by Jacqueline Lyoussi
Hugging the northern side of an unassuming block on Henry street in Manhattan's Chinatown, visitors come upon Shrine gallery, an open and inviting space featuring vibrant outsider and contemporary art. On view until March 5th is the exhibition Ike Morgan: The Hospital Years. Curated by Matthew Higgs, the show examines the earliest artwork created by Texas artist Ike E. Morgan (b.1958) who was held in the Austin State Hospital for severe schizophrenia for nearly two and a half decades. During this time, Morgan turned to available materials to produce portraits reminiscent of American presidents and contemporaneous pop culture icons of the 70s and 80s.
Recalling art historical precedents such as Art Brut and Fauvism, these brilliantly colored artworks evoke the heightened presence of these storied figures, depicting them with strong colors and a decidedly painterly approach. Ike Morgan is a figure who has gained renown in recent years as Outsider Art has become a serious field of scholarly inquiry. Morgan's work is included in numerous private collections as well as in the current exhibit Known/Unknown: Private Obsession and Hidden Desire at the Museum of Sex (New York City), and he appears as one of 4 artists profiled in the film, Make. Shrine is currently collecting a wide array of art materials from the public - pencils, paper, pastels, paint and more - which will be donated upon the show's closing to the artist to work with.
Gallery Director Scott Ogden sat down with us to walk through the Ike Morgan exhibition as well as the gallery's history and Shrine's upcoming presence at 2017 NADA Art Fair in the fair's Project Space area:
ANTE.: Thanks for sitting down with us today! So can you tell us a bit about Shrine's history and focus as an Outsider Art gallery?
Scott: Sure! I started collecting Outsider Art while attending The University of Texas at Austin pursuing my BFA after attending a lecture on Texas prison art in the early 1990s, which really sparked my interest in the subject. I met the gallerists at Webb Gallery (coincidentally, Webb gallery represents Ike Morgan's art in Texas), and also met Ike Morgan during that time. In 1994, I traveled through the South to Atlanta on a research travel grant meeting other folk artists along the way. This led to my interest in directing the film "Make", which is an entry to the world of American self-taught artists. This film generated interest in the subject, and led to an exhibition at the University of Texas and various lectures. SHRINE opened just over a year ago and focuses on exhibiting both outsider and contemporary art, with exhibits by artists like "Prophet" Royal Robertson and Ike Morgan. I showed at the Outsider Art Fair last year with a booth dedicated to Robertson and this year we'll be showing at NADA Art Fair as well to highlight an emerging contemporary artist that I'm working with.