September 11, 2015 - January 3, 2016
Curated by Jan Petry

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.

The dRAW catalog below, designed by David Syrek and with an essay by Tom Patterson, is a perfect companion to the exhibit.

Click below to view the exhibition catalog.

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.

Click here to view photos of the exhibition on Flickr.

The Art of Badaskhan “Betty” Zakoian

July 10 - September 26, 2015
Co-curated by Leonard Cicero and Heather Holbus

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, of which Zakoian’s parents were victims. Just seven years old, Betty was separated from her brothers during an evacuation and 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. Palimpsest tells the untold story of a remarkable outsider artist who persevered in the wake of tragedy and upheaval to live a full and meaningful life.


June 19- December 5, 2015

This exhibition showcases select 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.

Welcome to the World of Mr. Imagination

January 9 - May 25, 2015
Curated by Martha Henry

The third of nine children, Gregory Warmack was born in Chicago in 1948. Growing up on Chicago’s Southside, he spent his free time in his early years making jewelry, decorative objects and other small works from found objects for spending money.During his recovery from a mugging, he had an out of body experience that led him to dedicate himself to a new regenerative art for the people and began to call himself “Mr. Imagination.” Mr. Imagination quickly became a nationally recognized public artist. Following the death of his brother in 1997, Warmack moved in 2001 to Bethlehem, PA, where he continued to produce. In 2008, while he was working on a commission in Florida, Warmack’s home, gallery, collections and art studio were gutted by a fire. Following the fire, Warmack relocated to northwest Atlanta, GA. In his process to heal from the loss of his home and art, he began to incorporate the surviving burned pieces into new sculptures. Mr. Imagination passed away in May of 2012. Telling the story not only of his life in Chicago, the exhibition includes early experimental pieces, his signature bottle cap work, as well as some of his last works which utilized remnants from the 2008 fire.

Click here to watch a video on the exhibition produced by Chicago Tonight.

Click here to view photos of the exhibition on Flickr.