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Yayoi Kusama’s Legacy, And The Vast Future Ahead

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Auriel Schmidt shows the dark side of reality

Perception Destruction by Rodger Cardinal

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JJ Cromer Spills the Paint

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McDonald’s To Add Chicken Wings To Menu

Slinkachu’s Tiny Created Worlds

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Mainstream Outsider Phenomenon Jean Dubuffet

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69 Blind Artist James Castle Shows New Realities


James Cockington Contemporary art is notoriously difficult to shift on the secondary market; work by relatively unknown artists even more so. Yet Peter Fay’s collection, to be sold next Wednesday through Shapiro in Sydney, could prove to be the exception to this rule. Fay, a retired English teacher at The Kings School in Parramatta, specialised in collecting examples of outsider art. He’s now selling part of his collection because he’s moving to a smaller house in Tasmania. The art he’s offloading includes the early work of 2000 Archibald Prize winner Adam Cullen, as well as Pauline Hall.

That’s Pauline Hall, a housewife from Cronulla who only ever knitted from a pattern and whose latent talents were discovered by Fay. He encouraged her by suggesting she throw away the patterns and knit him a cup and saucer. Her response was: “Do you want a teacup or coffee cup?”

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He later commissioned a complete baked dinner, which was exhibited at the 2008 Royal Easter Show. It proved so popular, it was given its own display area. Typically, Hall knitted some candles for the table, lit and with dripping woolen “wax”. This extraordinary work is one of the features of the sale.

Fay says he had no idea what value to give it and left that decision to auctioneer Andrew Shapiro. He suggested estimates of $800 to $1200. But how can you put a value on such work? Listed are 83 works - on paper, paintings, sculpture, ceramics and photography. “I have a strong belief in rattling the cage,” Fay wrote in the Home Sweet Home catalogue. “I want to get people asking, ‘Why is that here? Why is that art and that not?’ Outsider artists have as much to give as established, or insider, artists.” Fay has been seriously collecting this genre since 1983, although he recalls buying his first piece while teaching

in Leeds, England, in the mid-’70s. He bought a painting from a local amateur art show because it was the least-sophisticated work on display. A few one-owner auctions of modern Australian art have done well in recent years, notably the Sydney sale of Dr Ann Lewis’s estate in November 2011. An estimated 1500 attended the auction and paid more than $4 million in total for her collection, with some lots scoring five to 10 times their estimates. Fay is not expecting similar results. “I would be very surprised,” he says. “The art world is so fickle. There are a lot of people out there with burnt fingers. I’m the last person to ask about all that.”

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works of fantasy Alissa MacMillan Outside the world of high culture and a universe away from art institutions, the 20th century saw the creation of another sort of art, wrought by men and women committed to asylums, and those in total isolation. They were artists with little connection to society, whose work fascinated and awed the art world. Beginning today, a selection of this “outsider art” is on display in “ABCD: A Collection of Art Brut,” at the Museum of American Folk Art. The entire show includes works fitting visionary collector Jean Dubuffet’s definition of “art brut,” or raw art. Co-curators Brooke Anderson and Jenifer Borum brought about 10% of the 1,000 works in Art Brut Connaissance & Diffusion’s Paris collection to New York for this exhibition, which, being primarily European, was a unique fit for an American folk museum. “All of this artwork [in the exhibit] was made without the influence of high culture,” says Anderson, “and that is not unlike what we call contemporary folk art, the work that we have been collecting in the museum.” Call them outsiders, folk, visionary or idiosyncratic, but, as Anderson explains, “the constant thread is that the maker is selftaught and working outside of that fine-art academy.” The museum also seeks to expand its international collection, and in this case, Anderson and Borum set out to explore French artist Dubuffet’s own journey toward his collection of art brut. “Our first criteria was artistic excellence,” she explains, and the exhibit leaves little doubt about that aim. The works are highly figurative and representational while seemingly intimate in their preoccupation with line and design.

