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I first came upon DubbleX’s distinctly intriguing aesthetic while documenting street art stickers a decade ago. This past year, I rediscovered his work — this time on canvas — at Fountain House Gallery. We met up last weekend and I had the opportunity to find out a bit about him:

When did you first begin drawing? Become interested in art?

It was always in me. But when I was in Middle School, I started drawing in class, and I couldn’t stop! I never paid any attention to what was being taught. I was totally distracted.

What is your earliest art-related memory?

It was in kindergarten. My teacher liked my work and hung up a few pieces that I had drawn. And, later on, I remember tracing – and then sketching — figures that I had found in my sister’s fashion magazines.

How has your family responded to your artistic bent?

When my mother saw how engaged I was in art, she took me to a life drawing class at the Art Students League. She didn’t know, of course, that I’d be painting from nude models. I still remember how her face dropped when she understood what I was to be doing! My sister bought one of my paintings, and my wife loves what I do. Yes, my family has been supportive!

How would you describe your particularly distinct aesthetic?

I would define it as abstract symbolism. I call my work XudeL, a mixture of words and symbols.

What has been the main inspiration behind your aesthetic? Any particular cultural influences?

Certainly graffiti, particularly handstyles. I’d first seen graffiti while riding the trains – but I was determined to do something different. I’m also inspired by Native American art and West Indian culture and the research I’ve done into Aborigine, Chinese and Japanese alphabets. Other influences include Brazilian pixação and West Coast cholo writing.

Have you any favorite artists?

Among them are: Basquiat, Jackson Pollack, Roy Lichtenstein and Matisse.

What about graffiti artists or handstyle masters?

Favorites include: Baser, Menace, Retna, Faust, Sicoer, Badypnose,

How much time do you generally spend on a piece?

It used to be just a week, but it now much much longer. I often spend two weeks just thinking and sketching. I spent an entire month on my last piece.

Have you any other passions – besides drawing and painting?

Chess, poetry and music.

Any particular music?

I’m a huge Reggae fan. I especially love Bob Marley and Augustus Pablo. I also like Led Zeppelin and Nirvana.

I’ve seen your work at Fountain House Gallery, and you’ve exhibited in a range of other sites, as well. How important is the viewer’s response to your art?

I used to not care. But now I realize that it does matter to me. I want people to like what I do.

Are you generally satisfied with your final piece?

For the most part! I’m most satisfied when it gets into a gallery show so that others can see it.

How has your aesthetic evolved within the past decade?

I started with stickers and then I moved on to canvases. That was my wife’s inspiration. And when I first began working on canvases, I was just doing black and white with nothing in the background. It is constantly evolving.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

I’d say about 40%. I spend at least three to four hours a day on my art.

Have you a favorite setting to work?

I like to work in my studio and in Central Park. I also like to draw while I’m riding on the trains.

And your favorite media?

All kinds of markers and pens: Molotow, Krink, Prisma, Pilot. I also like mixing acrylic and spraypaint.

Have you a formal art education?

I’m not classically trained, but I have taken several classes at the School of Visual Arts and at the Art Students League.

How did you connect to Fountain House?

After I was discharged from the the New York State Psychiatric Institute up in Washington Heights, my social worker told me about it. I love being involved with the gallery and sharing my work there.

Where are you headed? Any particular goals or dreams?

I’d love to design a hip-hop album cover. I’d also like to exhibit in a gallery abroad and have my work sought my collectors.

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

As an artist, my mission is to make people stop, think and reflect.

Note: To see more of DubbleX’s artwork and to check out the prices of several of his key works, check here. And you can find out more about the artist here.

