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Watson MacRae exhibit explores wondrous world of ‘Folk, Fantasy and Outsider Art’

By Staff | Dec 2, 2010

A piece by Amy Gross.

Debuting tonight, the latest exhibit at the Watson MacRae Gallery on Sanibel invites gallery-goers and Luminary pilgrims alike to venture into a strange — but magnificent — new world of whimsy, wit and wonder.

“I like to show things that are different — but I’m always looking for things that are technically exceptional, that have feeling and soul,” gallery owner Maureen Watson said of her new exhibit, aptly entitled Folk, Fantasy and Outsider Art. “This show is something that people wouldn’t normally see in the mainstream. Part of the role of the Gallery is to give people the opportunity to see this different kind of art.”

The concept for Watson’s December show originated when she came across the work of Laddy Sartin, an artist whom she calls a true folk artist. But in her search to find additional pieces that would complement Sartin’s work, Watson was swept up in a whimsical world of curious compositions ranging from sweet and quirky to bizarre and uncanny — some a combination of all four.

“It makes an interesting show. It’s very lively and the work is quite amazing,” Watson said. “This exhibit shows how artists can express themselves using many different mediums, and that’s the wonderful thing about this whole category of folk, fantasy and outsider art — there are many levels to it, it’s edgy and there’s a strangeness about it. That’s what differentiates this category of art from art we’re used to looking at — there’s a twist to it.”

There are seven artists in the show: Rick Araluce, Len Cowgill, Amy Gross, Linda Green, Wendy Olson, Laddy Sartin and Jenny Lou Sherburne. This will be the second time that Araluce, from Seattle, and Green, from Sanibel, will be showing in the Watson MacRae Gallery.

“Fish Head” by Linda Green.

During the Folk, Fantasy and Outsider Art opening reception on Tuesday, Dec. 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., three of the seven featured artists — Araluce, Green and Amy Gross of Del Ray Beach — will be in attendance to talk with guests about their work on display.

“It’s always fun for people to meet the artists and find out what inspired them to do this kind of work and what it means, and that’s also part of why I’m having the artist talks this season,” Watson said.

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 11 a.m. to noon, Amy Gross and Rick Araluce will present Watson MacRae Gallery’s first artist talk of the season.

“Both of them construct these little worlds — Amy does it with textiles and beads and hers are of the natural world, and Rick hand-fabricates everything and it’s more of the supernatural, mysterious world. I think it will be a nice combination for the talk,” Watson said. “The role of the gallery is to help inform and educate people about the kind of art they show, and for the rest of the season, I’ll be having an artist talk every month.”

Folk, Fantasy and Outsider Art will hang in the Watson MacRae Gallery, located at 2340 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel, until Dec. 31. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The Last Egret” by Rick Araluce. Araluce will present an artists’ talk with Amy Gross on Dec. 8.

For more information, call 472-3386 or go to www.WatsonMacRaeGallery.com.

***Watson MacRae Gallery will be collecting non-perishable food items as donations for FISH (Friends in Service Here) of Sanibel during the opening reception of “Folk, Fantasy & Outsider Art” on Tuesday, Dec. 7