Pieces by Aloise Corbaz, who was in a Swiss asylum because of her obsession with the Kaiser, and works by psychic Madge Gill are on display, as are remarkable pieces by Adolf Wolfli, who “created an entirely other world for himself, an imaginary character that is this whole fictitious life,” says Anderson. In her 60s, Czech-born Anna ZemBnkovB created intricate works using pencil on paper and cut paper. A large watercolor illustration by well-known American isolationist Henry Darger portrays an eerie fantasy world, and Edmund Monsiel’s stunning pencil drawings fill every last bit of space with surreal, dark faces. Pictured is"The Path of Venus" by Aloise Corbaz

"Works of Fantasy" show at the Museum of American Folk Art, Columbus Ave. between 65th and 66th Sts. Free, Tues.Sun. 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.


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themes as “the transmigration of the soul, the cosmos, the coexistence of living creatures, human cells, human dialogue and peace”.

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Edward Gomez In the outsider art field, often the modesty of an artist’s materials or art-making methods belies the depth or breadth of his or her oeuvre’s grandest, most serious themes. (Think of Adolf Wölfli’s creation of the universe rendered with colored pencils, or Jimmy Lee Sudduth’s finger paintings made with mud, found pigments or house paint on wood scraps.) Sometimes, too, an artist might set out to address a big, weighty subject, only to do so with what appear to be the most humble stylistic or technical means. The inherent incongruence or tension in this relationship between selftaught artists’ aesthetic or intellectual objectives and their available or chosen means is one of outsider art’s common characteristics. In Japan, the 67-year-old, self-taught artist , a former master chef who worked in some of Tokyo’s top restaurants, has been making abstract drawings in ink on paper for several decades. Since his art first emerged on the international scene in a solo exhibition at the now-defunct Phyllis Kind Gallery in New York in 2002, Doi’s compositions, which are made up of little more than dense groupings of tiny black circles, have become increasingly complex in form and ever more expansive in the themes they have addressed. Doi described the evolution of his art during an interview at his home and studio earlier this year. His small, plantfilled workspace is located in the Asakusa district of northeastern Tokyo. Doi observed that, for him, “using circles to produce images has provided soothing relief from the sadness and grief” he has felt since the death, many years ago, of his youngest brother from a brain tumour. Since then, Doi has created works that have alluded, as he puts it, to such

He feels strongly about art that reveals the touch of its maker’s hand; that is to say, he believes that the most soulful, expressive artworks do let viewers know that they were made by fellow humans, not by machines. Doi’s creations are the opposite of those contemporary art products whose designer-marketers strive to eliminate any evidence of the touch of the human hand in their finished offerings, which they do not hand-craft themselves, but instead send out to fabricators to manufacture according to their specifications. “I want to create works that will convey to future generations a message about the importance of this human touch, not only in art, but in all communication in general”, Doi explained.

Déborah Couette Three years after launching Hey! Magazine in March 2010, Anne and Julien continue to explore the margins, the underground, the international alternative scene. For the second time, you can discover in person their ‘cabinet of the curiosities of the XXIst century’ in Halle Saint-Pierre. Some 300 works by 60 artists, most from the United States and Japan, are exhibited without thematic decoupage. Within this ‘temporary autonomous artistic zone,’ artists talk about death, sex, additions, and fraudulent beliefs. If these creations are found on the margins of learned art, we should note that it is a fertile source for artists who are more frequently autodidacts. Bruegel;s and Eyck’s universes are revisited by Joe Coleman, Mike Davis and Tom Huck; Lucan Cranach’s strange bodies find an echo in the Heather Nevay’s figurative painting; the Apocalypse forms the backcloth of both Frédérick Voisin’s engravings and Norbert H. Kox’s paintings. Masami Teraoka transposes the Japanese prints ukiyo-e on the European old masters’ traditional religious triptychs creating in doing so blasphemous works.

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The exhibition shows a diversity of media and techniques: Gérard Bron paints portraits on earthenware, Kate Clark seizes the taxidermy technique in order to give life to her ‘humanimaux,’ Choi Xooang creates hyper realistic sculptures, Beb-Deum takes over digital techniques whereas Jim Kulll weaves, knits and assembles threads, pearls and tea bags to create skulls... Dance of death. Beside these underestimated artists, there is room for old and more famous artists: Félicien Rops and Joel-Peter Witkin. Let’s admit it, Hey! doesn’’t despirse either the famous or the academic. Anne and Julien call themselves ‘treasure hunters.’


