Vol. 12, Issue 2

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A.G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions

An interesting epithet emerges from one of Achilles G. Rizzoli’s masterful drawings, “Magnitude, Magnificence, and Manifestation.” All three are appropriate words to describe the architectural cityscapes the artist fashioned in his created world known as Y.T.T.E. (Yield To Total Elation). Born in Marin County, California in 1896, Rizzoli would lead his life in almost complete isolation with his mother after his father disappeared in 1915. (more…)

Recent and Anniversary Gifts to the Permanent Collection

Since its inauguration in 2002, Intuit’s permanent collection has grown considerably due to the ongoing generosity of our supporters. The collection demonstrates the complexity and dynamism of the artists that exemplify the fields of outsider, self-taught, and art brut. Artists represented in this exhibition include Martín Ramírez, Ted Ludwiczak, Eugene Andolsek, Alexander Maldonado, Old White Woman, Louis Monza, Eddie Arning, Howard Finster, and Betty Zakoian. To coincide with two prominent exhibitions occurring in the Midwest this fall, the traveling exhibition Martín Ramírez at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Intuit’s A.G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions, Intuit’s permanent collection will also feature a group of works dedicated to those artists who lived as immigrants in America or whose work was informed by their immigrant experience.

Lonnie Holley: Artist in Residence

Intuit is pleased to host its first artist in residence, Lonnie Holley, over a two week period as he creates a site-specific sculpture/environment/assemblage in Intuit’s Main Gallery using found and recycled materials, architectural salvage, and the detritus of human activity. The sculpture will evolve over Holley’s two week residency. Intuit has invited students of all ages, artists, and the general public to interact with Holley while he is creating. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Lonnie Holley became an artist in order to enact change in this world. Holley has stated, “Through my works I will try to leave enough information that children can still come onto this earth 50,000 years from now and learn how to take care of it.” The artist’s unique vision will undoubtedly transform Intuit’s gallery into a breathtaking experience.

Click here to hear a short piece on Lonnie Holley on Chicago Public Radio.

Vol. 11, Issue 3

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“Don’t Fence Me In”: The Art of Daniel Watson

Daniel Watson, Blue James Dean, 2006, Prismacolor colored pencil on museum board, 20 x 20 in., Courtesy of the artist

Don’t Fence Me In is the first solo exhibition for the artist and will feature sculpture and drawings that were created specifically for the show. Watson is well known for radiant and color-saturated portraits of American cultural icons, friends, and fellow inmates. Using an intricate cross-hatching technique with vibrant colors, Watson creates intense and arresting depictions of individuals that, he says, allow “the person, the real spirit, [to] come out in a meeting of equality with the viewer.”

Also on view will be the incredible body of sculptures Watson has created out of discarded citrus peels. Made from the skins of grapefruits, oranges, tangelos and tangerines that he retrieved from the garbage at the prison facility, the sculptures resemble imagery associated with Native American basket weaving.

Mary Donaldson, curator of the exhibition, will give a talk at Intuit on Saturday, January 20 at 11:00 am. An illustrated checklist with an essay by Donaldson will be available.

Donaldson writes: “The last thing Daniel Watson would want you to know about him is the first thing that most people find out – that he is incarcerated in the California penal system. What he has done since he got there is the subject of this exhibition.”

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Ken Grimes, Untitled (Japanese deflected asteroid), 2006, Acrylic on panel 48 x 72 in. Courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery

Ken Grimes’ art is characterized by his use of black and white acrylic on canvas and board. The stark quality of the white text or image on black background runs counter to the complex reality that his paintings seek to convey. That is, the simple images help explore the diverse registers of phenomenon in this universe that form a tantalizing web of connections and stratagems.

The “coincidence board” is Grimes’ own apt phrase for the uncanny coincidences that pervade our lives. In 1971 Grimes attempted to win the state lottery in Cheshire, Connecticut by using telepathy on the crowd gathered around the drawing site. Simultaneously, another Ken Grimes in Cheshire, England won a large sum of money in that country’s rendition of a lottery: the soccer pool.

