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Heartland Visions April 30 — August 29, 2009

Culprits, Innocents & Outsiders

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art


Culprits, Innocents & Outsiders Heartland Visions brings together the highly original work of 7 self-taught artists He believed he had lived 33,906 lives; that Ethiopia was his place of birth, that he was of royal ancestry, and that he possessed psychic powers. A resident of Cleveland, he claimed to have traveled Europe and the U.S. widely, to have visited Haiti on numerous occasions, and to have engaged in astral travel. Photos of Morris Ben Newman (1883-1980) that survive often show him dressed formally with suit and tie, wearing a fez cap. Newman was a large stately man of imposing proportions, whose extraordinary and exaggerated claims defined his persona. The array of materials he used to make art, the paintings that found their way into private collections, and the memory jugs, handcrafted pipes and other art that Newman created reflect an incredible imagination and artistic vision that form his legacy. Though little has been written about Newman, he was assuredly a complex individual who arguably is among the most enigmatic and curious figures of any self-taught American artist. During it’s nearly 20 years, Intuit has shown its ability to cull through the myriad of self-taught art to find and elevate those artists worthy of greater attention. In that spirit, the exhibition Culprits, Innocents and Outsiders: Heartland Visions presents seven extraordinary artists whose undeniable individuality is highly evident in the art they produced. In addition to works by venerable artists William Hawkins (1895-1990) and Elijah Pierce (1892-1984), the exhibit showcases the art of Mary Borkowski (1916-2008), best known for her “silk thread paintings”; Mary Frances Merrill (1920-1999), whose painted and decorated coal and rock heads serve as rare American examples of art brut; painter/sculptor David Pond (1940-2001); sculptor Ernest “Popeye” Reed (1919-1985); and visionary Morris Ben Newman (1883-1980). This exhibition takes on somewhat of an historical significance, in that, its inspiration grew from accounts of a 1986 exhibition 1 + 3 from Ohio, organized by Ohio University art historian Gary J. Schwindler. That exhibition featured works by William Hawkins, Mary Merrill, and Morris Newman, as well as a small selection of works by Elijah Pierce. Included in Culprits, Innocents and Outsiders: Heartland Visions are representative works from each artist drawn from several stellar Midwest public and private collections. Lenders include the Milwaukee Art Museum (WI), the Dayton Art Institute (OH), and the Columbus Museum of Art (OH), which holds the largest collection of works by Elijah Pierce. This is art from a magnificent group of 7 self-taught artists that is full of personal expression and intuition. These artists seem to have no problems whatsoever moving from one means of expression or medium to another. The exhibition includes works that extend from traditional painting on canvas to painting on just about any available surface the artists could find or put their hands on. The work reflects precisely chiseled stone sculptures depicting mythical figures, to low-relief embroidery with fine silk thread painstakingly sewn onto cloth, to works using discarded chewing gum and wrappers. It is intriguing to imagine, if you will, the time and circumstances during which these individuals lived and later flourished as artists – some in the same neighborhood just blocks from one another. This is extraordinary art produced by extraordinary people, living next door to us. William Hawkins grew up on a farm in rural eastern Kentucky. Educated in a one-room schoolhouse through the third grade, Hawkins worked as a laborer and truck driver settling in Columbus,

