by Edward M. Gómez


This year’s Outsider Art Fair feels exuberant and festive. Clearly, dealers, collectors, and inquisitive observers have been eagerly anticipating the return of this colorful annual event in its full form following two long years of dreary pandemic conditions. Old-guard galleries that have been active in the field for many decades are offering some gems by such classic, definitive outsiders as Bill Traylor, Frank Jones, Lee Godie, and Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, among others.

It’s interesting to note that, over just the past few years, a gallery like Yukiko Koide Presents, from Japan, has seen the works of its artist Yuichiro Ukai take off and become recognized as emblematic of the most original, most imaginative contemporary Japanese art brut. At this year’s OAF, this gallery’s selection of Ukai’s drawings, with their dense compositions packed with monsters, dinosaurs, historical figures, and the occasional robot enjoyed brisk sales.

Sometimes, small-size works can pack a big emotional-psychological punch. Gregory Van Maanen, who was born in New Jersey in 1947, served in the Vietnam War and became affected with post-traumatic stress disorder, has for many years made paintings in acrylic on board filled with talismanic motifs — eyes, skulls, bony hands, and sometimes just sprinklings of drifting stars. For Van Maanen, making his art is a healing activity; his small paintings exude the air of antique ex-votos.

As is so often the case at a fair at which evidence of the soulful touch of the artist’s hand in the making of his or her creations and fine craftsmanship in general are attributes to be celebrated, not dismissed, this year, some fine handiwork is to be found in many drawings, paintings, and mixed-media works. Here are some of our latest finds at this year’s OAF.

Chicago’s venerable Carl Hammer Gallery has long shown the drawings of the Frank Jones (1900-1969), a black self-taught artist who lived in Texas, where he died while serving time at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, north of Houston.
Detail of a drawing by Frank Jones that is on view at Carl Hammer Gallery’s booth at the 2022 Outsider Art Fair.
Small paintings on cardboard by the American artist Gregory Van Maanen, a Vietnam War veteran, whose art-making serves the artist as a healing activity. They’re on view at Cavin-Morris Gallery’s booth.
Close-up of one of Gregory Van Maanen’s small-format paintings, with their talisman-like motifs.

Born in 1961, Darédo is a female artist who lives in the south of France, where, inspired by nature, she makes drawings and paintings filled with fantasy creatures and organic forms in compositions that feel intimate and mystical. She is represented by Galerie Pol Lemétais in Saint-Sever-du-Moustier, a town to the west of Montpellier.
Born in Tucson, Arizona, in 1980, Seth Bogart is a gay artist, musician, and performer who has been involved with such bands as Hunx and his Punx and Gravy Train!!!!. At this year’s OAF, his representations in painted ceramic of books associated with various aspects of American pop culture in the post-World War II economic-boom era send up some of the sources of ideas and imagery that once fueled the zeitgeist.


The grand opening of the 2022 Outsider Art Fair is under way, and all of the participating art dealers and other exhibitors’ booths are up and filled with colorful, intriguing creations by artists whose inventiveness and imagination are often as unexpected as they are alluring.

Here are some interesting finds from artists whose names are familiar — or completely new to the scene. Enjoy our visual notebook!

Drawings on calendar sheets by Kunizo Matsumoto (born 1962) on view in the booth of Yukiko Koide Presents, a Tokyo-based gallery that has taken part in the fair for many years. Matsumoto is interested in such subjects as 17th-century Japanese Rimpa painting, Disneyland, and kabuki theater. In his drawings, he obsessively writes and rewrites Japanese kanji (Sino-Japanese characters).
One of the most interesting displays at the fair this year is that of the dealer Aarne Anton, who formerly operated the New York-based gallery American Primitive and now runs the online Nexus Singularity gallery. One section of his booth, titled “Unknown, Undefined,” presents a diverse collection of vernacular objects and artworks made by self-taught artists in a celebration of the creativity of inventive autodidacts.
Another view of the “Unknown, Undefined” presentation in the Nexus Singularity booth. Dealer Aarne Anton is fascinated by the expressive character of the many objects he has collected over the years.
In Nexus Singularity’s “Unknown, Undefined” display, this tribute to George Washington, the first American president, includes a motorcycle, a turkey, and a reference to the rock singer Tina Turner.
This striking, carved-stone depiction of an African-American subject appears in Nexus Singularity’s “Unknown, Undefined” display. It was made by an anonymous artist sometime in the 1800s.
Jennifer Lauren, a young art dealer from England, is showing this exquisite and very rare watercolor-on-paper picture by the self-taught American artist Joseph E. Yoakum (1891-1972), whose work is the subject of the exhibition Joseph E. Yoakum: What I Saw. First presented late last year at the Art Institute of Chicago, it is now on view, through March 19, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This work was owned by the late, British art historian Roger Cardinal (1940-2019), whose 1972 book Outsider Art coined a new term for art brut and the hard-to-classify creations of self-taught artists, which became a common label for such art in the English-speaking world. Cardinal acquired this Yoakum work from the late Phyllis Kind (1933-2018), the legendary American art dealer whose galleries in Chicago and New York played a major role, decades ago, in the development of an international market for art brut and outsider art.
A painting by Terry Turrell, a 75-year-old self-taught artist from Idaho who now lives in Seattle, Washington. Turrell only started making art later in life. He creates his richly textured paintings using oil paint on board.


