January 18, 2007

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Expressions of character
Self-taught art helps break stereotypes at Revolving Museum
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

A throne made of bottle caps, dozens of pipe cleaner dolls, and a totem pole-style wood carving of Muhammad Ali greet you at the Revolving Museum in Lowell, Mass.

“Race, Class, Gender ? Character” is Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum’s first visiting exhibition. Visionary art, or what some might call outsider art, is done by self-taught artists. AVAM is designated by Congress as America’s official national museum, education center and repository wholly dedicated to visionary art. Painter Lily Yeh, founder of The Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia, was the guest curator for this exhibit.

“In a world that seems so determined to sort its population into subjective categories of good and evil, ‘Character’ reminds us that everyone smiles in the same language and everyone feels the pain of injustice,” said Jerry Beck, founder and artistic director of The Revolving Museum. 

More than a dozen paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media pieces from the 300 works at the Baltimore exhibit, which ended in September, are at Revolving through Feb. 4.

Street artist Mr. Imagination awoke from a coma with a new vision after being shot in the stomach. The Chicago-born self-taught artist is now known internationally and his throne and ottoman covered in bottle caps are at the Revolving. The throne is meant to remind people that each is “a child of a King.”

Two portraits by Morgan Monceaux, “The Last Maya King” and “Queen Nzingha, Last Queen of Angola” show that the concept of royalty extends beyond modern ideas and racial divides.

John Abduljaami carves totem pole-like shapes, and his Muhammad Ali sculpture is in this exhibit. “I carve it like it is — fairy tales don’t happen,” Abduljaami has said.

Chris Roberts-Antieau’s fabric paintings are highly detailed and brightly colored. The two panels shown here are like storyboards. “The Recovery of Roy” portrays the white tiger incident with Las Vegas magicians Siegfried and Roy, and Siegfried’s constant watch over Roy.

Dozens of “Skinny Girls” by Linda St. John make up an installation. She used scraps of cloth and found objects to make dolls as a child in the south. She still makes them, representing the “haves” and “have nots” of her memories.

The Amazi Abeifazane Project panels are the most striking. South African women were asked to portray a day they will never forget. Each brightly colored cloth is embroidered or beaded, but a close-up view often shows a body across the ground, a gun in hand, or a bleeding hole in a stomach.

Art created by local teens in reaction to the exhibit is also displayed. The Revolving Museum uses public art, exhibitions and educational programs to promote exploration and appreciation, encourage community participation and provide opportunities for empowerment and social change.

Revolving Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm.,  22 Shattuck St., Lowell, Mass., (978) YES-ARTS, revolvingmuseum.org. Admission is free.



1/11/2007 Best practices

1/4/2007 Nominate your favorite for Governor's Arts Awards
12/28/2006 Art in 2006 in southern New Hampshire
12/21/2006 Time to learn
12/14/2006 Frisella's new studio; sell art for animals; girls only time
12/07/2006 Stained glass, found objects and ornaments
11/30/2006 No shortage of art sales
11/23/2006 A Granite State greeting
11/16/2006 Santa Claus hangs with artists
11/9/2006 Visual art meets poetry
11/2/2006 Local Color
10/26/2006 Local Color
10/19/2006 Local Color
10/12/2006 Almost 80 artists in Hollis ...
10/05/2006 Fine art in a field
09/28/2006 Local Color
09/21/2006 Local Color
09/14/2006 Local color
09/07/2006 Bel Espirit, a happening of chance
08/31/2006 An artistic endeavor
08/24/2006 The almost-all architecture edition
08/17/2006 Half century of creativity
08/10/2006 Obsession with the Isles of Shoals
08/03/2006 See the precise craft of carving with a chainsaw
07/20/2006 For museums or your living room
07/13/2006 Making their mark
07/06/2006 Sense of place
06/29/2006 New ground
06/22/2006 MAA honors scholars an artists of the year
06/15/2006 Galleries open doors
06/08/2006 It's sticky up here
06/01/2006 Mural for MCAM
05/25/2006 Scenes from the air
05/18/2006 Vanguardians sit down
05/11/2006 Public masterpiece
05/04/2006 Art helps kids at MAA show
04/27/2006 In-house artists on display
04/20/2006 No Pinocchio here
04/13/2006 School's out art's in
04/06/2006 Meet Michael Toomey
03/30/2006 Art builds community ...
03/23/2006 From Celtic design to Ayn Rand
03/16/2006 Got Cow?
03/09/2006 A creative view of China
03/02/2006 Monastery Arts open new show
02/23/2006 Love and art in one location
02/16/2006 Job loss leads to artistic success
02/09/2006 Art in the key of Adam and Eve
02/02/2006 Art to make you think
01/26/2006 New York artists to show at Derryfiled School
01/19/2006 A new age of artwork
01/12/2006 Photography buffs unite
01/05/2006 Jeweler teaches her trade
Alison Williams
All together now
A forest through the trees
A light in the dark
An event for artists, by artists
Anne Dufresne
Armand Szainer: never forget
Art group picks artist of the year
Art In The Park
Art in the Park sees attendance dip
Arts In Education Conference
Art like Crayons for grown-ups
Art you can sit on (if you own it)
Better Living Through Artistry
Capturing history with a panaramic view
Ceramic Biennial
Currier Kicks Off 2005 With NHSS Show
Die fotografieren
Doug Mendoza: Body Artist
Enjoying the Open Doors Trolley Tour
East Colony Fine Art has gone jazz
Equal Arts Opportunities
Exploring purgatory and paradise
Expressions coming from within
Fighting cancer with creativity
Free food, free music and plenty of art
Harry Umen: New Work

Head of the class
Heating up the canvas
Inside the artist’s studio
It’s art, and it’s even practical!
James Aponovich

James Chase
Jan De Bray
Local Artist, Global Message
Lollipops and Hand Grenades
MAA Adds New Dimension To Gallery
MAA Gallery Mixes It Up
Making Book With Children
Manchester Art In 2004
Morgan's "Danse" Comes To Manch
Morin Avoid Typecasting
NHIA chalks it up to May 14
Open Doors Manchester Returns
Open Doors Trolley Tour, The Winter Version
Looking for a crowd? Just add art
McGowan Fine Art Turns 25
Nita Leger Casey
Patti Matthis
Saint Anselm Favorite Returns
Searching for the extraordinary
Small Town Art Hits The Big City
Spirit Of The Holidays Exhibit
Step into the Art Pad at Langer Place
Stride and ride
Tagging goes to wall, gets legit
The art and craft of Glendi
The art of signs to art and stuff
The Art Of The Qashquai

The Return Of The Art Trolley Tour
The Ubiquitous Ann Domingue
Two-continent painting exhibit opens
Using nature as a canvas
Waxwork
Women's Art Group Marks 10th Year
Wyeth Works Return To The Currier