July 10 - September 26, 2015
Opening Reception July 10, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Curated by Leonard Cicero and Heather J. Holbus

Untitled (Woman in Red & Yellow), Tempera on cardboard, 22 x 16 inches, Collection of Intuit, Gift of the Zakoian Family, 2007.5.45

Dating back to the 5th century, pages of manuscripts were often reused by scraping away the text from a page before using it again to create a new document. These palimpsests often left faint traces of earlier writings. Occasionally, multiple layers of phantom text could be seen, leaving visual reminders of what had once been but was now transformed.

Badaskhan “Betty” Zakoian, a self-taught Armenian artist, documented the extraordinary trials and triumphs of her life through art. Born Badaskhan Ermoyan in 1908, Betty’s story is marked by the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which the Turkish government does not acknowledge to this day. Between 1915 and 1923, over one million Armenians were killed in the first genocide of the twentieth century. Zakoian’s parents were victims. Betty and her brothers were slated for evacuation by train but following a bathroom break, the train departed, leaving Betty completely on her own. Just seven years old, she walked along the train tracks until she arrived in Greece. Taken in by an orphanage run by American missionaries, she stayed there for ten years. Eventually, Betty found work as a domestic and relocated to Alexandria, Egypt, where she worked for four years before joining her half-brother in France. Following an arranged marriage to Mgrditch (Mike) Zakoian, Betty and her growing family immigrated to Chicago in 1937.

In the late 1950s, with her four children grown, Betty began to chronicle her past journeys and memories through art. She illustrated the harassment she faced at the hands of the Turks, the wild dogs she had to compete with for food, and the long walk from Armenia to Greece.

In presenting Palimpsest, the curators strive to tell the untold story of a remarkable outsider artist who persevered in the wake of tragedy and upheaval to live a full and meaningful life. Zakoian’s paintings function as a visual diary, chronicling the events of her past in a manner that reveals a desire to express her personal understanding of identity and experience.

Intuit is grateful to the Thomas McCormick Gallery and the Zakoian family for their generous gift of Betty’s work to Intuit’s permanent collection.

*Intuit thanks Revolution Brewing and The Frame Shop for their generous support of this exhibition.

The Intuit Collection

June 19 - September 4, 2015

Simon Sparrow, Untitled (Assemblage), Collection of Intuit, Gift of Lael and Eugenie Johnson, 2006.1

Intuit began collecting and preserving art from outsiders and self taught visionaries in 2007. Each year Intuit generously receives donations of work that strengthen the representative capabilities of its permanent collection.

This exhibition showcases some recent gifts, promised gifts and strong works that have rarely been displayed, including works by Reverend Howard Finster, Wesley Willis, Mose Tolliver, William Hawkins, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Derek Webster and many others.


September 11, 2015 - January 3, 2016

Curated by Jan Petry

Caroline Demangel
, Untitled, Mixed media on paper,
 25 x 19 inches, Courtesy of Cavin-Morris Gallery, Photograph by Jurate Veceraite.

A line in the sand, a scratch on rock, a mark on parchment – drawing is the most basic of artistic expression, be it primitive or refined. Self-taught artists, working independently of the art world canon for generations, have visualized their world with pencil, pen and brush.

dRAW focuses on important works from generations past: Martin Ramirez, Henry Darger, August Walla, and Friedrich Schoder-Sonnentstern and more expansively on the new generation of self-taught artists whose work remains authentic and visionary while representative of contemporary times: Chris Hipkiss, Lubos Plny, Dan Miller, Daniel Martin Diaz, George Widener, Genievieve Seille, and Günter Schützenhöfer among others.

Mad as Hell: The Collages of Richard Saholt

October 2, 2015 - January 3, 2016

Curated by Michael Bonesteel

Intuit presents an exhibition of collages by World War II veteran Richard Saholt (1924-2014) of Minneapolis. Saholt achieved a modest kind of fame in the 1990s and early 21st century for creating large-format collages that combined lurid commercial illustrations with powerful words and phrases appropriated from printed magazine and newspaper headlines. Although most of his works are untitled, they are all marked by key phrases such as “Wild Hell Assault Company,” “My Life 30 Years Later, Memories of War Remain,” “Attack, The Blood Bath,” “Night Never Ending,” and “Stress, Sanity and Survival.”

Traumatized as a child by his sadistic father, the already psychologically damaged young man enlisted in the US Army’s elite Tenth Mountain Ski Troop Division and earned a Bronze Star for bravery, but he returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder and was subsequently diagnosed with chronic undifferentiated schizophrenia. When the Veterans’ Administration refused to recognize and assist Saholt with the mounting physical and mental problems that he felt were exacerbated by his combat experiences, his anger and frustration increased.

He finally turned to expressing himself by collaging text and pictures in obsessively composed compositions that shrieked of the terror of war and the horror of mental illness. As Saholt poured out his rage into these passionate works of art, the viewer finds respite only by focusing on their intricate lyrical beauty. In this respect, such works fit in with some of the most extreme forms of traditional art brut.

In addition to the above subjects, Saholt devoted a number of collages to famous celebrity figures such as Prince Charles and Lady Diana, Anwar Sadat, Pope Paul II, Natalie Wood, John Belushi and John Wayne Gacy, as well as socially and politically charged topics like gun control, cigarette smoking, child abduction and Watergate. On several occasions, the artist took to collaging folders inside and out, and filling them with numerous sheets of smaller collage works. In one instance, he collaged nearly every page of a psychology textbook with images and autobiographical writings, titling it: “The Richard Saholt Story.”

Upon his death, Saholt bequeathed outsider art historian and author Michael Bonesteel a sizable number of his collages, and it from this collection that Bonesteel has selected the work in this show.

Intuit’s 2014-15 Teacher Fellowship Program Student Art Exhibition

May 16 - July 2, 2015

TFP Student Art Exhibition Postcard

Intuit presents an exhibition showcasing student participants in Intuit’s 2014-2015 Teacher Fellowship Program. Inspired by self-taught and outsider art, students transform found and non-traditional materials to reflect their own visions. Teachers and students represented in the exhibition are from 11 participating Chicago Public Schools, including: Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School, Columbus Elementary School, John W. Garvy Elementary, Lincoln Park High School, Henry Lloyd Elementary, Jose Clemente Orozco Academy, Nettelhorst Elementary School, New Sullivan Elementary, Suder Montessori, Vaughn Occupational High School and Thomas J. Waters Elementary.

Intuit’s Teacher Fellowship Program is sponsored in part by generous grants from Crown Family Philanthropies, Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, Polk Bros Foundation and Terra Foundation for American Art.