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Currently on view at White Columns, New York’s oldest alternative gallery space, is HEALING ARTS!, a selection of over 100 works from the archives of Healing Arts Initiative. Founded in 1970, the Healing Arts Initiative — aka Hospital Audiences Inc./H.A.I. — provided opportunities for “the culturally underserved in the New York City community” to actively engage with the arts.

Until its permanent closure in 2016, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, H.I.A. supported a community of mostly self-taught artists, many living with disabilities, for close to five decades. Instrumental in helping preserve H.I.A.’s decades-long archive of art produced under its auspices, White Columns is now introducing it to a larger audience.

The image featured above was created by the late Julius Caesar Bustamante, a member of the Arawak/Caribe Indian nation, who began drawing in 2000 at age 43 following a diagnosis of post traumatic stress syndrome. Several more images on exhibit through November 2 follow:

 The late Rocco Fama, noted for his colorful drawings of imagined skyscrapers

The prolific Roger Jones, now active with Fountain House Gallery

The late Brooklyn-native Derrick Alexis Coard who struggled with schizo-affective disorder and was best-known for his drawings of bearded African-American men

Caribbean artist Adeyinka Perry

Wide view of small segment of installation featuring (top to bottom): Mercedes Jamison, Roger Jones, Julius Caesar Bustamante and Donna Caesar

Located at 91 Horatio Street in the West Village/Meatpacking District, White Columns is open Tue – Sat, 11AM –6 PM.

Research for this post: City-as-School interns Angelize Santiago and Sage Ironwood; photos by Angelize SantiagoSage Ironwood and Lois Stavsky

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Organized in collaboration with Ricco/Maresca, an exhibition of paintings by the celebrated African-American artist William Hawkins is on view at Demisch Danant, a distinctive gallery space that specializes in twentieth century  French design. Titled Jazz, the exhibition highlights the “unexpected syncopation and rhythms” shared by 1950’s French designers and the self-taught artist William Hawkins .

Born in 1895 in Kentucky, Hawkins began making art in the 1930’s, experimenting with house paint on found wood. But he didn’t exhibit his work until he was 87, after a local artist, Lee Garrett, discovered his paintings while visiting Hawkins’ Ohio home. William Hawkins has since attained global recognition for his authentic, expressive aesthetic.

The work featured above, Interior with Arched Windows, was fashioned with enamel on Masonite in 1989, just one year before the artist’s death. Several more images of Hawkins’ works on display at Demisch Danant follow:

State Capitol, Albany #2, 1986, Enamel on Masonite

Old Town Square #3, 1987, Enamel on Masonite

Cathedral, 1988, Enamel and collage on Masonite

Arched Park with Nationwide #3, 1989

WHAT’S IT WORTH?, 1987, Enamel on Masonite

150 Arch Park with Nationwide, 1986, Enamel on Masonite

Jazz continues through October 19 at Demisch Danant. Located at 30 W 12th Street in the Village, Demisch Danant is open Monday – Friday from 10AM to 6PM and on Saturday from 12PM – 5PM.

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

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Currently on view at the American Folk Art Museum is “Memory Palaces: Inside the Collection of Audrey B. Heckler,” a wonderfully eclectic selection of works in a variety of media by over 80 outsider or self-taught artists from across the globe. The image featured above was fashioned by Felipe Jesus Consalvos, a Cuban-American artist who largely worked as a cigar-roller. After his death in 1960, over 750 collages on a range of unconventional surfaces — from found photographs to musical instruments — were discovered.

What follows are several more images from this rich, tantalizing exhibition — that we plan to revisit several more times before it closes on January 26, 2020:

Italian artist Carlo Zinelli, Untitled, Gouache paint. While hospiralized with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, the late artist created almost two-thousand works with paints and colored pencils between 1957 and 1974.

Italian artist Giovanni Battista Podestå, Untitled, Paint on ceramic, mirror, glitter and cardboard. Born into a peasant family in Northern Italy in 1895, Podestà’s artworks often expressed his distate for the materialism of post-war Italian culture.