Ohio. Known fondly as “Grandpa” to those who frequented his near eastside neighborhood, Hawkins is heralded by critics for his bold, graphic and imaginative paintings. Elijah Pierce was the son of a former slave, born on a cotton plantation in Baldwyn, Mississippi. Although an uncle taught him to whittle, Pierce chose to cut hair as his trade. He earned his license as an itinerant Baptist preacher in 1920, and soon after joined the Great Migration north. Considered an American master carver and one of it’s most important folk artists, Pierce created his most elaborate work, The Book of Wood, depicting New Testament scenes, which he used as illustrated sermons. Mary Merrill’s art making spanned three decades, with the most prolific period occurring during a ten-year bout with a goraphobia. To keep her company, Merrill made dolls from fabric scraps. And, using paint, chewing gum, jewelry, etc., she turned rocks and coal nuggets into heads – even adding make-up. Mary Borkowski’s oeuvre consists of more than 200 quilts, 113 thread paintings, 73 acrylic paintings – all done in one year (1978) – just to get her stories out, and 5 mixed media collages. She once stated, “The world is on fire, and I have something to say about it.” Some of the pioneer collectors of self-taught art, including Herbert Hemphill, Jr. and Robert Bishop, visited Borkowski’s home in Dayton and bought her often-surreal stories in thread. Unlike the other artists in this exhibition, Ernest “Popeye” Reed and David Pond shunned the city in favor of secluded country living. A young Reed found work in sawmills, and later as a cabinetmaker. He resided in a log cabin in southern Ohio until he replaced it with a hand-made house trailer. Popeye marveled at the realism achieved in ancient Greek sculpture, believing they must have turned humans into stone using liquefied marble. David Pond also called a trailer home, settling near Somerset in southeastern Ohio. Pond worked as a carnival roadie, and later ran an antique store before turning his attention to making art. He often distributed business cards listing his trade as “salvage analyst.” Known for his keen sense of humor, Pond was an avid reader and a lover of poetry. The seven individuals in this exhibition chose to make art without the so-called advantages of academic training. These artists realized their own means of expression, some blazing new trails in the process. Culprits, Innocents and Outsiders: Heartland Visions presents art that is idiosyncratic and original—art that spans 60-some years—that lives on inspiring others. – KEVIN COLE, CURATOR


(left) Ernest “Popeye” Reed, Untitled, (Venus). Carved sandstone, 20 x 4¾ x 5 in. Collection of Daniel S. Berger, MD. Photo by John Faier (right) David Pond, African Princess, 1990. Carved and painted wood. Private Collection. Photo by John Faier


Mary Frances Merrill Dixie, c. 1975-85 Paint on Linoleum 37“ x 31½“ Private Collection Mary Frances Merrill Untitled (Dog Head), ca 1980s Painted Rock with Mixed Media 7½” x 5½” x 6” Collection of Ted and Gail Struve Mary Frances Merrill Fats Domino Enamel on Brick 8“ x 3½“ x 2½“ Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland

William Hawkins, Red Dog Running, #3, 1986. Enamel on Masonite, 48“ x 60“. Collection of Columbus Museum of Art, Gift of Anonymous Donor; 1986.024 Culprits, Innocents, and Outsiders: Heartland Visions Mary Borkowski The Art Thief, 1977 Acrylic on Canvas Board 9½” x 17½” Dayton Art Institute, Gift of De De Isaacson, 2000.69 Mary Borkowski The Book of Life, 1994 Silk Thread Painting 36“ x 38“ ( framed) Private Collection Mary Borkowski The Crash, 1968 Silk Thread Painting 19“ x 42“ Collection of Pat Glascock and Michael Hall Mary Borkowski Distortion, 1978 Acrylic on Canvas Board 19¼” x 24¾” The Arient Family Collection Mary Borkowski Distortion, c. 1968 Silk Thread Painting 18¼” x 20¼” Dayton Art Institute, Museum Purchase 1968.57 Mary Borkowski Indecision, c. 1968 Silk Thread Painting 32“ x 24½” Dayton Art Institute, Museum Purchase, 1968.58 Mary Borkowski In the beginning, c. 1980 Silk Thread Painting 29” x 29” The Arient Family Collection

Mary Borkowski IT ONLY TOOK A SECOND, 1968 Silk Thread Painting 24” x 20” Collection of Kenneth and Donna Fadeley Mary Borkowski Neighbor and the Nude, c. 1968 Silk Thread Painting 22½” x18 ½” Dayton Art Institute, Museum Purchase, 1968.56 Mary Borkowski The Despicable Allergy, 1993 Silk Thread Painting 33“ x 37“ Collection of Denny Griffith and Beth Fisher Mary Borkowski Uninvited, A Child’s Thanksgiving Memory, c. 1970s Acrylic and Collage on Canvas 25“ x 31“ Private Collection William Hawkins Indian Hunting Buffalo, 1988 Paint on Canvas 48“ x 56½“ Collection of Daniel S. Berger, MD William Hawkins Last Supper #6, 1986 Enamel on Masonite with Collage 24“ x 48“ Collection of Robert A. Roth

