The late self-taught artist Purvis Young began creating art in his largely African-American Miami neighborhood of Overtown in the 1960’s. Working with discarded materials he found on the streets and in abandoned buildings, he forged a riveting, seductive array of mixed-media works reflecting his particular sensibility and his community’s circumstances.
Currently on view at James Fuentes Gallery on the Lower East Side is a selection of artworks — fusing the spiritual and political, while suggesting yearning, struggle, prayer and acceptance.
In the untitled mixed-media work featured above the floating eyes likely represent the artist’s — and perhaps the world’s — guardians. Several more images on exhibit at James Fuentes Gallery follow:
Untitled, 1974, Oil on wood
Untitled, 1973, Paint on wood
Untitled, 1989, House paint on plywood
Untitled, 1992, Acrylic and house paint on wood
Untitled, 1974, Paint on wood
The exhibition continues at James Fuentes Gallery, 55 Delancey Street , through December 6. It is open Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–6pm.
Born in Paraguay in 1962, the poetically distinct visual artist Feliciano Centurión settled in Argentina, where he became a key figure in Buenos Aires cultural circles in the early 1990’s. Identified with both folk art and queer aesthetics, he left a significant body of wondrous art at the time of his death from AIDS-related complications in 1996. On view at the Americas Society through this Friday is the first solo exhibition of his work — as it continues to garner admiration and attention — outside of Latin America.
The image featured above, Florece (Flourishes), was fashioned with embroidery and thread on natural and synthetic fibers. It is one of many of Feliciano Centurión‘s artworks generally associated with women’s aesthetics. Several more images — all created between 1990 and 1995 — on view at the Americas Society follow:
Tigres (Tigers), Acrylic on blanket
Lagartijas (Lizards), Acrylic on blanket — one of the many images of subtropical animals painted onto blankets
Surubí, 1972, Acrylic and enamel on blanket
Estrella del Mar (Seastar), Embroidery on blanket and acrylic paint
Medusas (Jellyfish), Acrylic and crochet on blanket (L.); Pulpo Violeta (Purple Octopus), Acrylic on blanketanda selection of plastic toys with crochet
And on a somber note fashioned one year before the artist’s death:
Soy Alma en Pena (I Am a Soul in Pain), Embroidery on fabric
Curated by Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, the exhibition continues at the Visual Arts Gallery of the Americas Society, 680 Park Avenue, through this week. You can book a time slot here for a visit Wednesday through Friday, 12 to 6 pm.
It is difficult to perceive of our nation’s punitive prison system as an incubator for creativity and inventive aesthetic processes. But for some prisoners it has become just that. Creating art is their means to liberate themselves from the confines of their captivity. It provides them with a positive identity, respect, camaraderie and even some income from commissions. Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, brilliantly curated by Nicole R Fleetwood, presents the works of 44 artists — all with deep ties to our dysfunctional prison system.
The image featured above, Portrait of Rodney Spivey-Jones, was fashioned by the formerly-incarcerated, self-taught, Philadelphia-based artist Russell Craig. Constructed with paint, cow blood, book pages and leather on canvas, the portrait pays homage to Rodney Spivey-Jones, a currently incarcerated artist, who received his bachelor’s degree from Bard College in 2017 through the Bard Prison Initiative. Several more images from this soulful, wonderfully expressive exhibition follow:
A segment from “Apokaluptein 16389067” — masterly crafted from 2010-2013 with prison bed sheets, transferred newsprint, color pencil, graphite and gouache — by the formerly incarcerated, Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary artist and activist Jesse Krimes
Self-taught, formerly incarcerated, South Carolina-based, multidisciplinary artist Jared Owens, “The Go Back,” 2020, Ink, soil from prison yard at F.C.I. Fairton, and parachute cloth on canvas
San Quentin State Prison–incarceratedartist and musician Gary Harrell, “Restore Justice,” 2019, Linocut on paper
Puerto Rico-born, Brooklyn-based, formerly incarcerated, self-taught artist Gilberto Rivera, “Untitled,” 2020, Newspaper, caulk, silicone, spray paint, acrylic and markers on canvas, one of three panels
Formerly incarcerated artist Ronnie Goodman –– who tragically died this past August on the streets of San Francisco’s Mission District — “San Quentin Arts in Corrections Art Studio,” 2008, Acrylic on canvas
Pennsylvania-based incarcerated artist Mark Loughney, “Pyrrhic Defeat: A Visual Study of Mass Incarceration,” 2014–present, close-up from a series of 651 graphite drawings on paperof fellow inmates
This must-see exhibition continues through April 4. 2021 at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens. For further information and to reserve a timed ticket, check here.
