But at every turn this fair has a new clarity. The art rises to the occasion of the more refined environment. Each stand contains at least one example of excellence and sometimes several.
By now the term outsider has become close to meaningless in its elasticity. It implies self-taught, which many insider artists are; it also means isolated, although these days younger outsiders are being influenced by previous generations.
The time may be past when outsider geniuses are discovered, or rediscovered with astounding regularity — from Joseph Yoakum, Martín Ramírez, Henry Darger and Bill Traylor in the late 1960s and ’70s to Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Morton Bartlett and James Castle in the 1990s. While less dominant than in past fairs, these artists are all present, mostly in stands on the first aisle. At Phyllis Kind, Ricco/Maresca, Carl Hammer, Maxwell Projects and Marion Harris you’ll find a kind of outsider art Hall of Fame. Other old guards in the vicinity include Grandma Moses, represented by paintings and an embroidery at St. Etienne; at Gilley’s Gallery, Clementine Hunter (1887-1988) is represented by two walls of paintings (including some strange Cubist heads from around 1970), and a quilt that gives her pictorial language a new complexity.
His caretakers have suspended sales of his (Frank Calloway’s) artwork until after the show after finding out that some of his drawings could sell for thousands of dollars.