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Andrew Taylor Leon Sorensen’s crudely executed pen drawings such as Dream of Bathers are scrawled on cheap paper, but Professor Colin Rhodes, dean of the Sydney College of the Arts, says the Danish artist’s depiction of families and lovers, some of which are explicit, are beautiful. Sorensen creates art in a workshop for people with intellectual and learning disabilities. He is one of 12 selftaught and outsider artists whose work Rhodes has collected for the Self-Taught and Outsider Art Research Collection on display at the SCA’s Callan Park Gallery. Ian Gold’s paintings, in contrast, are abstract, but Rhodes says they are “coming out of places and experiences of the artist”. “There’s an interesting mix of stuff,” Rhodes says. “The really inyour-face big sculpture by Phil through to relatively small, quite simple pen and wash drawings.” Conserving works like Sorensen’s drawings can be a challenge since they are created with substandard materials and are not intended for display.“There’s a certain level of subjectivity to

it,” Rhodes says. “People see something on crappy paper and don’t want to look at it.” Rhodes began acquiring artworks by self-taught and outsider artists in 2008 with the aim of amassing a repository that could be studied, and opened the gallery the following year. He says outsider art is created by people without formal art training and who often live on the margins of society. They may have physical, mental or learning disabilities like Gold and Sorensen, or just work outside what Rhodes describes as “the structures of the art world”. Rhodes says outsider art is not a hobby, but is created by people who make art compulsively. “They are people who are absolutely committed to a practice, even though that’s not a word they would use.” Outsider art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 to describe art brut (raw art), a term created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art that had not been spoiled by culture. One aim of the collection is to promote outsider art, but Rhodes says the works stand on their own merits. “It’s like any kind of art,” he says. “There’s great stuff, awful stuff and a lot of OK stuff.” Self-Taught and Outsider Art Research Collection (Part 1) is on at Callan Park Gallery until July 25.

Mainstream outsiders

Jana Ambroyo It was a contradiction when Roger Cardinal first used the expression “outsider art” in 1972. Art, by implication, requires an informed aesthetic understanding, yet outsider art is made by people who, through mental or physical isolation, live beyond the reach of cultural conditioning. Admiration dates back to the mid-19th century when psychiatrists became aware that some of their patients were producing paintings and drawings of powerful intensity. In turn, the works influenced the avant garde of the early 20th century - artists such as Paul Klee and Jean Dubuffet who relished its “uncooked” nature, and started searching for it outside Europe’s asylums. It began to turn up across the world, outpourings of creativity and imagination, like Nek Chand’s sculpture garden in Chandighar, or whole buildings such as Ferdinand Cheval’s Palais Ideal in France. Two exhibitions in London this summer suggest, in one way at least, it’s no longer outsider.

CATS, MICE AND HISTORY

By Ken Tucker Since 1980, a self-described ‘’graphix magazine’’ called Raw has published six installments of ‘’Maus,’’ a comic strip written and drawn by Art Spiegelman. In ‘’Maus,’’ Mr. Spiegelman recreates the experiences of his parents, Polish Jews who were persecuted by the Nazis during World War II. A remarkable feat of documentary detail and novelistic vividness, the strip is also striking in another way: its protagonists are drawn as mice; their Nazi captors are represented as cats. The drawing in ‘’Maus’’ is blunt and unadorned. Characters are sketched with a few lines in black-andwhite panels and shaded with the most elementary crosshatching. As art, Mr. Spiegelman says, ‘’Maus’’ is intentionally simple: ‘’seeing these small pages of doodle drawings rough, quick drawings - makes it seem like we found somebody’s diary and are publishing facsimiles of it.’’ The cartoonist Jules Feiffer, the author of the ‘’The Great Comic Book Heroes,’’ observes that Mr. Spiegelman has ‘’found a new way to express a unique and personal view of life. He is by no means pretentious and yet absolutely true to the form.’’ Mr. Spiegelman’s characters stand, dress and speak as humans; they just happen to have long, narrow, white, mouse faces. Why mice? ‘’A few years ago I was looking at a lot of animated cartoons from the 1920’s and 30’s, and I was struck

