Sunday, April 29, 2007

Artopolis 2007: Outsider and Folk Art

In my fourth hour of wandering through the 5 shows
of the first Chicago Artopolis event,
I came across this figure
by a barely known carver from Ranger, Texas
named W. L.Bourdeau.

There are many, different reasons for liking something,
and maybe exhaustion had something to do
with why I found this piece so attractive.

It's such a contrast
to the overwhelming theme
of the the 10,000 pieces I'd already passed that day,
each trying to be stranger and more disturbing than the next

While I do get the feeling that old W.L.
was just trying to please himself
with the things he liked to contemplate,
like the bodies of young women

or the eternal dramas of family life.

These thing were dated 1955-1960,
but the gallery offered no other information
about the artist -- his anonymity
qualifying him as a genuine folk artist.

(although, in a reality check, there's only 2500 souls in Ranger, Texas,
a rural town on the dusty road from Fort Worth to Abilene,
people named Bourdeau still live there,
and I'm sure Lori drives through there every month. )

W.L. was well within the dominant trend of
American sculpture of the 30's and 40's,
so even if he didn't go to art school (and maybe he did),
he had to have some connection to the artworld of his time.

Maybe that's why his work really isn't selling for very much.
(at $2800 retail for a 17" carving,
he still wouldn't be able to live off his sculpture,
even in Ranger Texas)

And unlike the really famous outsider artists
(like our very own Henry Darger ), he doesn't seem to have been a borderline psychotic.

Here's the only other piece I enjoyed from the
Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art

This quilt attributed to
African-Americans in southern Alabama in the 1920's

I found it to be a very enjoyable, almost musicial pattern,
that seems to be spinning off into infinite variability.

This was a designer who seemed to be enjoying herself,
rather than suffering under the crushing weight of modernity.


Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Hhhm, let's see...Google Maps...Ranger, Texas.

Between Strawn and Eastland.

But where's Eastland?
*zooms out*
Ah, of course, east of Cisco.

(Where the heck am I? Note to self -- get GPS.)

Now, if I just follow these railroad tracks east...then east some more...

Ah. The Amon Carter Museum.

NOW I know where I am.


It was fun that you thought of my peripatetic self, but I rarely get north of Temple.

Although now that I've spotted Zipperlandville on the map, I may have to head towards Temple in a couple of weeks -- and look, it's near Rosebud!

:-) again...

May 02, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Yes, Lori, I can't wait to see your shots from Zipperlandville !

May 02, 2007  
Blogger John Greenfield said...

W.L. Bourdeau was my grandfather and I would just like to say thank you for the wonderful things you have said about him.


February 05, 2013  
Blogger chris miller said...

If you've got any more photos of your grandfather's sculpture, John, I'd be glad to post them on my figure sculpture website.

February 06, 2013  

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