≡ Menu

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 


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


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


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

{ 1 comment }

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


The curious characters pictured above were fashioned by the self-taught, transgender punk rocker Jayne County. What follows are several more works by largely self-taught artists that were seen in a range of settings, indoors and out.

Also by Jayne County, as seen last month at Participant on the Lower East Side

The late self-taught artist Foma Jaremtscuk, as seen at the Outsider Art Fair

Self-taught artist — and the late Keith Haring collaborator — Angel Ortiz aka LA2

NYC-based Baston714, pasted in Freeman’s Alley on Manhattan’s Lower East Side

Photo credits: 1-3 Tara Murray; 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky


The image pictured above was fashioned by the self-taught Nigerian artist Chief Z.O. Oloruntoba. What follows are several more images of faces  — some by self-taught artists and others by artists with a distinct outsider sensibility — that we recently encountered:

Self-taught artist Troy Stith, The Last Days of the Last Days, Oil on wood panel — as seen at the Outsider Art Fair

Self-taught artist Melvin Way, CL23H, Ballpoint pen on paper with Scotch tape — on exhibit in Melvin Way: The Cocaine Files Dossier at Andrew Edlin Gallery through March 25

The late Ecuadorian artist and activist Oswaldo Guayasamin — as seen at Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain

Cuban artist Juan Roberto Diago, Tarraco, Mixed media on canvas on cardboard — on exhibit in Visionary Aponte: Art & Black Freedom at NYU’s King Juan Carlos l of Spain Center through May 4

Self-taught Philippine artist Martin Honasan , Low Entropy, Acrylic and collage on canvas — as seen at Volta

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


Featuring over 60 portraits representing a diverse range of styles and sensibilities, About Face continues at Fountain House Gallery through April 11. Pictured above is a self-portrait painted by Fountain House artist Greg Stanger. Several more images from the engaging exhibit follow:

Lucinda Fernandez, Untitled

Bryan Michael Greene, Lydia

Anthony Newton, Untitled

Boo Lynn Walsh, Work in Progress

Gary Peabody, Sliders

Dubblex, Self Portrait 2

Located at 702 9th Avenue at 48th Street in Manhattan, Fountain House Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 7pm and Sunday from 1 to 5pm.

Photo credits:

1 & 2 Tara Murray; 3-7 Lois Stavsky


A delightfully talented artist with a passion to “make the world a better place,” Lexy Ho-Tai creates playful and interactive works in a range of media. Her long-term project Kookerville is set in an imaginary world populated by Kookers, wildly fanciful creatures made from found and recycled materials. We met up with Lexy earlier this year during her residency as a a Van Lier Fellow at the Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle.

What is your earliest art memory?

Art has always been a part of my life; I can’t remember when it wasn’t. My earliest memories are of scribbling on paper and painting in the bathroom with waterproof paint. I was three at the time.

What inspires you to create art?

I have to! It is a natural form of expression.

What are your favorite mediums?

Fabrics/textiles: soft sculpture and costumes. I also love illustration and painting.

Can you tell us something about your process of working with fabrics?

My main source of materials is the fabulous FABSCRAP. I use both my hands and a sewing machine to assemble my artwork.

Have you a formal art education?

Yes! I have a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School for Design (2016), where I was nominated for Designer of the Year.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

My parents grew up in Hong Kong. At first they were hesitant, but now they are supportive and happy.

What do you do when you, yourself, are not creating art?

I’m often teaching others to create art. In 2015, I co-created Accessible Art, a weekly art program for disabled youth in the South Bronx,  Art gives non-verbal kids the opportunity to express themselves.

What is your favorite setting to work?

I love working outside.

Any other passions?

Biking, nature, working with kids, learning new skills…

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

Each artist has a different role. I see art as a pathway to change.

What would you like people who see your art to walk away with?

Joy and wonder! And a sense that fashion isn’t something just to be consumed.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished project?

Generally, yes! I’m a perfectionist. And working with found materials, it is easy for me to move on to the next project.

What’s ahead?

Continuing to create things, helping people and traveling.

Good luck with it all! We love what you are doing!

Interview conducted by Bonnie Astor and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos 1 & 5 by Lois Stavsky; 2-4, courtesy of the artist

{ 1 comment }

While in Athens last week, I had the opportunity to visit The Museum of Greek Children’s Art, one of three museums throughout the globe devoted exclusively to children’s art. Its collections include approximately 8,000 drawings and 3D artworks created by children, ages five to 14 years old. Collaborating with a range of institutions, professionals and researchers, it offers workshops on a range of topics with particular emphasis on diversity and acceptance of differences. What follows are several more images from the exhibit, Alone or Unique? Diversity & Racism, which focuses on people who are “different.”

Group artwork, age 12 / M.G.C.A collaboration with the United Nations

Manodimou Maria, M.G.C.A. collaboration  with the Center for People with Special Needs, Municipality of Zografou, Athens, Greece.

Tilemachos Boukas, age 11

Images courtesy of the The Museum of Greek Children’s Art