By: Sheila Gibson Stoodley
The 2010 Outsider Art Fair will take place Feb. 5–7 at 7 West 34th Street off of Fifth Avenue, returning to the venue it moved to last year. Among the nearly 40 exhibitors of works by artists who received little or no formal artistic training will be the Luise Ross Gallery of New York, which will bring a major piece by Minnie Evans, Untitled, priced at $40,000. The North Carolina artist, who died in 1987, created the lush, colorful 20- by 24-inch work in an unorthodox way: She rendered the top part in watercolor and crayon, and collaged other paintings onto the paperboard to form the lower left, lower center and lower right. As a result, Untitled carries three different dates, ranging from 1946–68. “I don’t know how many she made like this,” says Ross. “It’s quite an achievement that she could put it together.” Ross will also have a second Evans, an untitled work from 1943, offered at $12,000. It is notable for its asymmetry, a characteristic rarely seen in an Evans.
Just Folk of Summerland, Calif., will bring several animal figures by woodcarver Elijah Pierce, as well as his Couple Dancing, a relief that dates to July 1972. “Pierce was one of the few Outsider artists of the 20th century who was recognized while he was alive,” says the gallery’s Susan Baerwald, who notes that he earned a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., two years before he died in 1984. Though Couple Dancing features a frame, he carved it as a single piece. Just Folk is asking $18,000 for it.
Sister Gertrude Morgan’s God Said I Triumphed will be offered by Gilley’s Gallery, a Baton Rouge, La., dealer, for $27,750. The circa 1966 piece was made with crayon, watercolor and tempera and has a title that references a passage from the book of Exodus. “Her works were actually her visual aids for teaching,” says Eric Gilley, director of the gallery, explaining that Morgan would hang them on a nearby wall and occasionally point to them with what she called a “tapper stick” during her sermons. In God Said I Triumphed, Morgan appears to have included herself as a bride in white, surrounded by a host of dark-haired angels and standing next to a red-haired man who is meant to be Jesus Christ.
Ricco Maresca Gallery, which has attended all 17 previous editions of the Outsider Art Fair, will display several pieces by Martín Ramírez as well as contemporary works by Hiroyuki Doi, a Tokyo-based artist that the New York gallery began showing in 2009. Doi uses a fine pen to create alluring black-and-white abstracts built out of countless circles, some as small as a mustard seed. Most of Doi’s offerings will be priced between $5,000 and $40,000. “Each year he’s developing as an artist,” says gallery cofounder and principal Roger Ricco. “These are much more dense than what I saw in earlier pictures. He’s put a lot more little circles in. They’re almost galaxy-like cloud clusters.”