The Outsider Art Fair, which runs through Sunday February 1 at Center 548 in New York City, brings outsiders to the mainstream. This year, Los Angeles-based The Good Luck Gallery joined the fair, showing only artist Andrew Frieder. The Good Luck Gallery’s Paige Wery, who opened her Chung King Road space last year, shows a wide range of outsider art, ranging from a 103 year old sculptor to a self-taught farmer whose beautiful exhibition of native plants are currently showing in the gallery. The Good Luck Gallery is currently the only commercial space in Los Angeles with a focus on self-taught and outsider art.
Wery is devoted to outsider art, which she defines as
being made by self-taught artists working outside the art world canon. Some outsider artists have mental or physical difficulties or disabilities while others are/were not aware of art history and still others are living on the fringe of society, yet they make art. No professors graded them according to art history or personal taste. They found their creative voice on their own.
Wery immersed herself in outsider art accidentally when she dropped out of art school and moved form San Francisco to live an artist’s life on Venice Boardwalk, selling her paintings to beachgoers. There she encountered artists with no training, often disabled physically or by mental illness who were driven to create–and who made profound works of art. She began curating these artists into Highland Grounds, a (now-closed) cafe in Hollywood in order to bring their art to a wider audience. The artists were excited and would make the trek from Venice to attend the openings and engage in a new world.
People create to communicate, first with themselves and then to leave a mark saying “I was here” and outsider artists are the most vital and direct expression of this. (And yes, now some art students are attempting to be outsiders, mimicking the styles and trying to shatter years of academic training to tap into what they feel is their authentic outsider voice.)
The Outsider Art Fair, now in its 22 year, has developed into something other than “outside.” With press coverage in Forbes, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, this fair draws art world insiders and collectors looking for fresh talent. Organizers work very hard to insure that the artists shown are truly outsiders and not the aforementioned “fauxtsiders.” Showing for the first time: the former groundskeeper at the legendary Gray Gardens, Jerry the Garden Gnome, and The Good Luck Gallery with their solo show of Andrew Frieder.
Frieder who lived in Lancaster, California was schizophrenic, and would create, then destroy his work, repeating the cycle endlessly with very few pieces surviving. The last twenty years of his life were spent stabilized on medications, and he continued to create. Only after his death was the full range of his output discovered, and he was the focus of a solo show at Lancaster, California’s Museum of Art and History. The Good Luck Gallery is representing the artist’s estate and their Outsider Art Fair exhibit focuses on his mixed-media paintings and drawings.
It’s a curatorial (and financial) risk to show an unknown artist in a solo show at your first fair in your first year of business, but Wery, a bold and gutsy visionary, is passionate about Frieder’s work and all the artists she shows.
Says Wery :
I think its beautiful and meaningful and I wanted to help get it in front of the public eye. Its truly a gut feeling of what art/artists I want to work with. Which might sound hoakey but its truthful.
Top: Arthur Freider, Untitled (Woman with Sack)
Untitled (Vanquishing The Serpent)
Untitled (Man with Skull)