds of "mad prophets, crackpots, kooks & true visionaries," from sincere cults to winking charlatans to utter nutjobs to hate groups to independent artists and musicians, with some respected names thrown in, and synthesized them into a half-joking, half-serious celebration of the kook spirit. These days of course the forward-thinking crackpot looking for sheep goes directly to the internet. But while it lasted Stang and co-authors Mike Gunderloy, Waver Forest and Mark Johnston collaborated to document this vanished scene in the legendary book HIGH WEIRDNESS BY MAIL
. (All links within may quickly lead someplace NSFW by the nature of the beast.) [more inside]
"As the story goes, [George] Daynor was a former gold prospector who’d lost his fortune in the Wall Street crash of 1929. Hitchhiking through Alaska, he was visited by an angel who told him to make his way to New Jersey without further delay. Divine providence had dictated that Daynor was to wait out the Great Depression there, building a castle with his bare hands. Daynor had only four dollars in his pocket when he arrived in Vineland, NJ.... For years he slept in an abandoned car on the mosquito-infested property, living off a steady diet of frogs, fish and squirrels while he built his elaborate eighteen-spired, pastel-hued Palace of Depression
out of auto parts and mud. His primary objective? To encourage his downtrodden countrymen to hold onto their hope and stay resourceful, no matter what." [more inside]
"Broken Angel isn’t architecture - it’s outsider art."
A profile of Arthur Wood, whose lack of formal training did not prevent him from adding six stories of wild additions
to the two-story Brooklyn tenement building he bought for $2,000 in 1971. [more inside]
Over the past 13 years, Berlin resident Klaus Beyer
has translated the Beatles' entire oeuvre into German
, recording the translated songs in his home studio and releasing them on CDs
with titles like Gummi Seele
, Kloster strasse
and Das Gelbe Underwasserboot
, even recreating the cover artwork of the originals. [more inside]
Rocaterrania is a country located in part of what's often known as the North Country
of New York State, bordering on Canada. At least, it's there in the mind of Renaldo Kuhler, its creator, who has been imagining -- and sometimes physically creating -- the nation's politics
, and artifacts since he was a teenager on his family's ranch in Colorado just after World War II. The son of Otto Kuhler
, who designed the Hiawatha passenger trains
of the Milwaukee Road railway, Renaldo needed an escape from ranch life. He invented a nation of forward-looking Eastern European immigrants with a vibrant, distinctly un-American culture. He warns, though, "it is not a Utopia." He has drawn, painted, and been the nation's history. He created its language, Rocaterranski, and alphabet
from Yiddish and Spanish and German. Rocaterrania is a large-scale work of fiction but sometimes the way Kuhler speaks, it sounds like he believes it's really there. Kuhler now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina
and is known about town for his Rocaterranian garb. [more inside]
makes 3D animations and puts them on YouTube. They are strangely captivating
. [more inside]
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein
was born in Wisconsin on July 31, 1910. He lived in a small house in Milwaukee with his wife Marie, and he worked in a bakery. Between 1954 and 1963 he used his fingers, combs, quills and bakery tools to create hundreds of explosively colorful semi-abstract landscapes
that evoke primordial soup biology
, Lovecraftian horror
, scifi weirdness
and hellish alien beauty
('Full-Screen View' and its zoomable interface increase the pleasure dramatically). The 12 galleries
of paintings at his memorial site are all available for free hi-res download, you can hear him talking about drugs, brain chemistry and visions at the 'Listen' link, and there's currently an exhibit honoring the centennial of his birth
at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.
is a self-taught painter, whose dense, liney work reminds me of Howard Finster and Basil Wolverton.
, the street artist who adorned neighborhoods in Miami
with his vibrant, expressionistic depictions of urban life, has died at the age of 67
is an autistic young man and prolific artist using Duct Tape, Stick-On Letters, and Legos, among many materials. His work has a suprising vibrance and rhythm
. Inspiring, especially for fans of Duct Tape and Outsider Art
. Listen to an interview with his parents
here. (Hat Tip to the latest Utne Reader
He lives somewhere in LA, looks like Michael Jackson
and Barack Obama
, loves rap, chess
, nachos, movies and pizza
, has some comic books to sell
, and wants to meet white, Asian and Latina Ladies with big butts
to give him money, be his sex slaves, or just help him with Things. Performance art project or genuine kook?