6 by the fact that, in many of them, there was virtually no difference between the way mice and black people were drawn. This got me thinking about drawing a comic strip that used mice in a metaphor for the black experience in America. Well, two minutes into it, I realized that I didn’t know the first thing about being black, but I was Jewish, and I was very aware of the experiences of my parents in World War II, so that pushed me in that direction. ‘’What amazed me was that I have continued to find parallels, some of them painfully ironic, to this artistic metaphor. For example, in ‘Mein Kampf,’ Hitler refers to Jews as ‘vermin.’ I saw a Nazi propaganda film in which shots of crowds of Jews in a busy marketplace were contrasted with shots of scurrying rats. There is also a short story by Kafka called ‘Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk’ which portrays Jews as mice. This is Mr. Spiegelman’s triumph in ‘’Maus’’: he tempts sentimentality by suggesting a pop-culture cliche - wide-eyed mice menaced by hissing cats -and then thoroughly denies that sentimentality with the sharp, cutting lines of his drawing and the terse realism of his dialogue. Bernard Riley says Mr. Spiegelman ‘’takes underground comics into new territory, making comics over into a kind of psycho-history, with highly literary and meticuloWWusly observed autobiography.’’


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Donald Kuspit For one year, from February 1983 to February 1984, Jean Dubuffet (190185) painted nothing but what he called Mires (Test Patterns). He then followed them, for the rest of 1984, with a series he called Non-Lieux (No-Grounds). Works from both series are on display at the Pace Gallery, suggesting their affinity. Boldly gestural, both have a swashbuckling, free-form look, although the Mires’ gestures sometimes seem to form faces and figures, resembling children’s drawings, and sometimes loosely align in a grid, while the NonLieux works seem more chaotically “instinctive,” and also anguished. They seem more from the “dark side,” as their black areas suggest, however overrun by red, white and blue streaks, quixotically interlocking in an unstable pattern, while the more tightly constructed Mires, with their luminous red, white and blue, seem lyrical in comparison. Indeed, some of the Mires allude to the bolero, as their subtitles indicate, a lively Spanish dance in triple meter. A bolero is also a waist-length jacket open in front, typically worn by bullfighters, suggesting the confrontational daring of Dubuffet’s painterly handling. But however delightful and fanciful the Mires and dramatic and

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Mainstream outsider takes on culture

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morbid the Non-Lieux, both stem from Dubuffet’s longstanding interest in graffiti: they are street art elevated to high art abstract expressionism, more broadly arte informal. The “indeterminacy” and “disorder” of the Mires links them to Dubuffet’s Texturologies and Materiologies, as Daniel Abadie noted when they were first exhibited at Pace in 1985. All three involve what Abadie called Dubuffet’s “ambition to create a meta-language [of visual art] with its own rules and syntax free of any habitual mind-set, thereby eluding both the sneaky subliminal conditioning of the culture and established social norms, in which the painter discerns the same reductive power, the same refusal of any independent adventure of the mind.” Neither is as “indeterminate” as they are thought to be, however “instinctive” they may be: but the instincts have their own determinate character. Dubuffet hasn’t escaped culture, neither street culture nor the culture of high art, but rather confirms their inability to be escaped. Even his credo is culturally conditioned and ratified avant-garde gospel, a supposedly independent “speaking out” that has become tediously dependent on visual clichés, as his paintings are. They are not the fantastic “riddles” they claim to be, but are among the many pretenders to the throne of an imperialistic avant-garde institution that has seen better days. Dubuffet is the prisoner of a naive, hidebound psychology an ideologized psychology as well as avant-garde (both suffering from a hardening of the creative arteries) because it involves an obsolete, simplistic idea of the mind’s relationship to being, the reality that is beyond it even as it participates in it.


james castle

Karen Wilkin "A riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma" Winston Churchill's famous description of Russia could easily apply to the fascinating, self-taught artist James Castle (1899—1977). Born in a small, remote Idaho farming community and profoundly deaf from birth, Castle was unimaginably isolated, in every way. Although he spent five years at a school for the deaf, he neither acquired language nor, for practical purposes, learned to read. He left school without any way of communicating or of supporting himself in the hearing world. If Castle was trapped in silence, at least one other sense­ his sight seemed to become more acute. Making images was his way of coming to terms with both the world around him and his inner life, a means of discovery, possession and communication. His family made it possible for Castle to spend his time obsessively making art. The result? An enormous and astonishingly inventive body of work– drawings, paintings, assemblages, collages, textbased works, and handmade books that offers a glimpse into a private world and remains, ultimately, unknowable and inexplicable. First brought to the attention of the public in the early 1960s, Castle has become something of a cult figure, acquiring a growing number of admirers in the ensuing decades without becoming any less puzzling or surprising. His full achievement is currently celebrated by "James Castle: A Retrospective," at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through Jan. 4, an impeccably selected show organized by Ann Percy.

