On Saturday, May 26th the Church Street Art Gallery presents an exhibit devoted to American Folk Art, a rich and often-misunderstood art form. We’ll be presenting a fascinating and exciting assemblage of some of the best examples of Folk Art. It’s an exhibit whose breadth reaches beyond the ubiquitous weathervanes one expects to see.

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Over the last century, experts and passionate collectors of Folk Art have made great strides in separating the ordinary from the extraordinary, creating standards for what seems on the surface to be naive and untrained. Folk artists are largely self-trained, and always have set out on a personal and unique path to express themselves. Their work is often considered â€primitiveness€ in execution and technique. But the works on display at the Church Street Art Gallery make the point that these artists share a rare gift of being able to communicate excitingly and vividly the passions and obsessions that caused them to create art in the first place.

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It’s always exciting to see how ingenious these artists are in their use of everyday objects and in their unique styles of painting. One of the most familiar examples in the 20th century are the paintings of Grandma Moses. With her deceptively simple use of space and subject matter she created storytelling moments of her life in pastoral New England.

Works by artists who are becoming recognized as outstanding talents are often commanding the kind of prices only the best works of traditional art once commanded. A small painted folk art carving of a heart and hand, sold at auction in 2003 for $79,500. Probably the most famous of all American folk paintings, The Peaceable Kingdom was painted in multiples by the Pennsylvania Quaker Edward Hicks. The last of the 65 versions, done in 1849 for his daughter just before his death, was sold in at Christies this year for $6,176,000, setting an auction record for American Folk Art and for Hicks.

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Likewise, Folk Art is now represented in the collections of virtually every major art museum. And museums that are dedicated to the preservation and display of Folk Art are commonplace as well. A sampling of those museums is the American Folk Art Museum in New York, the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg VA, the Craft and Folk Art Museum in LA and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego.

This worthwhile exhibit at the Church Street Art Gallery opens Saturday, May 26th in conjunction with the Lenox Art Walk and will be on view that day from 10-7 with a reception beginning at 4 and then during regular gallery hours Mon-Thu 11-2:30 and Fri-Sun 11-4:30.

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The exhibit features paintings, weathervanes, whirligigs, found objects and other fine examples of Folk Art. The Church Street Art Gallery is owned by Michael and Denise Ulick, passionate collectors of Folk Art for decades. The Gallery has been exhibiting Self-Taught, Outsider and Folk Art in the Berkshires since 2003.