Posted on February 07, 2010
Let the Museums have their Picassos and Raphaels, their Monets and Renoirs. This weekend in New York, attention is on the unknowns at the Sanford Smith Outsider Art Fair (Feb. 5-7). The fair includes almost 40 exhibitors from both New York and abroad, with lectures and events organized by The American Folk Art Museum. The event began 18 years ago as a way of recognizing an overlooked and unheralded market—art created outside of mainstream society. The artists are generally untrained or self-taught, and often work in primitive styles. Presenters include New York’s Fountain Gallery, a not-for-profit cooperative highlighting works by artists living with mental illness; St. Louis’ Galerie Bonheur, which is focusing on the work of late Bahamian artist Amos Ferguson; and Galerie St. Etienne, which has a history of exhibiting works by artists who have gone on to gain fame in the mainstream art world, such as Grandma Moses. What can you expect to see? Well, one artist showed up at the opening event wearing a coat she had made from human hair. Another uses trash boxes found in his work as a janitor. And another makes handbags out of Ramen Noodle packets. There’s even a work made entirely of beads, sewn by Haitian artist who lost all her material possessions in the recent earthquake in Haiti. The fair is located at 7 West 34th Street, near Fifth Avenue; today (Sunday) it runs from 11 am to 6 pm. Sanford Smith and Associates can be reached at (212) 777-5218. The American Folk Art Museum can be reached at (212) 265-1040. So come on, what’s the Superbowl compared to this?