Comstock's magazine 0519 - May 2019 - Page 38

n OUTSIDER ART T he four members of boy band One Direction are collectors. For one of those gallerists, art expert D. Neath, depicted standing shoulder to shoulder against a there’s really only one way to judge. bright yellow background. They each wear a dis- “It either speaks to you or it doesn’t,” says Neath, tinctive outfit, and their names are below them in who has been involved in the Sacramento art scene for black handwriting punctuated with magenta dots. decades, first as a protégée of the late Michael Himovitz This is the work of Dawne Franklin, a client of Short — a celebrated gallery owner and one of the founders of Center North’s art program for adults with disabilities. Second Saturday — and now as the proprietor of Archival Though Franklin is not a classicly-trained artist, her Gallery and the curator of the annual televised K VIE Art brightly colored work depicting celebrities has sold well Auction. in fundraiser shows put on by Sacramento’s SCN to intro- This clear-cut definition is especially useful in a time duce clients’ artwork to the wider world under the auspic- when the art world seems to be more and more keen on es of “outsider art,” a term coined over time to encompass defining art in categories — key words and titles like “pop everything from work by self-taught artists to the artwork art,” “folk art,” “found art” and “installation art” — that of the developmentally disabled. encapsulate a movement or genre, making it easy to un- “Dawne has grown as an artist since she came to the derstand and optimize for online searches. program 17 years ago,” says But when we’re talking John Berger, SCN’s program about outsider art, that en- director for 18 years. “She capsulation can be quite doesn’t rush the artistic pro- tricky. cess and makes better choic- es about composition and WHAT IS OUTSIDER ART? color. I think there is a cer- The definition of “outsid- tain raw energy within her er art” began to crystallize work. It’s funny, hard-edged, in the early 1970s when art enthusiastic, cute in some critic Roger Cardinal coined ways, but all in the right the term as a way to trans- proportions. She also paints late the French art term art subject matter that really ap- brut — meaning “raw art” or peals to her — and it shows.” “rough art” — that was used “I love how the paint by artist Jean Dubuffet to de- feels, especially acrylic,” scribe art created outside the Franklin, 38, says. establishment. Neath sees — John Berger, program director, This enthusiasm has the definition of the genre as Short Center North made Franklin one of SCN’s something even more basic. top-selling artists, with piec- “I think the difference es that range from $10 to between outsider artists and $120. Forty of her paintings were displayed at a fundraiser professional artists is that they’re making art for different last summer and Berger says that the roughly $400 Frank- reasons,” Neath says. “They’re not making it to be aestheti- lin’s work brought in was one of the center’s largest sales cally pleasing so you’ll buy it — they don’t care if you like it. for a single artist at an event. They make art because they derive physical joy from doing “Anyone who can make the Backstreet Boys, One Di- so. They have a physical need to create.” rection, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber ap- Outsider art enjoyed quite a bit of local attention in peal to a fine art market and make people want to proudly the 1980s when the Himovitz Gallery was in operation — display this work in their home is doing something right,” Neath says her mentor was a champion of outsider art — Berger says. “Everyone that purchased her work walked and Neath held her first exhibition of outsider artwork at away from the event happy.” Archival Gallery in 1987. It featured work by the clients of But should happiness be the only measure by which SCN, which uses art classes and other hands-on activities we evaluate art? The question of whether the provenance to help participants develop life skills. of a piece of artwork should affect its popularity has long Over the years, Neath has made it a priority to include been a battleground for academics, artists, gallerists and SCN artists in the K VIE Art Auction — the center has been “Anyone who can make the Backstreet Boys, One Direction, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber appeal to a fine art market and make people want to proudly display this work in their home is doing something right.” 38 | May 2019