William Hawkins Ohio State Penitentiary Enamel on Masonite 54” x 48“ Collection of Lael and Eugenie Johnson William Hawkins Red Dog Running, #3, 1986 Enamel on Masonite 48“ x 60“ Collection of Columbus Museum of Art, Gift of Anonymous Donor; 1986.024 William Hawkins Three Hanging Men, 1985 Enamel on Masonite 32“ x 48“ Collection of Robert A. Roth

Mary Frances Merrill Girl in Green Dress with Doll, c. 1975-85 Paint on Linoleum 17“ x 11½“ Private Collection Mary Frances Merrill Untitled (Lady’s Head), c. 1980s Painted Rock and Mixed Media 6” x 5“ x 5” Collection of Ted and Gail Struve Mary Frances Merrill Mother and Child, c. 1975-85 Paint on Indoor/outdoor Carpeting 18½“ x 22½“ Private Collection Mary Frances Merrill Untitled (African Head) Paint on Rock, Chewing Gum, and Costume Jewelry 6“ x 5“ x 5”

Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland Mary Frances Merrill Untitled (Christ’s Head) Paint on Rock, Chewing Gum, and Costume Jewelry 7“ x 5½“ x 4” Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland Mary Frances Merrill Untitled (Doll #1), c. 1978-80 Mixed Media 12” x 4“ x 4” Collection of Art and Barbara Vogel Mary Frances Merrill Untitled (Doll #2), c 1978-80 Mixed Media 12“ x 4“ x 4” Collection of Art and Barbara Vogel Mary Frances Merrill Untitled (Gray Head) Paint on Rock, Chewing Gum, and Costume Jewelry 5“ x 4“ x 3” Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland Mary Frances Merrill Untitled (Large Woman’s Head) Paint on Rock, Chewing Gum, and Costume Jewelry 8“ x 6“ x 7” Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland Mary Frances Merrill Untitled (Woman with Orange Scarf) Fingernail Polish on Rock, Costume Jewelry 5“ x 6½“ x 4” Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland

William Hawkins Wrigley Field Enamel on Board 13½“ x 18“ Collection of Jan Petry Mary Frances Merrill African Wedding Mixed Media on Board 20“ x 13¼“ Collection of Columbus Art Museum of Art, Gift of Tim and Karen Keny, 2004.014 Mary Frances Merrill The Bible Salesman, c. 1980s Paint on Linoleum 19 x 16” Collection of Russell A. Howard Mary Frances Merrilll Black Santa with Children, c. 1975-85 Mixed Media Collage 15½“ x 18½“ Private Collection

Elijah Pierce, The Kiss, c. 1977-79. Carved and painted wood relief, glitter, 19 x 15 in. Collection of Daniel S. Berger, MD. Photo by John Faier


Mary Frances Merrill Valley Dale Paint and Collage on Linoleum 15“ x 18“ Collection of Art and Barbara Vogel Morris Ben Newman Untitled (Landscape, from New Flower Series) Oil on Canvas 28“ x 53“ Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland Morris Ben Newman Untitled (Temple on the Rocks), c. 1978 Paint on Canvas 29½” “ x 33“ Courtesy Lindsay Gallery, Columbus, OH Morris Ben Newman Untitled, (From New Flowers Series) Paint on Canvas 29“ x 30“ Courtesy Lindsay Gallery, Columbus, OH

Morris Ben Newman Untitled from new Flowers Series Paint on Canvas Windowshade 29“ x 30“ Collection of Judith and Patrick Blackburn Elijah Pierce Bad Bad Leroy Brown, 1979 Painted Wood Relief 22“ x 26“ The Arient Family Collection Elijah Pierce Before Death All Are Equal, 1946-47 Painted Wood Relief 13½“ x 14“ Collection of Columbus Art Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Boris Gruenwald, 1974.021 Elijah Pierce Born Again, 1967 Wood Relief 20½“ x 23½“ x 2” Collection of Daniel S. Berger, MD

Morris Ben Newman Untitled (Mobite Temple from New Flower Series) Paint on Wood 27¼“ x 32½“ Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland

Elijah Pierce Jesus Calming the Storm Painted & Carved Wood Relief 21½“ x 12½“ Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland

Morris Ben Newman Untitled (2 Pipes), c. 1970 Paint on Plastic, Wood, Mixed Media 26“ x 2“ x 5” Courtesy Lindsay Gallery, Columbus, OH