Timothy Klein gets art. I mean, he really gets it. And he likes cars. So when he decided to become an artist, he covered a 1967 Chrysler Imperial Crown luxury car with yarn.
Correct, yarn. Then, Tim didn't just show his car off to the local cruzers at the Dairy Queen. No. Tim took it
at the American Visionary Art Museum
in Baltimore in 2002, where he met other famous automotive artists like Harrod Blank
and Chris Hubbard
. He took it to the Outsider Art Fair
in New York in 2003. Wherever he takes the Yarn Car, he documents the trips on his site
He got featured in Reader's Digest and "made Diane Sawyer giggle".
Tim will be in Houston on May 10 for the 2008 Art Car Parade
. Don't miss the yarn phone
in the car.
Beyond the Lanes
is a website devoted to using old bowling balls for art. Paul Livert
is an artist who likes to add metal to old bowling balls. Giant Rosaries
made of bowling balls. Bowling balls can be used to demonstrate scientific principles, as in this huge Newton’s Cradle.
Nowata, Oklahoma boasts a bowling ball fence.
Bowling balls also make useful cannon balls
, as well as durable dog toys.
I first stumbled across Leoncie
in open-mouthed disbelief about two years ago. When her website disappeared
I imagined that we'd lost her forever, but last month she returned with her own YouTube channel
While our unfiltered, unmoderated internet has pushed a lot of "outsider art" into the mainstream, Leoncie has remained firmly stuck in obscurity; maybe these gobsmackingly low-rent videos will change that? Until today, I'd only been able to imagine the full glory of songs like Radio Rapist
, or the beguiling Man! Let's Have Fun
, or indeed the frankly exhausting Invisible Girl
. But Sex Crazy Cop
and Killer In The Park
, with their carnivalesque spin on the grim world of law enforcement, are probably my favourites. Astonishing.
is a flickr set of art found stuffed inside books by the account holder at the jail where they are a volunteer running the book cart.
became one of the most famous British illustrators of the late Victorian and Edwardian era after trying to cheer up his wife Emily by drawing portraits of their pet cat, Peter
. In addition to publishing a popular children's book about kittens
, he was a founder
of the U.K's National Cat Club
who was instrumental in promoting the Cat Fancy
movement, which encouraged Britons of all classes to view cats as lovable pets instead of household pests. Unfortunately, after Wain's wife Emily died of breast cancer, Wain gradually went mad due to psychosis
and late onset schizophrenia
, ending up in London's notorious Bethlehem Hospital
(the etymological origin for the word bedlam
). While at Bedlam, Wain continued to draw, but his cat portraits transformed into pure geometric abstraction
and psychedelic fractals
, but some see harbingers of madness in cryptically titled works, such as Early Indian Irish
and The Fire of the Mind Agitates the Atmosphere
. For more insight on Wain, check out this 1896 interview
and this short film
dramatizing the progression of Wain's schizophrenia through his art.
Alexander Pavlovich Lobanov
was a Russian deaf-mute confined to psychiatric institutions for over 50 years
. He liked to draw pictures
. Lots of guns
Flickr user gandibacardi
really likes women's cardigans. So much that he takes pictures of himself wearing cardigans and puts heads of models over his own face. He then writes (presumably) fictional mini-stories in the captions. He also likes to talk about cardigans
. Sometimes he posts links to his pictures asking people what they think of his pictures
he gets answers
, but most often not.
One of pop music's trailblazers was tone-deaf.
