Photo: Robert E. Smith (1927-2010), President Reagan's Visit to Wambatu Island, c. 1981, acrylic, pen, and ink on canvas, photo by Tom Ferris, copyright the artist.

Strange And Wonderful: American Folk Art From The Volkersz Collection

September 24 2013 - December 22 2013

Strange and Wonderful represents a selection of works from the collection gathered by Willem and Diane Volkersz. The Volkersz are artists and collectors and their self-taught, or folk art collection is truly a collaborative, life-long endeavor. This traveling exhibition represents a fraction of the hundreds of objects in the Volkersz collection and ranges from works by Alva Gene Dexhimer (1931–1984) to the Reverend Howard Finster (1916–2001).

The work included in the exhibition features drawings, paintings, constructions, and sculptures. Almost all of the artists are considered self-taught, or more specifically have a passion for their practice which functions without the support of instruction or academia. The consequence of this is obvious, direct, and honest expressions that are executed with sometimes the barest of materials. The Volkersz used a hands-on approach to their collecting by visiting, becoming acquainted with, and documenting the environments of many of these artists. The window of opportunity in which they collected these works is gone, for most of these artists are deceased. The language in which scholars frame this work is ever-changing. It is important to note that many significant collections of self-taught and folk art have found homes in American art institutions and MAM is pleased to host this slice of Americana.

The Volkersz Collection is itself a unique artwork. Many collections have been assembled by people from all walks of life, but this collection is different. Willem and Diane are artists and educators with an appreciation of creative innocence. They are extremely well-traveled, with a wealth of life experiences. They immersed themselves in these artist’s environments. This collection was assembled by disciplined and generous collectors with sensitivity to the attention that each of these oft-ignored artists deserves.

Strange and Wonderful: American Folk Art from the Volkersz Collection was curated by Sam Gappmayer of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Stephen Glueckert of MAM in consultation with Willem Volkersz. MAM is honored to present Folk Art scholar and essayist for the exhibition’s catalog, Tom Patterson. Patterson has published on outsider artist Rev. Howard Finster and is the author of Contemporary Folk Art: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. This traveling exhibition and catalog will be featured at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in 2014.

The MAM exhibition and catalog are generously supported by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. MAM would like to thank The Missoulian for their support. MAM also thanks Willem and Diane Volkersz for their willingness to share this collection.