It’s impossible in the limited space we have here to say something about all of the art and all of the artists we show. But there’s much to learn from our artists, the lives they lead and what they say about their art. Here’s a small sample.
Lewis Smith, for example, was a complete recluse. He was an Ohio farmer who lived alone in the middle of the woods. In 1973, a tax assessor, found Smith and his property. There was Smith surrounded by almost 2,000 drawings of women, and diners, and trains.
Michael Ulick saw an ad in the Newtown Bee showing a drawing of what looked Betty Boop. After calling the number, he met Marty Birnbaum who represented the work of Lewis Smith. Together, they partnered a show of some of the best of this work at the Church Street Art Gallery. His erotic depiction of women has an innocence all its own. Smith’s muscular and gaudy zany ladies, drawn in athletic poses, reveal the fresh viewpoint of a very talented outsider artist.
Paul Graubard’s career in art came after earlier careers in education and psychology. Following the untimely death of his daughter, he traveled and studied in India and re-connected with elements of folklore and the Judaism of his childhood. When asked if he’s an Outsider Artist, Paul responded: “Outside of what? I see myself as more of a visionary artist. I get pictures in my head and I paint them. I don’t use models and I hardly know how to mix colors. I’m basically self-taught so I do the best I can to put my vision onto canvas or wood.
“I like stories so I try to tell a story with each painting. I have a lot more enthusiasm than knowledge and I work hard at my paintings – I do feel compelled to tell my stories.”
Harvey R. Peterson lives in Belfast, Maine. “These folk art figures grow out of my fascination with various forms of antique folk art where the figure plays a central role. Whether they be whirligigs, figureheads, advertising pieces, weather vanes, limberjacks or primitive sculpture, I’m interested in the variety of handling, materials, and expressions I find. In addition, I am interested in self-taught, primitive, raw, and outsider art and though my formal training precludes my designation as such, I do try to access that part of my creative being to bring my figures to life.”
W. “Tubby” Block retired after 50 years as a railroad brakeman, then took up wood carving as a hobby. It seems his barn was already stacked full with Bible story dioramas he had made for his sister’s grandchildren. His carved characters possess both humor and strong narrative qualities. Eventually Block lost interest in his self-taught carving and returned to his love of the railroad and watching the freights roll by. Luckily, six pieces remain of his Biblical dioramas.
R. A. Miller Reverend R. A. Miller of Gainesville, Georgia is the creator of “Blow Oskar” – a big ol’ boy, reminiscent of Uncle Sam, who blows his car horn every time he goes past. His whirligigs and tin cut-outs include his versions of animals and devils.
Miller, who died recently in 2006, was a former truck driver who turned to making things as his eyesight failed.