The image pictured above, “Shovels,” was fashioned with dye on tooled leather by the self-taught Southern African-American artist Winfred Rembert. Rendered in 2009, it was one of dozens of works recently on view in An Alternative Canon: Art Dealers Collecting Outsider Art at the Andrew Edlin Gallery in Manhattan. What follows are several more artworks of folks at workby a variety of self-taught artists representing a diverse range of cultural and national backgrounds:
Nigerian native Abe Odebina, “Maintenance,” 2019, Acrylic on plywood — as seen earlier this year at Art on Paper in Manhattan
The image featured above in Part III of our series, A Couple of Couples, was fashioned by the self-taught Israeli artist Vered Gersztenkorn — whose beguiling aesthetic we discovered awhile back in Tel Aviv. Several more images of couples by a diverse range of artists — some self-taught and others formally trained — follow:
Self-taught Yonkers-based interdisciplinary artist Michael Cuomo, “Untitled,” Mixed media — as seen in his Yoho studio
NYC-based self-taught artist Erik Hanson does Bluto & Popeye: “Mykonos,” 2017, Oil on canvas — as seen in “PRIDE,” a group exhibition held last summer at Postmasters Gallery in Tribeca
The alluring image featured above, “Cityscape with Cars,” was fashioned with oil paint on found wood by the late African-American, Miami-based self-taught artist, Purvis Young. I came upon it while visiting the epic exhibition Vernacular Voices at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans last year. What follows are several more images of landscapes — real and imaginary — all created by self-taught artists.
The late self-taught Asian/Canadian artist Matthew Wong, “August,” 2018, watercolor on paper — as seen in his solo exhibition at Karma in the East Village in 2018
Another by the late self-taught Asian/Canadian artist Matthew Wong, “Untitled,” 2018, Watercolor on paper — as seen in his solo exhibition at Karma in the East Village in 2018
The late African-American/Native-American self-taught artist Joseph Elmer Yoakum, “Mt Look Out in Toppenish Range near Vancouver Washington,” 1968, Color pencil, ballpoint pen on paper — as seen last summer in his solo exhibition at Venus Over Manhattan on Manhattan’s Upper East
Made up of assorted materials glued onto varied surfaces — from papers to wooden boards — collage art was first recognized as a distinct art form at the beginning of the 20th century. The collage pictured above, “We Dare to Know Where Our Tale Begin,” was fashioned in 2019 by the African-American, Milwaukee-based self-taught artist Della Wells. I discovered Della’s infectious aesthetic at this past January’s Outsider Art Fair. Several more collages by a diverse range of artists — all largely self-taught — follow:
The late, largely self-taught multimedia artist and activist David Wojnarowicz, “History Keeps Me Awake at Night,” 1986, Acrylic, spray paint and collaged paper on composition board — as seen in his 2018 solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum
The recently-deceased, self-taught collage artist Michael Anderson — as seen back in 2010 in his solo Chelsea exhibition, “The Street Is My Palette.”
The late celebrated, self-taught multi-media artist, Rammellzee, “Ransom Note…” Mixed media collage on board — as seen in his 2018 solo exhibition at Red Bull Arts New York
I discovered Billy White‘s endearing, authentic aesthetic while visiting his solo exhibition, Coming to America, back in 2018 at Shrine Gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Last week, I was delighted to visit his current exhibit, This is a Show by Billy, that continues through August 2 at Shrine.
Billy has been developing and honing his skills at the NIAD Art Center — an art studio and program for artists with developmental disabilities in Richmond, California — since 1994. Featured above is the artist’s self-portrait, fashioned with acrylic on linen in 2018. Several more images from the self-taught, African-American artist’s current exhibit follow:
Untitled, 2020, Acrylic on canvas
Joe DiMaggio. ca 2015, Acrylic and mixed media on stretched canvas
Untitled, 2020, Acrylic on canvas
And particularly apropos of our times — Untitled, 2018, Acrylic on canvas
Also on exhibit are a series of charming, glazed ceramic sculptures. Open Wednesday – Sunday
12pm–6pm, Shrine is located at 179 East Broadway on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. You can contact the gallery to schedule an appointment via its website.
The image featured above was fashioned by the self-taught Japanese artist, Masayoshi Hanawa, whose tantalizing aesthetic I discovered at the NYC Outsider Art Fair in 2019. Several more images of couples rendered in an array of styles by a diverse range of artists — all self-taught — follow:
Self-taught Yonkers-based multimedia artist Michael Cuomo, — as earlier this year in his Yoho studio
DC-based multidisciplinary artist B. Peppers, Portraits of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT recently shot to death in her apartment by Louisville Metro Police and Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed, 25-year-old black manwho was chased down and killed while he was jogging in Glynn County, Ga — as seen earlier this week outside the Public Theater in Manhattan. Both names have been voiced daily in protests that have risen up across the world following the murder of George Floyd.