Rare Visions/Detour Art Review in Raw Vision Magazine.


Rare Visions, Detour Art

Belger Arts Center, Kansas City, USA


March 6 – May 1, 2009.

This impressive exhibit filled two floors of the Belger Arts Center with an extensive overview of more than 160 paintings and sculptures of Outsider, folk, and visionary art. Curators Kelly Ludwig, author of the book Detour Art, and Mike Murphy, co-host of the PBS series Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, exhibited art from their personal collections, in addition to works loaned from participating artists and organizations including the Grassroots Arts Center of Lucas, Kansas and The Kansas City Art Institute.

A record-breaking opening night crowd was met by dramatic, perfectly lit displays highlighting a wide variety of styles, textures and mediums. Embellished concrete sculptures from Ed Root’s farm, saved in the 1970s by the KGAA and now held by the Grassroots Art Center, were sprinkled throughout the first floor. Metal masks by Jerry Coker, and pieces by Roger ‘Ab the Flagman’ Ivens and John Woods also greeted guests.

Works most often associated with art environments highlighted the ‘Midwest Gallery’, from Clarence & Grace Woolsey to M.T. Liggett, Jesse Howard and Tom ‘Dr. Evermor’ Every. A new discovery, Dennis Clark, was also in attendance, watching the effect his minutely detailed maps of imaginary cities had on the mesmerized viewers.

Other crowd favourites were the ranks of angels and devils which filled a small ‘Hell Room’, including art by W.C. Rice, Leroy Almon, Sulton Rogers, Carl McKenzie, and Ronald and Jessie Cooper.

This coast-to-coast review also included works by such nationally known artists as Howard Finster, Mose Tolliver, Purvis Young, Minnie Adkins, Homer Green, James Harold Jennings and Mamie Deschellie.

In a sense, the exhibition was perfectly timed. In much the same way that the current economic climate is taking its toll, many of the works on display were created at stressful junctures in these artists’ lives. Rare Visions, Detour Art stands as a joyful reminder that despite the odds, the human spirit and the drive to create will always find a way to prevail.