Titles of featured artworks:

1 When the Masses Are Enlightened and Educated Societies Fall

2 Steel Pulse Affection

3 Mushka’s Crib, Ap’t 6B

4 Change Is Possible

5 A Better Transformation

6 Peace in Many Tongues

7 Magical Love Mystery

Photos of images 1, 2, 4-7 Lois Stavsky; 3 courtesy of the artist; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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Curated by Robin CembalestOasis: Exploring Central Park features over 40 Central Park – themed works in a range of genres by Fountain House artists. The stylish homage to Manhattan’s Central Park continues through this Wednesday, August 8, at Fountain House Gallery.  Pictured above is On a Cold Day in December fashioned by Alyson Vega with fabric and ink. Several more images of works on view follow:

Boo Lynn Walsh, Central Park Carousel, Ink and watercolor on birchwood

Miguel Colón, The Central Heart, Acrylic on canvas

Gytis Simaitis, 40.782535, -73.965656 which is the Top of the Great Lawn of Central Park and which is Where I Played Frisbee with My Son, Mixed media

Barry Senft, Bandshell, Acrylic on canvas

Dubblex, The Tree of Life Springs, Acrylic and marker on canvas

Founded by Fountain House in 2000 as a not-for-profit exhibition space for its member-artists living and working with mental illness, the Fountain House Gallery is located at 702 Ninth Avenue at 48th Street and is open Tues.-Sat. 11-7pm and Sun. 1-5pm.

Photos of featured images by Lois Stavsky

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Cutting a path through Constitution Lakes Park – not far from Downtown Atlanta, Georgia — is a mysteriously intriguing trail, known as the Doll’s Head Trail. It is a treasure trove of enchanting outsider art. Local carpenter Joel Slaton began the project as a showcase for discarded doll parts in 2011. Since then, visitors have contributed their own found art, many accompanied with titles or messages.

Spun Out

A Washed-Up Rocker with a Bone to Pick

Hear Say

History shows again & again how nature points out the folly of men

Avoid the Opioid Noid!!

Rosie in Retirement

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4, 5 & 7 Lois Stavsky 3 & 6 Tara Murray 

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While visiting Gallery 128 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side last week, I was charmed by a series of portraits forged by the self-taught Caribbean artist Carl “Woolly” Hewitt. Fashioned with wool, they exude a distinctly earthy charm and raw beauty. Based in Barbados, the artist had always loved to draw, but it was only several years ago that he began creating portraits with wool. Mr. Hewitt refers to himself as “the king of wool” or “the wool man,” claiming to be “the only wool artist in the world.” Featured above is Mildred. Several more portraits follow:

Crazy Inez

Bonco Dread

Lost George

Gold Teeth

Photos of images: Lois Stavsky

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Featured above is a close-up from a huge unsigned mural in Madrid, Spain featuring African refugees seeking shelter. Several more images of folks on the move — that I’ve come upon in my recent travels — follow:

A larger segment of the Madrid mural picturing African refugees

Argentine Naive artist Eduardo Ungar, “Musicians’ Moving Day”, as seen at Gina Gallery of International Naive Art

Self-taught Argentine artist Barbara Siebenlist, close-up from huge mural in Madrid, Spain

Ora Segalis, Skating Girl, as seen in the Ein Hod Artists Village in Northern Israel

The late Gernan-born Mexican artist  Mathias Goeritz, “Under the Moon,” as seen at Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid

Tel Aviv-based Leo Ray— whose works are largely marked by a distinct Naive aesthetic, “Postman”

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Thousands of folks – religious and secular, Jews and Arabs — with a range of disabilities have found a wonderfully warm, welcoming and nurturing home with Shekel, an organization enabling full inclusion of people with special needs within the general community.  Among the many services and activities provided by Shekel are art workshops. While visiting its Talpiot, Jerusalem headquarters earlier this week, I came upon a delightfully diverse selection of portraits created by people with special needs. What follows is a sampling:

And on a slightly different note —

Located at 11 Yad Harutzim Street in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood, Shekel also houses a first-rate dairy restaurant/cafe and welcomes visitors.