Swiss painter Christine Sefolosha, Birthgiving, Oil on canvas. Born in Montreux, Switzerland in 1955, the artist’s distinct aesthetic was largely influenced by the years she spent living as a white woman in apartheid South Africa.

French duo Alfred and Corrine Marié aka ACM, Untitled, Pieces of typewriters, alarm clocks, transistor radios and electronic parts — with cables and glue. An art school dropout, Alfred Marié, along with his partner Corrine, creates whimsical assemblages that evolve into complex architectural objects.

Southern preacher and artist Howard Finster, The Devil’s Vice…,Paint on board. Known for his visionary art and passionate sermons, the Reverend Howard Finster created thousands of spiritually-inspired paintings. along with remarkable environmental sculptures, until his death in 2001.

Ethiopian artist Gedewon Makonnen, Untitled, Tempera on paper. Trained as a cleric in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Gedewon was also a healer, who created strikingly elegant talismanic art.

Located at 2 Lincoln Square (Columbus Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets), the American Folk Art Museum is open Tuesday–Thursday: 11:30 am–7:00 pm; Friday: 12:00–7:30 pm; Saturday: 11:30 am–7:00 pm and Sunday, 12:00–6:00 pm. Admission is always free.

Research for this post: City-as-School intern Angelize Santiago 

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 7 Angelize Santiago; 3 – 6 Lois Stavsky

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The following guest post is by City-as-School intern Angelize Santiago

On view through October 23 at Fountain House Gallery is Heavy Sauce, a group exhibition featuring a diverse range of artworks by seven artists. Curated by Gerasimos Floratos, a local artist who has been attending Fountain House Gallery exhibits since his teens, Heavy Sauce presents several unique perceptions of our city — some created with acrylics and others with fabrics, collages and varied media. The image featured above, Times Square Day, was painted by Gary Peabody.  A few more images of featured artworks follow:

Maybellene Gonzalez, Artist’s Quote, 2019, Acrylic on canvas

Alyson Vega, The Five Boroughs, 2019, Acrylic, wool felt, collage on canvas

Issa Ibrahim, Mad City, 2017, Acrylic and oil on canvas

Aracelis Rivera, The Tree, 2019, Mixed media and found objects on wood

Founded in 2000, Fountain House Gallery showcases the works of artists living with emotional challenges, providing them with opportunities to share their creative expressions with others. Located at 702 Ninth Avenue at 48th Street, Fountain House Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday: 11am-7pm and Sunday: 1-5pm

Photos of images:

1, 2 & 4 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 5 City-as-School intern Angelize Santiago

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I first came upon Roger Jones’s infectious aesthetic while visiting the group exhibit The Flâneur at Fountain House Gallery this past July. I then met the artist at Fountain House Gallery Open Studios in Long Island City, where I had the opportunity to speak to him.

When did you first start drawing?

As a kid, I was always scribbling and doodling. But when I was around 20, I began to become serious about art.

What inspired you at the time?

I started noticing the artists around West 42nd Street drawing portraits. I used to stop and watch them.

What were your subjects when you began drawing?

I began with portraits — mostly of women.

What inspires you these days? 

The programs at Fountain House and some of the other spaces I’ve been involved with.  And visiting museums is a great source of inspiration.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Picasso, Jackson Pollack and Van Gogh are some my favorites.  And I love the Congolese sculptor and painter Bodys Isek Kingelez., whose work I discovered at MoMA.

What about cultural influences?

African culture, Black culture and American culture, in general.

How has your art evolved since you first began to take it seriously?

I went from drawing portraits to focusing on faces. And these days I work with lots of repurposed materials, including coins and stamps that folks share with me.

How long do you usually spend on a piece?

Anywhere from two hours to two days.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

As much as I can. Most of it.  I’d say about eight hours a day.

What are some other activities that interest you?

I love going to the beach and spending time in Coney Island.

