Winter 2021 - The Design His Own

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With 2020 behind us, we look forward to a better year and are pleased to present our Winter 2021 Catalogue, "The Design His Own." This 154-page catalog features recent finds in the genres of Outsider and Self-Taught Art with a few additions of related Folk Art, including works by Carlo Zinelli, John Kane, Joseph Roth, Richard Nisbett, Moses Ogden, George Silsbee, etc.

It is a curiously worded phrase and not one I had read before, “the design his own.” Dr. John Pennington Hopkinson wrote these words on a watercolor that he collected in 1822. But the words are wise and impart, to me at least, something more than a casual comment of credit. Hopkinson felt compelled to make a special note and credit the artist, that it was something he created from his imagination—not something borrowed or copied. More so, Hopkinson wrote, “Painted by a maniac confined in the cells of the Alms House—the design his own.”

All the works herein are “designs of their own,” as it were. At the time of their creation, something new that the world had never seen. As time goes on, spouses, siblings, relatives, neighbors, communities, whole populations sift through what stays and what goes. What gets destroyed or what is saved. When you throw something away, someone else may keep it, and it is sifted through another keeper. “One man’s trash...” It lives another day.

One of the most common remarks said about antiques is, “I can’t believe it survived!” I can. Look at it! It is beautiful, complex, and sublime. It was then, and it is now. Quality of vision is always appreciated—not by all, but some—maybe even just one that sifts it and saves it for another day.

I would be remiss not to comment on the devastating toll and struggles of the year 2020. Every corner of the Earth has been affected by the tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic wreckage. We look back at the 1918 pandemic as though it was an eon ago, but it was only one hundred years ago—not learning from past mistakes, but repeating them. Cultural institutions are sifting through the art and ephemera that defines this time—collecting now, as they did in 1918, our response to a global health catastrophe. When we see historical exhibits, we often marvel at how past generations got some fundamentals of “common sense” absurdly wrong—and yet we don’t realize many of us are the “absurds”—in a different time and in a better pair of shoes. I’m looking at you anti-maskers!