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Self-Taught Arts in the News 3 Items

Sam Gappmayer Appointed New Director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center

Posted in Self-Taught Arts in the News

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The morning of Sept. 30, 2016, the Board of Directors of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center announced the hiring of Sam Gappmayer as the new Director of the Sheboygan, WI, arts organization. Gappmayer, who currently serves as President and CEO of the Peoria Riverfront Museum, will assume his new position October 17.

Gappmayer has 27 years of experience heading multidisciplinary arts organizations throughout the United States. Prior to the Peoria Riverfront Museum, he worked as the top executive at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts in Ketchum, ID. Gappmayer earned a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts from Montana State University.

“I have admired the work of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and Ruth DeYoung Kohler, its longtime Director, for most of my career,” stated Gappmayer. “Vital and relevant programming in multiple artistic disciplines, the unique Arts/Industry program, and the focus on art environment builders sets the Arts Center apart as an important contributor to a healthy arts culture on local, regional, and national levels.”

Ruth DeYoung Kohler served as the Arts Center’s Director since 1972, and in January, she transitioned to the role of Director Emerita and Director of Strategic Initiatives. In 2015, she was honored with the Visionary Award from the American Folk Art Museum in New York City, and she received the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

“I have deep admiration for all that Ruth Kohler, the staff, board and donors have accomplished in building and expanding the reach of the Arts Center over many years and feel honored to become part of this dedicated creative community,” commented Gappmayer. “It is my intention to continue to enhance and extend the mission of this very special institution.”

John Michael Kohler Arts Center Board President Sandra Sachse said, “The board of directors believes that Sam has the skills and experience to continue the unique vision of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center as we go forward into the future. We welcome him and his wife, Ann, to our community.”

In 2017, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center will celebrate its 50th year as a leader in innovative explorations of the arts. Its programming is distinguished by original, thematic exhibitions; cutting-edge music and dance performances; commissions of collaborative community works of art; and a highly respected arts-based preschool. The Arts Center’s anniversary will be celebrated with a yearlong series of exhibitions featuring its world-renowned collection of works by art-environment builders. The Arts Center is also in the planning phase for construction of the Art Preserve, a facility that will provide state-of-the-art storage and display of its extensive collection.

About the John Michael Kohler Arts Center: Founded in 1967, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is dedicated to making innovative arts programming accessible to a broad audience that ranges from artists and academics to families and youth of all ages. Central to its mission is promoting understanding and appreciation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists through original exhibitions, commissioned works of art, performing arts programs, community arts initiatives, and publications. The Arts Center’s collections focus primarily on works by vernacular-environment builders, self-taught and folk artists, and works created in the Arts/Industry residency program.

Looking to the future, the Arts Center continues to generate new explorations in the arts that foster creative exchanges between an international community of artists and a diverse public, making real the power of the arts to transform lives and strengthen communities. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is supported by corporate and foundation donors, government grants, and its many members. The Arts Center is not an entity of Kohler Co. or its subsidiaries. More information about the Arts Center can be found at jmkac.org.

Remembering Josep Pujiula i Vila (1937-2016)

Posted in Just Added, Self-Taught Arts in the News

 

OBITUARY: JOSEP PUJIULA I VILA

Jo Farb Hernández

Internationally renowned art environment builder Josep Pujiula i Vila suddenly died of a heart attack the morning of June 2, 2016. He was 79 years old.

 

untitledPhoto: Jo Farb Hernández, 2000

Beginning in the 1970s, Pujiula built a series of monumental openwork structures out of willow branches and found objects in a wooded area just west of the village of Argelaguer in the Pyrenean foothills of Catalunya. But as he didn’t build on his own property, again and again he ran into challenges with authorities from the municipality, the electrical company, and the agencies in charge of water, electricity, and highways. Responding to their demands, he destroyed but then rebuilt four complete art environments in this area, each unique but each also utilizing what became his iconic material and motif: arched tunnels created from the flexible branches of the saplings found by the nearby Fluvià River. He lashed these slim limbs together to erect numerous towers reaching 40 meters (130+ feet) high and labyrinths that curved around the hillsides, snaking up and stretching over a kilometer in length. Shelters, passageways strung 20 meters (65 feet) in the air, stairways, and bridges added to the complexity of the maze.