Today, Thursday, March 3, the 2022 Outsider Art Fair will begin in New York with a preview session for the media starting at midday and a grand opening that will begin at 4:00 in the afternoon. All day yesterday, exhibitors from New York and other parts of the United States, as well as from Europe and Japan, unpacked their boxes and set up their booths filled with oddities and wonders, and many hard-to-classify treasures made by self-taught, often visionary artists.

This year, brutjournal is one of the fair’s official media partners. We’ll be publishing daily reports right here about our most interesting finds at the fair, sharing the latest news with you about what art dealers, collectors, researchers, and artists who are involved in the related art brut and outsider art fields have been thinking and discovering. This year’s confab marks a return to the full-bodied, in-person OAF that, like so many other art fairs and trade shows, was forced to appear in an altered, somewhat diminished form last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Right now, New York City is emerging from the pandemic, but health-safety protocols are still in effect in many places, such as restaurants and museums. Visitors to this year’s OAF must show proof of their vaccination or COVID-negative status, and everyone on site at the fair must wear a face mask.

Below is a reporter’s visual notebook with some preliminary findings from the fair. There is much more to examine and discover. Stay tuned over the next few days!

This year’s edition of the Outsider Art Fair commemorates the anniversary of its founding and its first presentation in New York 30 years ago.
brutjournal’s visual director, the photographer Bill Westmoreland, setting up the magazine’s booth at the fair. Our booth’s design is based on the online publication’s graphic-design scheme, with its bold color palette and distinctive visual elements.
A view from a high ladder into brutjournal’s booth at the Outsider Art Fair
The New York gallery SHRINE is showing big, bold paintings by the artist Rob Ober, the American son of a diplomat who grew up in various countries and has operated a gallery of his own in Kent, Connecticut. His art’s subjects have included deities and historical figures, among others.
A portrait by Byron Smith, in colored pencil on paper, on view at LAND Gallery’s booth at the Outsider Art Fair. Located in Brooklyn, New York, this gallery operates a studio program for adult artists with developmental disabilities.
Behind this door in the OAF booth of the art dealer Aarne Anton lies the mysterious Nexus Singularity. Stay tuned for more information to come about what lurks in that space.
Howard Finster, “Thank God for an Empty Cross (2000 and 877 Pieces,” 1983, paint on wood panel, 24 x 36 inches. This painting by one of American outsider art’s canonical masters is on display in Maps and Legends, an exhibition on view within the 2022 Outsider Art Fair. Organized by the art dealer and independent curator Phillip March Jones, this exhibition features works from the collection of R.E.M. band member Michael Stipe and other sources. See our article about this exhibition in brutjournal’s February 2022 issue.
Setting up the exhibition Maps and Legends at the 2022 OAF.
Recently, the 90-year-old, legendary French art brut creator André Robillard has been making drawings on bed sheets and towels from the psychiatric hospital with which he has been associated for many years and on whose property he lives and works in his own home. These works are available from Galerie Polysémie, a gallery based in Marseille, France. Seen together in quantity now at the fair, they may give viewers who are familiar with Robillard’s work the impression that they constitute a significant, cohesive body of work that has emerged late in this prolific artist’s long career.
This photo shows a detail of one of André Robillard’s new works made on a bed sheet. It is imprinted with the name of the network of hospitals in France from which he procured it.
Stop by brutjournal’s booth at the Outsider Art Fair to pick up free stickers (while supplies last). We stick with our community of art lovers and creative free spirits. Stick it to ’em!