Exhibition spotlights Outsider art by self-taught Florida artists

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Exhibition spotlights Outsider art by self-taught Florida artists
John Gerdes (American, 1913-2001), Untitled, n.d. Collage. 11 x 14 inches. Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection.

TAMPA, FLA.- The Tampa Museum of Art presents An Irresistible Urge to Create: Florida Outsider Art from the Monroe Family Collection, an exhibition organized by the Boa Raton Museum of Art, from November 4 through May 22, 2022. The exhibition includes 86 works and features objects by several self-taught artists from Florida’s West Coast and Central region.

During the last several decades, the work of the Outsider artists has come to the forefront of our thinking about the nature of art as their paintings and sculptures have made their way into fine art museums hanging alongside new and time-tested paintings and sculptures. The exhibition shows part of the personal collection of Gary Monroe, who has collected nearly one thousand pieces of Outsider Art, including the works of Ruby Williams, Eddy Mumma, Frank Ritchie, and Jessie Aaron.

In talking about what inspired him to start the Monroe Family Collection, South Florida-based photographer and art collector, Gary Monroe said, “it’s really about the spirit embodied in this work by Florida artists. The work by these artists always intrigued me because it goes against the grain, so it’s fresh, wild, and intuitive. It has all the things you don’t learn in a formal education.”

Joanna Robotham, the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Tampa Museum of Art, explained that “this exhibition highlights how Florida has its own unique artistic tradition.” She continued, “we couldn’t be more excited to bring this show to the Tampa Museum of Art and partner with our sister institutions across the state to highlight and celebrate the extraordinary self-taught artists in Florida.”

A publication accompanies the exhibition with an essay by Gary Monroe, a discussion by Boca Raton Museum of Art Senior Curator Kathy Goncharov about the changing nomenclature of self-taught and folk artists, an in-depth essay by Tampa Museum of Art curator Joanna Robotham, and a specially commissioned poem by Campbell McGrath about artists’ urge to create.

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