Friday, March 2, 2012

Durham's Art Scene Welcomes and Promotes "Outsiders"

As the old saying goes, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  So, too, is the appreciation of that which one considers art.  Expressed in many forms, Durham, NC is fortunate to have an art scene that is eclectic, exciting, and as open and welcoming as the community itself.

In 2009, Pam Gutlon opened her Outsiders Art & Collectibles gallery on Iredell St.  A lover of art produced by artists who are self-taught - outsider art - Gutlon set out to create a showcase for the work and the artists alike.  It was an act of passion and an expression of her commitment to the community overall.   "I strongly believe that bringing Durham’s business, non-profit, and art communities together better serves the community as a whole," she said. Her gallery regularly serves as both a place for art to be displayed and sold, as well as a venue to create community. 

Soon the gallery will host it's first wedding, it hosts monthly open houses with 300 to 500 people attending, and is even the site of a writing group that claims that the artwork on the walls helps shake them loose from writer's block and provides inspiration.

The outsider art community enjoys growing good fortune that there are places at which their art is celebrated.  Durham's Outsiders Art & Collectibles is one of a cadre of places that has taken hold nationally wherein people  like Durham artist Odinga Tyehimba can find not only a place to display his work, but also a champion to trumpet his talent in a way that artists themselves often struggle to.

In Tyehimba's case, Gutlon reports, this has yielded great interest by the publication Raw Vision - a leading periodical on the subject of outsider art.  Tyehimba's work is also likely to be included in a show at the The Gregg Museum of Art & Design at North Carolina State University.  These two outcomes can combine to be life changing for an artist.

By Bruce New
Next week, Gutlon is again showcasing the work of artist Bruce New.  Her gallery is one of the places where he can have his work shown and be on hand to connect directly with those who buy it.  For an outsider artist, it is not a common experience to have an ally the likes of Gutlon.
Says New, "My work is an attempt to document my existence – to leave a visual record of my thoughts, ideas, and fantasies. I reside in the wilds of Kentucky, with a bird and our son, on a mountaintop, right next to the sun, where I create my artwork...." New, a Kentucky artist, has lived his entire life there and has always made art. As a child he created notebooks of comic heroes and battle scenes of war but never thought he could be an artist and instead dreamed of being Reggie Jackson.

The relationship between the two has been a fruitful one, Gutlon says.  She's particularly excited about his return.

New's return engagement is Saturday, March 10 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm.  Live music will be performed by Katharine Whalen (formerly of the Squirrel Nut Zippers) and Her Fascinators.   Only Burger and The Parlour will be there, too.   

The event is free and open to the public - everyone is welcome, just like in Durham.

See also:
Information about other Durham Art Galleries

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