I discovered your work at the Fountain House Gallery. Have you exhibited elsewhere?

Yes. I’ve shown my work at several places including the ACE Hotel and Henry Street Settlement.

What are your favorite work settings?

I like working here at Fountain House Gallery studio in Long Island City and over at Community Access at 621 Water Street on the Lower East Side, where I grew up.

What media do you prefer to work with?

Acrylic, markers and sharpies. I also love to work with found materials.

What is the main source of your income?  

Cleaning buildings and other assorted tasks. I also sell my art. On weekends you can often find me at 14th Street and 1st Avenue.

How has your family responded to your artwork?

My girlfriend loves it.

Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m self-taught.

Where are you headed?

I’d like to get my work out there.  And I also want to teach art to others. I’d like to help people learn how to express themselves.

That sounds great! And I’m looking forward to seeing more of your artwork.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos of artworks and of artist, Lois Stavsky

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On view through September 2 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South, celebrating the recent acquisition of 24 works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Featuring a captivating range of quilts, found object sculptures and paintings, it is a testament to the skills, inventiveness and resourcefulness of these 20th century southeastern African-American artists.

The quilt featured above, Blocks, Strips, Strings and Half Squares, was fashioned from discarded fabrics in 2005 by Mary Lee Bendolph, a prominent member of the Alabama-based Gee’s Bend Collective. Several more artworks I captured on my recent visit to the exhibition follow:

The late Thornton Dial, The Last Day of Martin Luther King,1992, Mixed media

The late Delia Bennett, Housetop: Fractured Medallion Variation Quilt, c. 1955, cotton, rayon and synthetic

The late Magalene Wilson, One Patch Quilt, c.1950, Cotton, wool, synthetic, corduroy and seersucker

The late Hawkins Bolden, Untitled, c. 1985, Mixed media

The late Annie E. PetwayFlying Geese Variation Quilt, c. 1935, Pieced cotton and wool

Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South can be viewed through September 2 in the Perelman Building — at the intersection of Pennsylvania and Fairmount Avenues — a short walk from the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s main building. For hours and directions, check here.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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On view through September 1 at the American Folk Art Museum in Lincoln Square is a wonderfully eclectic range of quilts gifted in 2018 to the museum by Werner and Karen Gundersheimer. Curated by Stacy C. Hollander, the exhibition showcases quilts collected by the couple over decades as they combed eastern Pennsylvania, the Midwest and the South in search of striking textiles..Featured above is Spider Web Quilt, fashioned with cotton in the 1920’s by an unidentified artist. Several more images from WALL POWER! follow — all by unidentified artists.

Jacob’s Ladder Variation Quilt, United States, 1930s, cotton

Pyramid Quilt, Pennsylvania, c.1910, silks and wools

Crazy Quilt, US, Late 19th century, Silks and velvets with embroidery

Friendship Album Quilt,, US, Early 20th century, Cotton

Located at 2 Lincoln Square (Columbus Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets), the museum is open Tuesday–Thursday: 11:30 am–7:00 pm; Friday: 12:00–7:30 pm; Saturday: 11:30 am–7:00 pm and Sunday, 12:00–6:00 pm. Admission is always free.

Photos of quilts by Lois Stavsky

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Always showcasing a wonderfully eclectic range of art in a variety of media, the rotating exhibitions at the Renate Albertsen-Marton Gallery in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, intrigue and delight. The mixed-media image featured above was fashioned with recycled elements by the self-taught Nigerian artist Samson Akinnire.  Several more images seen on opening night of Intrinisic follow:

Also by self-taught multidisciplinary Nigerian artist Samson Akinnire

Yonkers-based multidisciplinary artist Michael Cuomo, Mask, Repurposed sculpture

Brooklyn-based Ben Tyree, “Star Gazer,” Acrylic on canvas

Queens native Domingo Carrasco (left) with Samson Akinnire to his right — above photos by Brooklyn-based Austrian native Ida Kreutzer

Domingo CarrascoSamson Akinnire and Brooklyn-based fiber artist A. Holly Sphar (left to right)

The exhibit continues through September 27 at the RAM  Gallery — housed within The aRt Cafe & Bar, 884-886 Pacific Street in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Note: Also featured in Intrinsic — but not represented here — is Liberia-born, Brooklyn-based Trokon Nagbe.