 

untitled2-z3gPhoto: Jo Farb Hernández, 2009

 

untitled3-5m7Photos: Jo Farb Hernández, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the last fifteen years Pujiula also constructed a lyrical fountain area in concrete and iron, increasing the durability of his work and the immortality of his name. Hugging the hillside and ornamented with kinetic steel and stone sculptures, these cascading ponds finished in a natural pool below.

 

 

 

untitled4Photo: Jo Farb Hernández, 2007

Most recently, he hacked out his own “Pharaonic Tomb” from the rocky hillside with simple hand tools, covering the exterior façade as well as the interior walls with hieroglyphics that represented images from his life.

 

untitled5Photo: Sam Hernández 2016

 Pujiula’s creation of one of the most spectacular and extensive art environments anywhere defied traditional community norms of aesthetics and function, yet enjoyment of his site by visitors ultimately became crucial to his continued efforts. Finally, after decades fighting the authorities, in October 2014 Pujiula’s site was officially recognized as a local heritage site, a worthy recipient of county funding and support. And in the summer of 2015 he was a finalist for the International Award for Public Art, representing all of Europe including the Russian Federation. He was flown down to New Zealand for the award ceremony, his first major trip beyond Catalunya.

In recent weeks Pujiula manifested a creative explosion that astonished his family. “He was thinking only about building,” his son-in-law wrote me three weeks ago, “as if it would be the last act and legacy of his life.”

 

 

Mr. Imagination exhibit at Intuit named one of 10 best in the United States

Posted in Self-Taught Arts in the News
unnamed-4Photo courtesy Intuit.

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art’s Welcome to the World of Mr. Imagination exhibit was recognized as one of the 10 best exhibits in the United States in 2015 by Hyperallergic, an online art forum with global reach.

 

In the article awarding Intuit the eighth spot on the list, Hyperallergic contributor Benjamin Sutton captures the spirit of the exhibit with the line: “Amid all the staffs, thrones, busts, talismans, and religious figures, one felt truly immersed in an alternate universe of boundless optimism and constant celebration-yet not without its share of hardship and pain.” 


Welcome to the World of Mr. Imagination was originally scheduled to be on view at Intuit Jan. 9-April 25, 2015, and then extended through May 24, 2015, due to the exhibit’s popularity. Curated by Martha Henry, this exhibition was the first Chicago retrospective since the death of the artist known as Mr. Imagination (Gregory Warmack, 1948-2012), whose career spanned more than 30 years. Chicago was Mr. Imagination’s hometown and where he developed and matured as an artist. The diverse collection surveyed the nationally-recognized artist’s career, incorporating sculptures, furniture, accessories and his signature bottle cap pieces.

 

“Mr. Imagination was a messenger who preached that the power of art can transform lives and transcend adversity,” notes Henry. “I am gratified that Intuit supported my vision of bringing to life Mr. Imagination’s extraordinary world where art and artist were inseparable.” 

 

 

mr-i-at-home2220267729oPhoto of Mr. Imagination by Kelly Ludwig.

Established in 1991, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art is the only nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated solely to presenting self-taught and outsider art-with world class exhibitions; resources for scholars and students; a collection of more than 1,100 works of art; the Henry Darger Room Collection; the Robert A. Roth Study Center, a non-circulating collection with a primary focus in the fields of outsider and contemporary self-taught art; and educational programming for people of all interest levels and backgrounds.

 

SPACES readers can view images of work by Mr. Imagination by photographer Kelly Ludwig in our Online Collection HERE. If you are interested in contributing your own images, ephemera, or writing to SPACES Archives regarding this artist and his site, you may submit them HERE

 

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