The farm on which Castle spent his first 23 years seems to have been his recurring subject, with the farmyard often depicted with strange "totems" towering above the meticulously rendered farmhouses, barns and outbuildings. There are barn interiors that turn the complexities of beams, siding and stalls into near-Cubist geometry; bedroom interiors that itemize wallpaper patterns and details of furniture; as well as rooms populated with stylized figures who may be real people or may be images of Castle's constructed cardboard figures. The retrospective enlarges our understanding of Castle's work, but unanswerable questions remain. The farm landscapes and interiors are rendered as coherent three-dimensional spaces. How does a man who cannot hear or speak, with no art training, whose "visual culture," in the current phrase, consisted exclusively of magazines and newspapers, comic strips and advertising art, master perspective on his own? Castle appears not to have been able to read or write he could sign his name and seemed to grasp a connection between himself and the word "Jimmy" yet he covered sheets with alphabets and words, treating letters as "abstract" forms but occasionally deploying words in ways that seem to make meaning or sound significant. There are no answers to these questions, but it doesn't matter. Even more than Castle's moving story, and the moody poetry of his work commands our attention.

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fireflies on the water At The Whitney

Jeffrey Sarmiento There’s no denying Yayoi Kusama’s love of polka-dots. She dreams about them, wears them, paints them, and constructs them. So it’s not surprising that ahead of her upcoming retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the famous Japanese contemporary artist is showing a new dotted-light installation titled “Fireflies on the Water.” Built inside a small room with mirrors on all sides, the exhibit consists of 150 minuscule lights suspended over a small pool. Search for a point of focus in the endless mirage of reflections

all you’ll see is a shadow version of yourself reflected back. “Fireflies” is not so different from Kusama’s past work, as it builds on her hallucinatory approaches and psychedelic space conceptions. Like “Obliteration Room” and “Infinity Mirror Room,” it showcases her love of unnerving darkness and fascination for infinite space. But the newer work embodies a more tranquil version of her obsessions, perhaps marking a more peaceful period in the artist’s vision-driven career. Kusama’s “Fireflies on the Water” will be on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art starting June 13th.

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Homage to Henri Rousseau

The World of Naive Painters and Outsiders Jordan C. Sievers Tax collector-turned-Post-Impressionist artist, Henri Rousseau was a self-taught painter known for his Naive works. Though it took time for his style, which was often described as simplistic and childlike, to be accepted by art critics, he helped pave the way for other talented untrained artists. Now often referred to as Outsider art, such artists’ work is considered a genre in itself, and today’s Outsider artists include those using art as therapy for mental afflictions or disabilities as well as the untrained. This show features more than 100 works from artists such as Rousseau, Joan Mira, Max Ernst and Yayoi Kusama; Sept. 14-Nov. 10.


Irina Aleksander Aurel Schmidt, the mixed-media artist, was in her East Village studio apartment, running her fingers over a patch of black hair that had been pasted to the head of a stick figure drawing. ‘’This is my boyfriend’s chest hair,’’ said the 28-year-old, with her trademark side-swept blond hair and exaggerated round glasses. ‘’No, wait,’’ she said, correcting herself a moment later, as she pointed to another drawing, this one with human hair for eyebrows. ‘’This is my boyfriend’s chest hair.’’ And who can keep it all straight when Ms. Schmidt has built a career out of assembling the detritus of her loose life_ coffee, lipstick, Corona bottle caps, Winston cigarettes, crushed Modelo beer cans, Hershey Kisses, Klonopin capsules, Trojan condom wrappers and turning it into art.

It can be difficult to tell which parts of Ms. Schmidt are sincere and which are meant to be a clever comment, a joke that we’re all missing. Her big round glasses seem more like a parody of the tired geek trend than the thing itself.

