Outsider Art may be the chief recipient of derision from the public at large, which frequently sings the refrain, “my 6-year-old could’ve made that!” The childlike desire to create something is entirely different than the overwhelming need to make something, however, and that need, compulsion even, is clearly evident at Intuit’s current show.
William Hawkins’ “Last Supper #6” collages contemporary faces and meals onto the classic scene, rendered in broad and, yes, childlike, brush strokes, but there is nothing juvenile about the work. Its emotional power is focused and intentional. This focus holds as you move through the show to other Hawkins pieces, such as “Three Hanging Men,” which seems natural in the progression from religion. David Pond’s paintings and sculptures take the technical virtuosity up several steps. His lush oil of a slave at auction stares down the viewer. The slave woman is proud and frightened, standing statuesque on the canvas, a totem of strength while simultaneously chattel. It’s an incredibly potent piece of work. Pond’s woodwork is just as evocative. “The Last Pitch” may be one of the finest iconic baseball images around, the pitchers body being a perfect iteration of motion, literally flawless, and enchanting. Mary Borkowski is another star of the show, with her “silk thread paintings,” tapestries of color that are occasionally so precise as to seem machined. Her stitches look like Van Gogh’s brush strokes; her linear perspective is perfect.
All of the artists demand further investigation; their lives are as interesting as their art, and their stories open new perspectives on their output. Even looking at photos of the artists is worth your time—the stoic and somber faces so resolute and prototypically American. They might not be terribly different from you or me. They might be the artists we all are, or would like to be, on the inside. (Damien James)
Through August 29 at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, 756 N. Milwaukee.