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In his consistently brilliantly bizarre fashion, Brooklyn-based RAE has ingeniously captured the almost-apocolyptic frenzy that characterizes Coney Island. After spending some time at his current exhibit, “The End Starts Now,” we had the opportunity to speak.

Why Coney Island?

As a child, I used to venture into Coney Island, and from early on, I was captivated by the way two distinct worlds collide in this same space. Known principally as a place of fun, Coney Island also has a very dark side. Some of the destitute people I’ve seen here have never even made their way into Manhattan. Tourists who come here don’t see them. They are easy to miss. But they are part of Coney Island’s fabric.

Yes! Your images seem to perfectly reflect this juxtaposition as they exude both a sense of playfulness and a sense of sorrow. Your sculptures on view here are all made from found objects, as are the many that have made their way onto our streets. Can you tell us something about that? Why do you choose to work with these materials?

I always try to find beauty in what so many others find worthless. I’m drawn to what others cast away.

And where did you find the materials that you repurposed for this exhibit?

I found most of them on the nearby side streets and behind the amusement park rides. I salvaged objects that even the homeless folks had discarded.

I’ve noticed several references to dice in both your sculptures and your works on canvas.

Yes. The dice are a commentary on the precariousness of it all. So much that we experience happens to us by chance.

And your references to money and politics are a perfect metaphor for the larger story of our country at this time! When did you begin working on “The End Starts Now?”

I started in the spring.

Are you satisfied with the outcome?

I am! It is very different from my last year’s exhibit “The RAE Show,” that was held in a storefront on the Lower East Side, where I was visible to the public just about all day every day for an entire month. But, yes, I had always dreamed of having a show in Coney Island, and we’ve had a steady stream of visitors. It would be fun, though, to do something again in a storefront!

How can folks still see the exhibit? It’s too much fun to be missed!

It will be on view one more time — next Saturday, October 13, from 1 – 4pm here at 1220 Surf Avenue, floor 3.

Congratulations on another amazing show! I can’t wait to see what’s next!


  1. Face Fears, Mixed media on canvas
  2. The System, Mixed media on archival paper
  3. Odds, Reclaimed object sculpture
  4. Red Glare, Mixed media on canvas
  5. Syntax #2, Mixed media on canvas

Interview with RAE conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos of images Lois Stavsky


On exhibit through October 13 at BronxArtSpace is HUMBLE, a thoroughly captivating exhibition featuring the works of 15 contemporary artists from various tribal nations across the US. Organized by Cougar Vigil and Eva Mayhabal Davis, HUMBLE is titled after an interdisciplinary network of Native American artists who attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, Mexico in the mid-2000’s. Featured above is the title piece HUMBLE, fashioned by Cannupa Hanska in collaboration with Micah Werewulf Wesley. Several more images —  representative of the range of techniques and styles presented in HUMBLE — follow:

Michael Two Bulls, Historical Document, Paper collage, silkscreen and acrylic 

Marty Two Bulls Jr, Midnight, Mixed media

Douglas Miles, Woman on Fire, Customized Pizza Box

Marty Two Bulls Jr in collaboration with Hoka Skenandore, He Supa (Black Hills) Mixed media

April Holder, String Theory #2, Acrylic and embroidery floss on canvas

And from the opening reception:

Located at 305 East 140th Street in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, BronxArtSpace is open 12 to 6:30pm Wednesday through Friday and 12 to 5pm on Saturday.  Check here for information regarding upcoming events related to the exhibit including: artist talks, an artist market and a studio visit with artist Brad Kahlhamer.

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky


On view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through September 23 is History Refused to Die: Highlights from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Gift, a rich and varied collection of 30 paintings, sculptures, drawings and quilts by contemporary self-taught African American artists. Pictured above is Locked up Their Minds — fashioned iwith commercial paint on plywood in 1972 — by the late Missouri native Purvis Young. Several more works on view in this historic group exhibition follow:

Alabama native Lonnie Holley, African Mask, Repurposed automobile tires, welder’s mask, electrical outlets, electrical cord, door lock and lace fabric, 2003

The late Alabama native Lucy T. Pettway, Housetop and Bricklayer with Bars quilt, Cotton and acetate, ca. 1955

Alabama native Loretta Pettway, Medallion quilt, Cotton and rayon acetate blend, ca. 1960

The late Alabama native Ronald Lockett, The Enemy Amongst Us, Commercial paint, pine needles, metal and nails on plywood, 1995

The late Alabama native, Thornton Dial, Powder Plant, Sheet metal, sawdust, commercial paint and adhesive on wood, 2013

Also by Thornton Dial,, History Refused to Die, Okra stalks and roots, clothing, collaged drawings, tin, wire, steel, Masonite, steel chain, enamel and spray paint, 2004

The exhibition can be viewed through next Sunday, September 23, at the Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 918-919, Lila Acheson Wallace Wing.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky


Eddie Owens Martin aka St. EOM, the late Southern self-taught visionary artist, worked for 30 years transforming several acres of land in Pasaquan, Marin County, Georgia into a fantastical, boldly-hued alternative universe. Largely earning his living as a fortune-teller, he fashioned a personal temple from concrete, metal, wood and paint. On this wildly inventive site, he staged bizarre, ritualistic performances while dressed in outrageous costumes.

“I built this place to have something to identify with. Here I can be in my own world, with my temples and designs and the spirit of God. I can have my own spirits and my own thoughts,” he explained

A glimpse into the late artist’s folksy outsider aesthetic can be viewed in Atlanta’s newly renovated Folk Art Park where seven totems stand honoring St. EOM’s homestead, Pasaquan. Featured here are four captured on our recent visit to Atlanta.

The Folk Art Park is located at the intersections of Piedmont Avenue at Baker Street and Courtland Street at Ralph McGill Boulevard in Atlanta, Georgia.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky


Among the highlights of the 2018 Harlem/Havana Music and Cultural Festival is the International Art and Photography Exhibit that opened earlier this month at the Mural Pavilion of Harlem Hospital Center. On display are works by over 30 artists celebrating our diverse cultures, along with the bonds that unite us all. Pictured above is Hermanas fashioned with oil and mixed media on canvas by the self-taught Cuban artist Sandra Dooley. Several more images of artworks on display follow:

Self-taught Cuban visionary artist Elio Vilva, Art on paper, close-up

Self-taught Cuban artist Alejandro Lazo aka Alazo, La culpa de todo, La tiene el toti, Oil on canvas

Cuban actor and painter Jorge Perugorría aka Gorria, En San Isidro se baila asi, Oil on canvas

Harlem-based multi-media visionary artist Paul Deo, Till the End of All Time, Mixed-media

New York-based Ecuadorian artist Max Sarmiento, Adios, Acrylic and graphite on canvas

Harlem/Havana 2018 is curated by Barbara Horowitz of Community Works and guest curator Elan Cadiz; the Cuban work is curated by Sandra Levinson of the Center for Cuban Studies. The exhibition continues through October 30, 2018 at the Harlem Hospital Mural Pavilion, 512 Lenox Avenue. Gallery hours are Tuesday, Thursday-Saturday 12-4pm or by appointment.

Photos of images Lois Stavsky


A treasure trove of outsider art, the Doll’s Head Trail cuts a path through Constitution Lakes Park – not far from Downtown Atlanta, Georgia. 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. Featured above in Part II of our series documenting this intriguing trail is a Cabbage Patch doll who has found a new home. Several more images follow:

Doll in Stroller with Music Player

An Alluring Face

Awash in Guns

With Work to Do

Another Hiker Doing His Thing

Digging This Place!

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


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 by 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


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


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 


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