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Likewise, the abundance of seminude photos of her (like the one used as a background on her Web site, aurelschmidt.com) are, according to Ms. Schmidt, not to be taken literally.‘’If I am being purposefully sexy or sleazy in photos,’’ she added, ‘’I’m doing it in a very self-aware way. People say if you want to be taken seriously as a female artist, you shouldn’t do that. So I’m like, ‘O.K., I’ll wear a pink dress and show my vagina.’ ‘’ Ms. Schmidt’s contradictions, playfully mocking the things that make up her world the downtown boys’ art club, popular fashion, Mr. Zahm’s naked girls are perhaps indicative of her efforts to appear as an outsider, even as some of her works sell for upward of $25,000. She refuses to sign with a gallery, a decision she made after discovering the pitfalls of having too much success. Though she had no formal art training (she curtailed her studies after high school), Ms. Schmidt participated in her first group show in 2006 at the Spencer Brownstone Gallery in SoHo. Less than a year later, she had a show at the Peres Projects gallery in Los Angeles, and Mr. Deitch was offering her a solo show along with a work studio in Long Island City. ‘’There was a point where I had assistants and the studio Jeffrey gave me and all this stuff,’’ Ms. Schmidt

said. ‘’I don’t know if I was making more work, but I was feeling totally stressed out that everything I made was somehow his.”It didn’t make me feel creative.”

Raw Energy Girly Side

Her latest series, ‘’Drug Voodoo Dolls,’’ covers the walls of her apartment, a tiny rectangular space with grated windows and nowhere to sit except for a vintage school desk. A hybrid of childlike sketches and found objects, the series is a joyful reminder of the crude energy, at once repulsive and cute, that caught the attention of Jeffrey Deitch, who handpicked her for a solo show in 2008,

and the Whitney Museum, which featured her in its Biennial last year.

Ms. Schmidt now works out of her apartment and handles her own business transactions, personally selecting buyers for her drawings. The artist chooses patrons that will make her work more visible. ‘’You want to sell to someone who is going to show it or lend it,’’ Ms. Schmidt said, which includes foundations and collectors known for lending to museums. In the fall, she plans to exhibit her ‘’Drug Voodoo Doll’’ series in a solo show, without assistance from a commercial gallery, of course. ‘’I’ll just find a space and do it kind of punk rock in that way,’’ Ms. Schmidt said. ‘’It would be so cool. I wouldn’t even have a price list.’’


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JJ R C R OME


RAW: First off, I had no idea you were named after Audubon. Does his work appeal to you? J.J. CROMER: Audubon's work was always around in my home growing up. My mother is a long-time bird watcher. We always did yearly Audubon bird counts. (Both she and my father were science teachers in secondary schools.) On our coffee table we had big books of Audubon reproductions. We also had a stuffed Roseate Spoonbill in the living room, which I would studiously compare to Audubon's image. Who knows how much arsenic I inhaled examining that spoonbill. As a kid I would copy and trace his drawings all the time. I loved the natural world. I also loved cartoons and monsters, so more times than not I was mashing up Charles Schulz, or famous monsters of filmland, with Audubon. There's no direct influence these days, though I am a fan of Walton Ford. Occasionally I do cut up Audubon reproductions for collage elements. I've glued down quite a few Passenger Pigeons.

RAW: You mention that you feel your work is intuitive and you like it best when your mind is elsewhere while drawing? Is it in some ways a meditative state for you? JJC: I've got my go-to media and stacks of paper, but I definitely favor mistakes over technical skill, improvisation over routine. I listen to music or audiobooks while I draw. I've been listening to a lot of crime fiction recently: Henning Mankell, Benjamin Black, Ruth Rendell, Ian Rankin, Tana French are current favorites. I find stories are good at keeping the resident mental faultfinder occupied. Solving a murder is generally more important than looking over my shoulder and condemning my art efforts. So as I draw I'm doing both: I'm worried about Kurt Wallander's health and the case, as well as laughing and mucking about in my psyche. It is strangely meditative. Time zooms by, and pieces stack up. RAW: Your "Asterik Men" are based on Piltdown or Nebraska man, a major paleontological hoax. Tell me a little about what this story meant to you and how it inspired your work. JJC: Ever since I was a kid, I've been a big fan of all things Fortean, sideshow, conspiratorial, spooky. Regarding Asterisk Man I guess I liked the idea of this fleshy stick figure factoring into human evolution somehow. As you can see I didn't get the science gene from my parents. In my next life though I'd like to be a scientist. A cryptozoologist! On a side note: the Piltdown Man memorial stone in East Essex looks like an Asterisk Man enshrouded. Or a penis enshrouded, one or the other. I did hear that an Asterisk tooth was recently discovered under a rock in Yunnan province.