Photo credits: 1-3, 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 4 courtesy of the artist

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I first met Nazir Hedgepeth several weeks ago while I was walking along Broadway in Bushwick. He was sitting alongside several artworks that he had recently fashioned on a range of repurposed surfaces. I was at once intrigued by their raw outsider aesthetic. We more recently met up on the Lower East Side, where I had the opportunity to find out a bit about him.

When did you first begin to draw?  And what did you draw at the time?

I was seven or eight when I started drawing cartoons. I spent a lot of time watching Looney Toons on TV, and so I was always I drawing those Looney Tunes characters with crayons and pencils.

Did you share your art with anyone back then?

I remember sharing a drawing of me buttering toast. I liked it so much that I showed it to everyone.

Have you any other early art-related memories that stand out?

When I was nine years old, I broke my left hand while wrestling. While I was in Harlem Hospital, I met a painter who introduced me to sketching. He told me that I should paint or draw what I feel. I remember that vividly.

What inspires you these days to create art?

What I hear on the news and what’s happening around me. Just living!

Who are some of your favorite artists? Artists who inspire you?

Francis Bacon, Basquiat, Danny Antonucci

What about cultural influences? What are some of your cultural influences?

Skateboarding, 90’s films, Spike Lee and Instagram.

How has your art evolved within the past decade or so? 

Ten years ago, it was an expression of my sadness…my depression. It no longer always is. 

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Never!

What percentage of your time is devoted to art? 

All of it! Even when I’m skating and playing video games, I think about art.

Have you ever exhibited your work?  

Not in any kind of formal setting.

How important is the viewer’s response to you? 

I try to tell myself that I don’t care what others think of my work, but I actually do. I want those who see my art to walk away with a thought.

What is your favorite setting to work? 

I’d like to paint in my room, but it’s difficult. It’s small, and I like to throw the paint. I often end up working outside — in parking lots and just on the streets.

What are your favorite media?

I like painting with my hands, and I like working with acrylic.

What is your main source of income? 

Assorted odd jobs and selling paintings.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

They’re happy that I’m doing something I love, but they’d probably prefer that I were studying to become a doctor or a lawyer.  My family is quite artsy, though. My father is a musician. My stepfather did graffiti, and my cousin is a painter.

Have you had any kind of formal art education?

No. But I had one teacher, Mr. Rorick, at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies, who encouraged me to follow my passion. 

Where are you headed?

I don’t know.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

To tell a story. To provoke thoughts in others that they might not otherwise have.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky;  photos 1, 3-5 & 7 courtesy of the artist; 2, 6 & 8 Lois Stavsky

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The face pictured above, Incident #2 – Government Approved, was fashioned by the late self-taught artist David Wojnarowicz with acrylic and collaged paper on composition board. Following are several more faces in a variety of media that I’ve recently captured in a range of largely alternative art spaces:

Harlem-based Guy Woodard, Untitled, 2014, Ballpoint pen on paper — as seen at Howl! in the East Village

Yonkers-based multi-disciplinary artist Michael Cuomo, Untitled, 2018, Oil pastel & Indian ink on bristol paper — as seen in his YOHO studio

Queens-based Robert Chin, Untitled, 2005, Acrylic on vinyl — as seen at the Creedmoor Living Museum

NYC-based self-taught painter Erik Hanson, Underpass, Oil on canvas — as seen at Postmasters in Tribeca

Multidisciplinary artist John Tursi, Untitled, Mixed media — as seen  at the Creedmoor Living Museum

The late Pacific Northwest First Nations artist Beau Dick, Ghost of Christmas Presents, 2016, Mixed media — as seen at White Columns in the West Village

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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