Since Grimes’ fateful encounter in 1971, his “coincidence board” has considerably expanded. His pictorial investigations probe paranormal incidents from outer space. Alien visitations, crop circles, flying saucers, and space travel are all themes Grimes seeks to understand through collecting, examining, and evaluating their meaning in his paintings.

“Ken Grimes’ paintings reveal a passion closer to religious inspiration than political dogma or personal rant,” Charles Russell writes in the exhibition essay, “for what drives his work is a search for signs of a cosmic connection, a belief in the imminence of an unsettling truth, and a confidence that art can be an agent of revelation.”

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Singular Visions: Images of Art Brut from the Anthony J. Petullo Collection

Ramirez, Martin, Courtyard (#208), 1954, mixed media on paper, 40 1⁄2 x 36 in. / Right: Walla, August, Gericht!, 1990, acrylic on canvas, 78 x 63 in.

The forty-two works in this exhibition are from Anthony J. Petullo’s collection of European and American works by self-taught artists, loosely classified as Art Brut . Coined in the 1940s by French artist Jean Dubuffet, Art Brut (today often known by its English translation, “outsider art”) refers to works created by individuals with no formal art training and no consciousness of art world traditions.

Many of these artists produced their bodies of work while institutionalized, including Swiss artist Adolph Wölfli (1864-1930), who during his 35 years in an asylum created a massive volume of colorfully intricate compositions. Others were isolates and loners. For more than forty years Chicago artist Henry Darger (1892-1973) worked as a menial laborer, attended Catholic Mass, and lived in virtual isolation. This seemingly benign existence belied his keenly obsessive artistic output. His 15,000 page epic of good versus evil, “In The Realms Of The Unreal,” was illustrated with meticulous watercolors and was discovered by his landlord at the time of Darger’s departure for an elderly care facility. Artists such as Madge Gill were inspired to create by spiritual muses. Gill believed that she could communicate with the dead, and the creation of her ornate drawings was guided by a spirit.

Curated by Katherine Murrell, Singular Visions also features other major artists within the Art Brut canon such as Martin Ramirez, Scottie Wilson, Michel Nedjar, Anna Zemánkozá, and Gugging artists.

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Revelation! The Quilts of Marie “Big Mama” Roseman

Marie "Big Mama" Roseman (1898-2004), Untitled (Peacock with boots), n.d. Mixed media, 63 x 80 in., The Collection of Margaret and Leroy Jackson

The quilts and textiles of Marie “Big Mama” Roseman (1898 – 2004) are reflective of the African-American quilt tradition. Using embroidered and appliquéd animals, figures, and symbols applied with a thick yarn, Roseman produced illustrations with fabric and incorporated found materials such as plastic and cloth flowers, lace, and buttons. Big Mama’s quilts are a compendium of her history and her work as a midwife, herbalist and seamstress.

Marie Roseman grew up in Tippo, Mississippi, married, had four children, then moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan in 1947. Roseman was in her 70s when she began creating her rich, illustrative quilts and textiles. Later, much of her work was destroyed in a flood. Revelation! represents the first solo exhibition of this unique body of work.

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Accidental Mysteries: Extraordinary Vernacular Photographs

Detail, Anonymous, Untitled snapshot, From the Collection of John & Teenuh Foster

The photos in this show consist of 65 enigmatic vintage snapshots from the John and Teenuh Foster collection of vernacular photography. Taken by anonymous amateurs, these snapshots have been discovered by the Fosters, who collect them from a variety of places such as antique shops, thrift stores, estate sales, and online auctions. Consisting of subject matter that ranges from pets to posed family portraits, many of the snapshots include accidental double exposures and other darkroom mistakes, which create unintentionally idiosyncratic compositions. The curious history behind the origins of these found images prompts speculation from the viewer, who is left to ponder the mysterious circumstances in which these photographs came to be.

Focusing on found snapshots celebrates the non-artist as creator. John Foster notes that the images have a “democratic way of revealing the world.” Examined outside family albums, wallets, or keepsake frames, these images can and often do take on new meanings that differ dramatically from those they were originally meant to convey.