Presented by Intuitive Eye in collaboration with 14 Pews
Outsider artists are often thought of as isolated and reclusive, avoiding contact and communication with the world in which they live on the fringe. Their art is often personal and private. However, this is not always the case. PLAIN SIGHT presents the work of three artists who instead create their art in the public space. It explores the idea of the outsider artist who engages with the world in a purposeful way, either by presenting his art for public viewing or by simply being out among others where he and his work can be encountered by those fortunate enough to happen upon it.
The artists included in the exhibition include:
Paul Darmafall aka The Baltimore Glassman (1925-2003)
Working by a busy stretch of Baltimore roadway, Paul Darmafall created glittering works of art made of shards of found broken glass fashioned into rough mosaic and collaged images. Supplemented with cryptic text, Darmafall thought of his pieces as “roadside signs” which were meant to communicate to the viewer his thoughts on the subjects of independence, freedom, health and personal safety. He was perplexed by those who spoke of his work as art, only concerned with whether his idea had been conveyed. Even though he had a home and family, Darmafall preferred to spend most of his time “in the fresh air” where his health could be shielded from the electricity contained in the walls of this house. He sought to communicate these idiosyncratic ideas through his signs, but often said “I stand to be corrected”
Paul Darmafall’s eye catching signs are included in the permanent collection of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland and in many important private collections
Richard Gordon Kendall ( born about 1930, whereabouts unknown )
Richard Gordon Kendall lived most of his adult life homeless on the streets of Houston, Texas. When I encountered Kendall in the late 1990’s, he was in his sixties and had lived a hard life full of bad luck, poorer choices and it seemed an even bleaker future. Having reached what he called “retirement age” Kendall turned to drawing as a pastime with which to challenge his mind and occupy his time. As he walked the streets of downtown Houston, he carefully observed the various buildings surrounding him and then returned to his makeshift stairwell home to draw them from memory. He used paper salvaged from the trash and spent his meager funds on ballpoint pens, crayons and markers. With these he created his personal view of the world in which he lived. His buildings seem to exist in isolation, devoid of the people for whom they were built, perhaps embodying the life of the artist himself.
Richard Gordon Kendall’s drawings were most recently exhibited in a 2011 solo show entitled “On The Streets Where We Live” at d.m. allison Art in Houston, Texas. His work is included in several significant private collections.
“Remmy” (birthdate unknown-died 2008)
Around 2003, I began noticing assembled piles of refuse on the sidewalk and small bits of trash attached to trees and fences along a oft traveled corridor of Yale Street and Waugh Drive in Houston. I became curious and one day walked the route I usually drove to look at these things more closely. What I found were objects and assemblages which were obviously made by a purposeful human hand. A sparkling candy wrapper tied with a ribbon and affixed to a tree or a cardboard box filled with cans and paper that had been arranged in a pattern revealed themselves to my eye as I walked. However, no maker was present and I returned home intrigued. On subsequent trips, I began to notice a heavily bearded, obviously homeless, man gathering and manipulating trash by the roadside. I stopped a few times and he appeared to want to avoid contact. So I continued to watch and enjoy his ephemeral constructions from afar. Then in 2006, in the railroad trestle underpass on Yale Street, a large scale found object installation appeared. Backlit by the underpass lights, it was extraordinary. All manner of discarded materials had been reconfigured in what was now an art space. One evening my wife and I stopped and photographed the installation and encountered the artist, rolled up for the night in his magical environment. He only offered a few words in response to our appreciations. Later, it was all removed by trash collectors. After he was killed by a hit and run driver in 2008, I learned that “Remmy”, as he was known to a few neighborhood people, was described as a gentle, quiet, and friendly man.
The photographs presented as part of this exhibition were taken in 2006.
PLAIN SIGHT is currated by Jay Wehnert. He is Director of Intuitive Eye, an arts business he founded in 2011. He is involved in artist representation and development, art sales to individual collectors and institutions, exhibition curating, writing and arts education. He has been an art collector for over 25 years with a personal focus on Outsider, Visionary and Self Taught Art. Through Intuitive Eye he has expanded his interests to include contemporary artists with similar “outside of the mainstream” approaches or perspectives.