Sarah Jane Perkins untitled 13, Guarde-rail Gallery, Austin Texas

Sarah Jane Perkins untitled 13, Guarde-rail Gallery, Austin Texas

Outsider art. I just learned the term the other day. These self-taught artists boast no formal training. One branch of this gutsy tree is “folk art.” Fresh, approachable and without pretense. In a word – charming.

The formal art world shuns them and you won’t see their work in museums (yet). Some are autistic, some finished school at 7th grade, most are normal people like you and me. They work in paint, embroidery, and old mop handles. The fine art establishment doesn’t know what to do with them. But we do.

We love their boisterous individualism, deep roots and “connectedness.” We admire the moxy with which they occupy their their garages, kitchen tables and backyards, just making art.

When I saw this it reminded me of Swedish embroidery. I thought “fresh” and “cozy.” I smell the cut grass, and hear bees buzzing. The green turquoise line and simple flower symmetries dissolve my anxiety mountain of post holiday to-do’s. Cheers me up. Simplifies happy. I found out through later research that this was drawing for a quilt Ms. Perkins planned. So “cozy” works too. .

Irises to arms!

Irises Vincent van Gogh 1889 Getty Center Los Angeles California

Irises Vincent van Gogh 1889 Getty Center Los Angeles California

Last week we celebrated the return of the daffodils; this week I’m all about irises.  I’ve noticed the ruffled puffs of white floating here and there around town and they reminded me of this beauty of van Gogh’s.  A product of his Arles period, van Gogh painted the irises while battling mental instability, as a patient of  the St. Remy asylum.  Wandering through their spring gardens, these drew his eye and brush.

I’m so glad because if any flower deserves glory these do. However their usual rendering is pallidly romantic.  These are ravenous irises, marching across the canvas.  Their  leaves like sworded tongues seem intent on devouring the cobalt blooms.  The petals of the flowers in motion, waggle and chatter nervously back and forth.

The rigorous twist of the flowers is calmed by a horizontal three part structure, brown earth at bottom, green/blue irises middle, yellow field a top.  An angled thrust of blue irises though the earth section keeps things interesting, by giving us the feeling that we have just come upon this scene.  It’s not staged like past still life representations.

Waving a white flag, a fair iris stands in lone opposition to the fray. A message of peace perhaps. To savor tranquility, before the sun’s heat takes all.