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Monday, March 26, 2012

Dean Jensen's Outsider Art

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Dean Jensen Gallery is now a 25-year tradition in Milwaukee's modern art scene. Just before the gallery opened in 1987, Russell Bowman, then executive director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, introduced Jensen to the wonders of  “outsider art.” Bowman's integration of self-taught artists with schooled artists fascinated Jensen, he says, making him realize the value of collecting the works of these artists he calls “lone wolves.”

Thus began a love of the genre for Jensen. For the past 19 years he has made an annual trip to New York's Outsider Art Fair. This April Jensen presents the gallery's yearly outsider-art exhibition, “Naives, Seers, Lone Wolves and World Savers.”

The exhibition features 30-plus works from 15 outsider artists, including visionary watercolorist Joseph Yoakum, Mose Tolliver and Howard Finster. Jensen says his collection also includes work from “the late, great Rev. Josephus Farmer.” Farmer's magnificent bas-relief sculpture highlights Eli Whitney's invention, the cotton gin.

In the upper gallery, Jensen presents two other exhibitions: Madison artist Sally Hutchison's “The Shangri-La Project,” which applies abstract paintings and images to vintage linen books, and Jim Dine's “Winter Dream,” a select suite of black-and-white etchings by the esteemed 77-year-old Pop artist. Jensen hosts a reception 6-9 p.m. April 20 for all three exhibitions.

The MAM is also hosting an outsider art exhibition, “Accidental Genius,” on display through May 6.

Also at the MAM is its annual four-day event celebrating art and flowers, “Art in Bloom,” March 29-April 1. The event includes a 5:30 p.m. reception Thursday, March 29, and features demonstrations, lectures and other special programming. For more information, call 414-224-3803 or visit www.mam.org.

Art Happenings

“Drawing the Line”

Gallery 224

224 E. Main St., Port Washington

Leah Schreiber, Jason Yi, Hal Rammel and Leslie Vansen explore the line in this exhibition that opens with a 5-7 p.m. reception March 30. (www.gallery224.org.)

The Veterans Book Project

UW-Parkside Foundations Gallery

900 Wood Road, Kenosha

Artist Monica Haller works with veterans and their families to create one-of-a-kind softbound books reflecting their war experiences. This traveling exhibition continues through May 12.

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