Even if you've never heard of Joe Meek
), you've probably heard
his 1962 single "Telstar"
many times. This online compilation offers an exciting glimpse into Meek's unconventional
way of composing, as he recorded and rerecorded in an attempt to communicate the music in his mind to musicians. Hear "Telstar"
in various levels
Outsider art is exposed
for what it is: beguiling and incredibly enticing. Henry Darger
continues to capture new fans and his frighteningly gorgeous mindscapes continue to sell for thousands of dollars.
"I found myself hastening past great Dubuffets, and lingering in front of vast ugly works produced by people who, to be honest, didn’t know how to draw…"
(first link NSFW)
The Great Stalacpipe Organ.
This unique, one-of-a-kind instrument
was invented in 1954 by Mr. Leland W. Sprinkle of Springfield, Virginia, a mathematician and electronic scientist at the Pentagon. He began his monumental 3 year project by searching the vast chambers of the caverns
selecting stalactites to precisely match a musical scale. Electronic mallets were wired throughout the caverns and connected to a large four-manual console. When a key is depressed, a tone occurs as the rubber-tipped plunger strikes the stalactite tuned to concert pitch. (scroll down for mp3)
The Original Rhinestone Cowboy.
"I was laying on my bedside just as lonesome as I could be. I was by myself and so lonesome the tears just come in my eyes. I was so lonesome I prayed and said: 'Lord, give me something to make me happy' Now, you won't believe this, but the Lord told me to make an outfit. I went downtown and bought me a suit and became Rhinestone, and I ain't had one moment of lonesomeness since."
Take a back-road south of Palmyra, Tennessee, and you'll stumble across the remains of E. T. Wickham's concrete statues
, worn by time and broken by vandals. Since being documented online by chroniclers of outsider art
, they've found a new set of admirers. A 2001 photography exhibit
showed off their former glory; family members now hope to preserve what's left. To learn something of their creator, read the personal tribute
by Wickham's grandson.
[banner ad may be NSFW]
sure is fun, isn't it? Pointing out
again some of the worst examples of what the the fandom has to offer seems to be an activity almost as old as the Internet. In the rush to
point and laugh
, though, it's easy to miss entirely
of the more
of what the culture's emphasis on art and imagination has wrought upon the world. And even if you aren't impressed by the
, someone is --
, one of the largest Furry conventions in the world, has had for two years running an art show bringing in over $60,000
each year, with portions of the convention's proceeds going to organizations such as the
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Coyote Point Museum
, and the
Singer Wesley Willis was an artist as well.
I'm not generally a big fan of "outsider art," as this might be called, but as raw as these pictures may be, they have a quality to them I don't think I've seen before. Enjoy.
of future-primitive/outsider art. "...An innovative vision of art: simple, non-academic, emotional, on a human scale."
: the amazing work of Richard Wawro.
Southern Folk-Art, Outsider Art & Self-Taught Art
• Ginger Young of Chapel Hill, NC who runs this eponymously named art studio, says: "Despite their lack of formal training, these artists have tapped into a powerful wellspring of creativity to render their worlds with passion, pathos, and immediacy." Truly beautiful
stuff. How could you go wrong with artists named Tubby Brown, Minnie Adkins, Mose Tolliver and Woodie Long? On another note: is this school of thought/art, which comes in and out of vogue every few years, as pure as it seems, or is there an air of exploitation and corniness that comes with fetishizing The Other?
Ladies & Gentlemen, George Vlosich
, the world's greatest
etch-a-sketch artist. I'm nervous that I've seen this on Mefi before, but search came up blank...
serial killer art
I was doing some research on the Rockefeller Laws
when I came across this little pet project.
Florida Folk Art.
'Welcome to my online Outsider Art Gallery. I collect outsider art, also known as Folk
Art or Visionary Art ... '
More folk art :-
Rare Visions and Roadside
, a Kansas City Public TV project about the art and oddities
of roadside America;
the Yard Dog Folk Art Gallery
('folk art of the South'), a nice site
from Texas; the Garde Rail Gallery
Four Florida Folk Artists
). Not quite folk art but an interesting idea nonetheless :-
the Miniature Book Library
, an ongoing mail art project (which invites participants).