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on the hunt for good art

Mia Christopher & Contemporary Primitive Art

August 2nd, 2010 · 2 Comments

Funny-looking but lovable figures, beautiful patterns and colors, acrobatic cats and dogs, and gravity-defying, Justin Richel-like compositions… If you’re at all into contemporary folk art, Mia Christopher‘s work is pretty much a home run.


Personally I have a big soft spot for primitive, self-taught art even when the artist isn’t actually self-taught (as is the case with Christopher who studied at four different art schools). This new generation of contemporary folk artists has taken major stylistic cues from early American folk artists who were almost always truly self-taught (see painting below by unidentified artist c. 1840). Even when it’s merely an adopted style, primitive art exudes an innocence and humbleness that makes it a fun and accessible genre of contemporary art.



Artist Crush: Estibaliz Hernandez de Miguel

June 20th, 2010 · 1 Comment

I confess I have a crush on a really cool and talented Art Hound reader, Estibaliz Hernandez de Miguel. Estibaliz draws, writes and takes photos, sometimes combining all three. She is self-taught and lives in Bilbao, Spain.



I admit I have a thing for self-taught artists like Estibaliz, including art school grads who draw/paint/create like self-taught artists (Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsche and Margaret Kilgallen are two good examples). Self-taught artists possess a freedom with their work that art-school grads rarely do. It’s like a person dancing wildly in an anonymous crowd who suddenly realizes all eyes are on him. When artists are free to create what’s in their mind’s eye, without pandering to the taste of others, they produce work that is, at the very least, genuine and relatable.  .I

Artist Crush: Jose Arenas

May 14th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Jose Arenas‘ work is folksy, fanciful and lively. I also sense influences of one of my favorite artists, Frieda Kahlo. The bright colors and patterns, the child-like naivete and the personal allegories- it all feels very Kahlo to me. These imaginative paintings, which some might call quaint or sentimental, are a refreshing escape from the more popular stuff that hits the same tired notes over and over again. I have a great deal of appreciation for artists like Arenas who go against the grain and show us what’s possible.




Jose Arenas’ work is available through San Francisco gallery and AAF exhibitor, Hang Art.

Guest Curator on the Beholder!

November 2nd, 2009 · No Comments

thebeholder header

Exciting news! This month I’m the guest curator on the fabulous online gallery, the Beholder! The Beholder has a ton of great art which made my job of selecting just a handful of pieces difficult. I was particularly drawn to art on the site that was understated, figurative, graphic, and neutral (color-wise), which I loosely-classify as contemporary folk art. The term “contemporary folk” has a broad array of definitions, but I think this collection provides a good sampling of some of the more compelling examples of this genre.  Scroll down for my statement on the collection.

Big thanks to Suzanne Shade, the Beholder’s director/curator!

Opening: Jim Houser @ Jonathan LeVine *

October 24th, 2009 · 3 Comments

* UPDATED with video of Jim in his studio via Art In The Age

A Day In The Studio of Jim Houser from Art In The Age on Vimeo.

Jim Houser: Piles

Tonight is the opening for Jim Houser‘s awesome new show, Make Room For The Emptiness, at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in NYC through November 21st.

Houser is an imaginative self-taught artist whose work is born from his most personal experiences and thoughts which he meticulously translates for the viewer. To this effect the show includes a site-specific installation and music the artist composed just for the show. Houser’s work has a distinct typographic style as a result of his bold but limited color palette and use of words and repetitive shapes.

For more insight on the artist, check out Fecal Face’s in-depth interview by the artist’s friend, Adam Wallacavage.

Artist of the day: Katy Horan

October 17th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Today I’m featuring artist Katy Horan whose new work, shown here, is truly sensational! Katy graduated from RISD in 2003 and has since shown on both coasts, including at many of Honestly Art’s favorite galleries: White Walls, Giant Robot, Space 1026, Tinlark Gallery to name a few.


To try to summarize Katy’s work in a few short sentences would be just about impossible, so instead I’ll just say that her work is incredibly imaginative and edgy while still very open to interpretation.  In this series, I sometimes think I see colonial women, other times women from African folk art, other times monsters that would fit in any children’s horror story.

Katy’s work is available through Etsy and the Beholder.