RAW: You are a librarian by training, correct? JJC: Yes. I've been a children's librarian, as well as a reference librarian. I've worked in public and academic libraries.

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RAW: How would you describe the mood of your paintings?

JJC: I think the mood of my artwork is more playful than not. When I work as a librarian I have to provide clear information, unambiguous answers. Patrons generally don't want the Oracle of Delphi sitting behind the reference desk. As an artist I'd much rather communicate playfully, with a laugh, through questions and ambiguity and confusion.

RAW: Which pieces use your childhood stamp collection for collage material? JJC: Most. Recently I've been buying stamps too, big topical collections: one hundred airplanes, two hundred cats, one thousand boats‌

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RAW: What do numbers represent if anything in your work? JJC: Numbers are strong, confident characters who occasionally crash the party. I don't understand them. I just think they're attractive and I'm happy to have them around. During the last couple years, every time I use numbers and phrases in my work it's always with my father in mind. I started using them shortly after he moved into a retirement home. He quit teaching for a couple years to be a sign painter (this was in the 1980s). He took manila folders and drew out alphabets and numbers and punctuation marks, and made stencils. He was very precise, creating all kinds of fonts, styles, sizes. When it was time for the retirement home he was going to throw it all away. I took it home instead. My wife and I try to visit him once or twice a month. She's extraordinarily generous and positive towards him, and he usually reciprocates. My relationship with him is difficult. The stencils make it a little less difficult. Regarding the phrases, one thing my father and I both shared, at least when I was a child, was a love of neologisms and related nonsense. He was skilled at interjecting quick, barely observable nonsense into conversations. It was quick enough to always momentarily bewilder whoever was listening. He also did a lot of amateur clowning. As a child I often accompanied him. He painted me up, put a wig and funny clothes on me, and I either carried around this one-man-band contraption or I rode around on my Big Wheel honking a horn. In my memory, he was often this trickster character. I guess I hope my art, particularly the ones with my father in mind, has a little of that same trickster attitude.

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RAW: Do you think it's possible for artists to over think their work? How much "thinking" versus "feeling" goes into your pieces?

RAW: What's are your tool or tools of trade? Ink? Paint?

JJC: Feeling is probably more important to me. As an artist I think I'm creating this giant shaggy dog story. I'm moving as quickly as I can from piece to piece, not worrying at all about end punctuation. I do often look back at old drawings to find loose threads, dropped ideas, but each piece always springs from the one just before. I also cut up a lot of old drawings to reconfigure into new work. Otherwise I need to keep moving forward, to keep making marks. All in all it's really just about the pleasure of drawing, chasing that shaggy dog. And I like watching work pile up around me. Art making is personally meaningful, and it's a lot of fun. I'm very happy when someone else likes what I'm doing. I appreciate all the opportunities to show my work, and I've met a lot of wonderful people through my work, but I'm not driven to think about what might please an audience. Drawing for me is creating a world, mapping it, and losing myself in it, all at the same time. Maybe I'll look back one of these days and see some clearly defined oeuvre. Or a big mess, I don't know. I do know I can't imagine not drawing. It's vital; it helps me move through the world. Regarding other artists: I defer to the critics.

RAW: You're highly connected to nature and live in a rural area correct? How does this influence you or your art?

JJC: I work mostly with ink, colored pencils, acrylics, and collage on paper.

