Insider / Outsider Art: Selections from Bay Area Collections

Insider / Outsider Art: Selections from Bay Area Collections

From September 18, 2011 to November 20, 2011

The Bedford kicks off the 2011-12 season with Insider / Outsider Art, a look at artwork from five prominent Bay Area collectors of Outsider art. Inventive and uninhibited, Outsider art has become an umbrella term for folk and tramp art, pop culture, street art and ethnographic art. This exhibition features over 300 artworks in a diverse range of media and genres, and connects audiences with the “unschooled” artist who has abandoned or ignored traditional influences. The artists in this show include Harold Finster, Ted Gordon, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Esther Hamerman, Alex Maldonado, Dorothy Binger, Inez Walker, A.G. Rizzoli and Raymond Coins.

“With this show we explore the work of artists who have chosen not to seek formal training in art,” says Carrie Lederer, Curator of Exhibitions and Programs. “There are many reasons why they chose their unique path – my hope is that this exhibition opens a dialogue about what it means to be an “outsider” in the context of the art world.”

The Bedford has drawn work from the collections of Bonnie Grossman and the Ames Gallery, Terri De Salvo, Stephanie & Dennis McCaffrey, Linda Chauncey and John Turner. The pieces selected for Insider / Outsider Art represent a broad range of styles and techniques from across the globe. Through drawing, painting, sculpture, wood relief, tin cutouts, textile, collage and photography, viewers get a glimpse of these unique collections, some small and highly personal, and others that span over 30 years, cataloging hundreds of works. For example, selections from John Turner’s large collection of African trade signs depicting everything from dentistry, hairstyles, shirt tailoring and even fortune telling show how utilitarian objects can be transformed into the whimsical and sublime.
Bonnie Grossman of Ames Gallery has been collecting Outsider art for more than 30 years – work from her collection is featured prominently in this show. Her collection includes work by Ted Gordon, a Kentucky-born artist who spent years in New York before moving to San Francisco in 1951. Gordon, who worked as a file clerk in government medical offices, is known for his compulsive style and his intricate, intense drawings of the human face.

The stories of artists’ lives are, in many cases, as interesting and intriguing as their work. Audiences will learn about the lives of artists such as Inez Walker, a South Carolina-born farm and factory worker who received little formal education and began drawing while in prison. Walker’s colorful drawings of women with highly stylized hair-dos have intrigued collectors and art enthusiasts for years – many of her drawings are thought to be depictions of women she observed in prison.

The exhibition also features work from Howard Finster, an illustrious self-taught artist and preacher who lived and worked in the rural South. Finster created art out of anything he could find, including plywood, canvas, gourds, bottles and mirrors, and is known for his elaborate, highly detailed paintings that communicate his spiritual messages,

The Bedford Gallery expects Insider / Outsider Art to stir some lively conversations – the term “Outsider” art and its definition by some as raw and naïve has been under debate in the art world.

Opening Reception for Insider / Outsider Art
Thursday, September 22, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
General admission $5; Free for Friends of the Bedford. Sponsored by the Diablo Regional Arts Association.
Visit for further information on related events.


1601 Civic Drive
Walnut Creek, CA 94596 

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