Art by outsiders

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Andrew Moore is what many academics would call an “outsider artist.” He doesn’t have traditional training in art, but he feels compelled to express himself using whatever means he has at his disposal. Reporter Nikki Tundel put together a compelling look at his work, and what it means to him.

Outsider artists often make the rest of us feel uncomfortable. Their work is raw, and they don’t just hang it on clean gallery walls. Art is their life, and it seeps out everywhere.

Take outsider artist Mari Newman. Like Moore, Newman builds large installations in her front yard in Minneapolis, which inspired some complaints to the city. While some neighbors love the bright colors and creativity of her work, others thought it ruined the resale value of their homes.

While outsider artists may sometimes be difficult to live with, their work often has great value and prestige in the art market. There are collectors who specialize in buying work by such “non-trained” artists, and they do a good business.

Unfortunately outsider artists often don’t get the full benefit of the popularity of their work. Local artist Donovan Durham learned that when he discovered that work he made as a child was being sold at a high-profile art show, and he wasn’t getting any of the proceeds.

Some work by outsider artists end up becoming cultural monuments. Take Watts Towers in Los Angeles.

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Watts Towers was built by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia. Over his lifetime Rodia made a complex of seventeen sculptures, using simple tools. The towers are constructed of steel and mortar, and decorated with bits of broken glass, pottery and see shells. Now people come from all over to visit Rodia’s creation.

  • The Kohler Foundation in Wisconsin works hard to protect and preserve the site specific work of self-taught artists, particularly artist environments.

    http://www.kohlerfoundation.org/sites1.html

    Most of these places are open to the public and wonderful to visit.