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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Outsiders Art and Collectibles 

Special to the Clarion Content by featured guest columnist: Rebecca Yan

Photo credit also to Rebecca Yan.

Despite the economic downturn, Pamela Gutlon of Outsiders Art and Collectibles strives to make community her priority.

Located on Iredell Street in the nook between the vibrant by-ways of 9th Street and Broad Street, hers is a gallery that features traditional Southern outsider art, that is, art work made by untrained artists.

Gutlon founded the gallery in November 2009 due to her longing to be part of the city’s emerging art community, and because of her desire to share with Durham, artists who are sometimes “outside” the mainstream art community.

“It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do in the middle of a recession, but I feel so much better now that I’m part of the community,” Gutlon said.

The gallery's location between the busy thoroughfares has its downsides, such as the trickling flow of visitors on most weekdays. Gutlon says that there are days when she may get only one or two visitors.

Gutlon tries to boost her exposure by hosting numerous community events throughout the year, such as this week's two-year anniversary party. She coordinates these events with the local food trucks like the Pie Pushers and Only Burger. Outsider Arts and Collectibles events often feature live music as well.

Gutlon uses her art network to help outsider art get on the walls at local landmark restaurants like Fullsteam Brewery, Parker and Otis, Rue Cler and Guglhupf.

Jennings Brody, the bon vivant and owner of Parker and Otis, said she chose to display outsider art because she “wants to support a local business and... [said that Gutlon] shares the same commitment to help local businesses.”

The benefit is mutual.

“If a restaurant wants art and they can’t afford it, I’m happy to give them art,” said Gutlon.

The partnership between the two has been established for a year and a half, and it has benefited both.

“She’s really good about partnering with me…bringing the art that I like,” Jennings said. “Her gallery is something off the beaten path, and if we can garner her more exposure, we’d be glad to do it.”

Gutlon said that she has had many people call her to purchase the art work that they have seen at the restaurants.

“Durham is one of those communities where if you build it, they will come,” Gutlon said.

It is also with the goal of helping outsider artists garner more exposure that Gutlon opened the gallery.

Outsider art has traditionally meant artworks created by backwoods, uneducated, African-American artists. The term has now evolved into the artwork of untrained, emerging artists from diverse sociological and economic backgrounds.

Kathryn DeMarco, a local artist, who received her Bachelors of Fine Art (BFA) in painting from Boston University, identified outsider artists as “somebody who hasn’t had a formal education in art and uses found objects.”

“They really have a great sense of aesthetics…but no BFA,” DeMarco said. “Like a collage…it’s technically different, but not much different.”

One of the main aesthetics that drives the form, DeMarco said, is that, “[outside art is] kind of whimsical and innovative. There’s work, [such as that of] The Masking Tape guy, that’s kind of funky.

Kathryn, we could not have said it better based on our experiences at Outsiders Art and Collectibles. Kind of funky.

Photo credit Rebecca Yan.

This week, Wednesday night, November 2nd, Bart Schultz aka The Masking Tape guy will be featured along with Chris Milk Hulburt at the Outsiders Art and Collectibles Two-year Anniversary Party, #718 Iredell Street. (They share the building with the Happymess Art Studio.) Food trucks expected include Only Burger, Ko Kyu and The Parlour. Live music will provided by Down River and the Bulltown Strutters.

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