Losing another folk art heavyweight…Purvis Young (February 4, 1943 – April 20, 2010)

“I paint what I see, I paint the problems of the world.”
“When I was in my cell one night, I woke up and angels came to me and I told ’em, you know, hey man this is not my life — and they said they were gonna make a way for me, you know…”
– Purvis Young

It seems that there are stretches that all I write about is the passing of yet another folk art great. Sadly, today is no exception. Purvis Young, the prolific outsider artist from Miami’s Overton neighborhood died this morning from a heart attack. Recently he had been confined to a wheelchair and living in a nursing home, weak from his kidney transplant, years of dialysis and high blood pressure.

Working In his gritty Overtown neighborhood in the heart of Miami, Purvis willed himself into the forefront of outsider art. He’d served some jail time, and emerged to witness a city devastated by poverty and drugs. But somehow he found a way to express his anger and frustration through paint applied to pieces of window frames and other salvaged materials. In a small museum where his friend and patron Larry Clemons had assembled hundreds of his paintings, Purvis showed us how he often starts with small sketches, and also told us how much he liked that show on PBS where they haul a Big Ball of Videotape along in a van. (courtesy of Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations)