When one thinks of outsider art, the work of Henry Darger, Martin Ramirez, and Bill Traylor immediately comes to mind. Celebrated masters of medium, they are, however, all long dead. With the Outsider Art Fair returning to New York for its 21st year — under the new ownership of Andrew Edlin, and in a new location in the heart of Chelsea — we decided to comb the fair for self-taught artists who are still kicking. From former pot washers, cotton pickers, and gravediggers to protégés and political activists, the growing number of active outsider artists continues to keep this fragile art form vital today.
Inspired by the offbeat characters on the 1960s TV series The Addams Family and the costumed rock band KISS, self-taught artist Aurie Ramirez makes colorful watercolors that capture a fantasy world inhabited by eccentric people in theatrical getups. Born in the Philippines in 1962, Ramirez is one of many standout artists working with the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, CA.