Photos of images: Lois Stavsky 

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The wonderfully inventive face pictured above was forged by Haitian artist Lionel Paul aka Onel with recycled textile art, sawdust, found objects and glue. Several more faces fashioned largely by Outsider artists — or by those who have embraced an Outsider sensibility — follow:

Chicago native Gregory Warmack aka Mr. Imagination, as seen earlier at Chicago’s Intuit

Israeli artist Elana Gil, as seen at Ein Hod Central Gallery in the Ein Hod Artists’ Village in the Haifa District

The legendary native Brooklynite Basquiat, as seen at Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art

Tel Aviv-based Yarin Didi on the streets of his city

Parisian artists Noty and Aroz, as seen on the streets of Lisbon, Portugal

Photo credits: 1-5 Lois Stavsky & 6 Sara C. Mozeson

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Artists – both self-taught and academically trained — are increasingly fashioning art with objects or materials that have been discarded. The image pictured above is from an assemblage forged by Portuguese artist Bordallo II –on view at Wynwood Walls in Miami, Florida. Several more images of upcycled works encountered in a range of sites follow:

Jim Power aka the Mosaic Man in the East Village, close-up

Collaborative — seen at Huerto Roma Verde, urban garden & recyling center in Mexico City

Baltimore-based Loring Cornish at Baltimore’s North Station

Brooklyn-based self-taught artist Sara Erenthal, close-up from her solo exhibit, “Re-cover,” at the Red House Shapira in Tel Aviv 

New Orleans-based Jean Marcel St. Jacques, forged from reclaimed wood from his Katrina-damaged home, close-up — as seen at Visionary Aponte at King Juan Carlos of Spain Center, NYU

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Currently on view at the American Folk Art Museum at 2 Lincoln Square in Manhattan is Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic, an exhibit of over 250 works by 21 self-taught artists. While several of these artists are well-known and have been widely exhibited, others have only been recently discovered. And they all have stories to tell. Pictured above is a magnified close-up from a diary page fashioned in text by UK-based artist Carlo Keshishian, who created the first of his diary drawings — totaling 3,945 words — in 2010. His use of this style is deliberate, as he does not want wish to share his personal reflections with anyone. It is also therapeutic. Several more images from this intriguing exhibit follow:

The late Richard Saholt — who battled schizophernia and post traumatic stress — “Untitled,” Magazine and newspaper clippings collaged on cardboard

The late German artist Ariane Bergrichter — who fought her demons through drawing, writing and creating collages based on scenes she saw while wondering the streets of downtown Brussels — “Untitled,” Ballpoint pen, felt pen and colored pencils on glued assembled paper sheets, 1989

New Zealand-based Susan Te Kahurangi King— who had lost the abilibty to speak by age eight, but has created hundreds of original comic-inspired drawings — “Untitled,” Pencil and colored pencil on paper, c. 1965

The legendary reclusive, prolific American artist and writer Henry Darger — “I see Glandellians, if they come here I’ll…We will slam them with our wings,” Watercolor, pencil, carbon tracing and collage on pieced paper, close-up

The late Spanish artist Josep Baque — who created 1500 fictitious creatures that he bound in nine different categories — selection from 454-page manuscript, ink on paper

Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic continues through May 27th at the American Folk Art Museum. Admission is free.

Photo credits: 1-5 Lois Stavsky; 6 Bonnie Astor

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Fashioned by the late French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet, the influential founder of the Art Brut movement, the image above, Noël au Sol, was captured awhile back at Acquavella Galleries on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. What follows are several more images of imaginary landscapes more recently seen in a range of settings:

American artist Jerry Gretzinger, “Jerry’s Map,” on exhibit through May 27 at the American Folk Art Museum

The late German artist Max Ernst, “The Bewildered Planet,” as seen at The Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Philadelphia-based mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, as seen at South Philly’s Magic Gardens

Self-taught Cuban artist Luis Joaquin Rodriguez Ricardo, “The Flamboyant Tree,” as seen at GINA Gallery

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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