The Outsider Art Fair came early this year and had to move uptown while its traditional home, the Puck Building, got a facelift. Even with those impediments and the dismal economy, dealers are reporting sales to ArtInfo:
Expectations, then, were fairly low, and yet some dealers wrapped up the weekend feeling pleasantly surprised. Among them was Chicago’s Carl Hammer, who told ARTINFO that he came to the fair “apprehensive” but in the end was decidedly positive about his eponymous gallery’s “moderately successful” results. On Friday afternoon, Hammer had sold only an untitled sculpture by Judith Scott, which consists of multicolored yarn wrapped around some kind of foam core in the shape of a torso. But by Sunday afternoon, the gallery had unloaded nearly 20 more artworks, among them a number of simple drawings of animals on cardboard by Bill Traylor; a wood sign by Jesse Howard with hand-painted verses from the Bible about Goliath; and a number of small mixed-media-on-paper pieces full of Catholic imagery by Stephen Palmer. Prices ranged from $4,500 for the Palmers to $22,000 for the Scott.
(More sales, including Ricco/Maresca’s Stephen Palmer works–above, left–after the jump.)
Across the way, the folks at Ricco/Maresca Gallery were also showing Palmer, whom Roger Ricco classified as a fairly new discovery shared by the two galleries, and Ricco also left the fair pleasantly surprised. He sold at least three Palmers himself, all 20-by-10-inch Catholic devotions bordering on the psychedelic. In addition, the New York gallery had on hand a selection of stunning late Martín Ramírez works, from a group found in a garage in California in 2007 that is currently the subject of an exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum. “At least two or three” of those were gone by the end of the weekend, each priced in the ballpark of $175,000. The gallery had also turned around 14 densely colorful pictographs by Ben Hotchkiss at approximately $2,200 apiece.
Unlike other exhibitors, one dealer was successful but not surprised about it. “The economy doesn’t matter,” said Henry Boxer, from Richmond, England. “When you’ve got good art, it sells.” Boxer’s booth was already filled with red dots on Friday afternoon, when he told ARTINFO that he had sold 10 George Widener pieces within the first 15 minutes of Thursday night’s preview. Widener is an Asberger’s savant who has been deemed a “lightning calendar calculator” for his incredible ability to memorize dates, population statistics, and other figures. The numbers he keeps in his head figure largely in his work; they are written over and over on the pieces available in Boxer’s booth, priced at between $2,000 for smaller schematic drawings up to $20,000 for larger works. Boxer also had on hand a large album of mesmerizing postcard drawings by Madge Gill, priced from $300 down to as low as $100. The postcards were popular, as were a few bigger pen-and-ink drawings by the artist, which went for between $195 and $295.
Art is Not an Investment (ArtInfo)