JJC: Yes, we are happily deep in the boonies! My wife Mary is an environmental attorney focusing on coal mining issues. She works for a small nonprofit called Appalachian Citizens' Law Center, based in Whitesburg, Kentucky. They serve individuals and groups adversely affected by the industry. She often works collaboratively with other nonprofits like Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance. We live on a small farm in central Appalachia, in Pound, Virginia. We try to raise as much food as we can; every year we grow more and more. Central Appalachia is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. I've been told we have more varieties of trees on our farm than are native to the entire United Kingdom. Up on a ridge near our farm though we can look one way and it's beautiful and lush and we can look the other way and it's completely mined and homogeneously scrubby. (Reclamation usually means minimal contouring and then covering the mined land with some mono-culture like autumn olive, which is non-native and highly invasive.) Our farm didn't have water for fifteen years. It had to be trucked in weekly, bottled water for drinking, a cistern for all other uses. Mining had sunk the wells. Occasionally our house shakes from blasting at a mountaintop removal mine a mile or so away. The economy around here is predominately resource extraction (timber and coal). Environmental concerns related to these practices are inextricable from social justice concerns. "Friends of Coal" stickers are everywhere, on businesses and cars and trucks. It's a very poor area, and coal isn't doing very well. It's nearly depleted and what's left is hard to get to, often requiring the removal of mountaintops to get to very thin layers (filling valleys and poisoning water in the process). A recent report indicates very high rates of cancer near such mining sites. These issues are definitely important to us. I admire a lot of propagandistic art. Sue Coe is amazing. But I can't do it. I can't create art that overtly addresses political, social, and economic issues. I've tried and failed. Central Appalachia definitely needs a Sue Coe. I think I've got a good, solid liberal worldview. I believe this is reflected in my work, but it's rarely the focus. It's more a pervading spirit. My drive as an artist is more oneiric than propagandistic, more "psychonaut" than activist.


RAW: How do you like raising bees? JJC: It's a lot of fun. Mary and I are new beekeepers. We have four hives, all of them currently healthy and happy. Knock on wood. Our bee mentor, by the way, is Frank Taylor. He's an actor, longtime beekeeper, and all-round nice guy. He's been in a lot of movies and television shows, probably most notably as the outsider artist in Junebug. Currently he's working on a television show for the Sundance Channel called Rectify. Frank just helped us extract some honey, our first batch. Three gallons or so. It's very exciting. RAW: How do you feel when people call your work "folk" or "outsider" art? JJC: Generally positive, but they're not labels I apply to myself. I don't have formal art training, so "selftaught" is probably the best fit. Otherwise, I don't think about it that much. Having said that, I do love the work of many artists who are also identified (at least by the market they usually show up in) as "folk" or "outsider" or "self-taught." Mose Tolliver, Howard Finster, Malcolm Mckesson, Nellie Mae Rowe, Albert Louden, Charlie Lucas, Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Christine Sefolosha, Minnie Evans, Domenico Zindato, Mary Smith, the list could go on and on. Incredible.

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RAW: If you could only draw one thing for the rest of your life what would it be? JJC: Probably one of my Asterisk. I reckon there are countless ways to draw it: short and tattooed; gangly with a fat head; thick thighed; monochromatic; multi-colored; and so on. As well as countless ways to group them. I guess it's a little like a writer just wanting to write the letter "A" over and over again, each time a little different. Is that a strange drive? I don't know, but I could do it. An Asterisk alone could keep me happily occupied for years. Pieces featured in this article in order of appearance: Untitled (with Steve Loya) Loengraph 12 Loengraph 11 Loengraph 10 Loengraph 18 Courtesy of the artist


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114 Ave & 21 Street, New York, NY

114 Ave & 21 Street, New York, NY

h 114 Ave & 21 Street, New York, NY

opening gala 3 days

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114 Ave & 21 Street, New York, NY


SLI NK AC HU 18


Why is it so hard to find a job? - Guard

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By Tom Lamont Not the case for artists Slinkachu and Isaac Cordal, who specialise in "miniature street sculpture": for them the biggest dangers are roadsweepers, heavy-shoed pedestrians and jackdaws. Since 2006 this London-based artist has been installing tiny dioramas in cities around the world, taking photographs – then leaving his work to be kicked or ignored or taken away.

real mona lisa 77cm slinkachu mona lisa 3cm


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Why is it so hard to find a job? - Teacher

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real teacher 1.7m slinkachu’s teacher 16cm


Why is it so hard to find a job? - Scientist

water molecule 225 picometers

slinkachu’s molecule 6 centimeters

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23 lunch atop a skyscraper 700m

slinkachu’s lunch 1m

Why is it so hard to find a job? - Construction Worker


YAYOI beverly kane gallery woodbridge, ct 203.387.5700

Raw Vision Redesign  

For my Editorial Design class, we were tasked with redesigning a magazine. I chose Raw Vision, a magazine about Outsider art.

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