Elijah Pierce The Kiss, c. 1977-79. Carved and painted wood relief, glitter, 19 x 15 in. Collection of Daniel S. Berger, MD

Elijah Pierce The Mule that Wouldn’t Move, 1978 Wood Relief 16“ x 25“ Collection of Daniel S. Berger, MD Elijah Pierce Pearl Harbor and the African Queen, ca. 1941 Carved, Assembled and Painted Wood with Glitter 23¼” x 27” x 1½” Milwaukee Art Museum, The Michael and Julie Hall Collection of American Folk Art, M1989.253 Elijah Pierce The Story of Job, ca. 1936 Carved and Painted Wood 16” x 29” x 2” Milwaukee Art Museum, The Michael and Julie Hall Collection of American Folk Art, M1989.254 David Pond African Princess, 1990 Carved and Painted Wood 14½“ x 2½“ x 1½“ Private Collection David Pond The Auction Oil on Board 50“ x 31½“ Collection of Sharon Weiss and Roger Pettry David Pond Gandhi, 1986 Carved and Painted Wood 49“ x 10“ x 9” Collection of Paul Emory

Mary Frances Merrill, Dixie, c. 1975-85. Paint on Linoleum, 37“ x 31½“. Private Collection. Photo by John Faier David Pond In the Park, 1989 Oil on Canvas 40½” x 28¾” Collection of Paul Emory David Pond The Mighty Kingdom (Escape from Eden), 1988 Oil on Canvas Board 16” x 22½” Collection of Paul Emory David Pond Woman with Pipe, 1989 Oil on Canvas Board 8½” x 6½” Collection of Paul Emory David Pond The Last Pitch, 1997 Carved and Painted Wood 36“ x 8“ x 5½“ Private Collection E. “Popeye” Reed Female Sphinx Carved Sandstone 8“ x 3½“ x 3½“ Collection of Jan Petry E. “Popeye” Reed Indian Chief (Head) Carved Sandstone 16“ x 10“ x 5” Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland E. “Popeye” Reed Indian Child, c. 1979 Carved Wood 29“ x 9“ x 5” Courtesy Lindsay Gallery, Columbus, OH

(Morris Ben Newman, Untitled, Mobite Temple from New Flowers series, c. 1977-79. Paint on wood panel. Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland. Photo by John Faier

E. “Popeye” Reed Jonah and the Whale Carved Wood Sculpture 22“ x 7½“ x 4½“ Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland E. “Popeye” Reed Large Mermaid Carved Sandstone 18“ x 10“ x 4” Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland E. “Popeye” Reed Mother and Child Carved Sandstone 9“ x 8“ x 5” Collection of Mike and Cindy Noland E. “Popeye” Reed Untitled (Duck) Stone on Bone 5“ x 5“ x 12” Collection of Judith and Patrick Blackburn E. “Popeye” Reed Untitled (Seated Indian) Carved Sandstone 14“ x 6“ x 6” Collection of Judith and Patrick Blackburn E. “Popeye” Reed Venus Carved Limestone 20“ x 4¾“ x 5” Collection of Daniel S. Berger, MD


(above) Elijah Pierce, Before Death All Are Equal, 1946-47. Painted Wood Relief, 13½“ x 14“. Collection of Columbus Art Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Boris Gruenwald, 1974.021 (front cover) William Hawkins, Detail, Indian Hunting Buffalo, 1988. Paint on Canvas 48“ x 56½“. Collection of Daniel S. Berger, MD

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art 756 N. Milwaukee Avenue Chicago, IL 60642 312-243-9088 Fax 312-243-9089

Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-5pm Thursday, 11am-7:30pm

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Intuit is supported in part by grants from: the Alphawood Foundation, Arts Work Fund at the Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs for City Arts, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, MacArthur Fund for the Arts and Culture at the Richard Driehaus Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, John R. Houlsby Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, Irving Harris Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, and the Terra Foundation of American Art.

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Intuit: "Culprits, Innocents and Outsiders Heartland Visions" Show  

April 29 - August 29, 2009

Intuit: "Culprits, Innocents and Outsiders Heartland Visions" Show  

April 29 - August 29, 2009

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