courtesy UA Little Rock Windgate Center of Art + Design
“Tank Head” by buZ blurr, 2000, mixed media.

What defines a piece of art as “outsider” or “folk” can be pretty nebulous. Grounds for argument, even! The phrase “naive art” seems especially incomplete at best, insulting at worst, right? But one way to think about outsider art is that it’s created by people whose training didn’t happen in a mainstream art institution, or whose artmaking is removed from the network of galleries and auctions and collectors in the city centers of Paris and Tokyo and New York. It’s that spirit of artmaking that’s on display in October at UA Little Rock’s Windgate Center of Art and Design — as a press release put it, full of works from “creative people that have not always had representation in the established institutions of the art world. Their voices engage in spiritual storytelling, philosophical, political, and pop culture commentary. Functioning outside the social norms, these artists have important messages to communicate.”

UA Little Rock collection, gift of Ellis Widner
Burgess Dulaney’s “Frog Man,” unfired clay and marbles

Works on loan from 18 public and private collections in Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee and Michigan make up “A Visionary Vernacular Road Trip,” the first of a two-exhibition series curated by UA Little Rock Art Gallery Director Brad Cushman and made up of, a release states, “non-conventional work, including folk art, outsider art, and self-taught art, created by artists not formally trained.” The series, Cushman said, “features visionary makers of pictures and sculptural objects inspired by a divine spirit, as well as seemingly ordinary people making marks and transforming commonplace materials into extraordinary art to communicate messages to a keen observer.” Here’s a glimpse at some of the work therein:


It’s up through Sunday, Oct. 24, and accompanied by “The Road Trip Continues,” up until Dec. 1 in the Ann Maners and Alex Pappas Gallery in the Windgate Center. A reception for the two-part exhibition, free to attend, will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, in the Maners/Pappas Gallery. Cushman will give an ArtWorks lecture on the two exhibits at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8. The lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required via this link. The gallery will publish a catalog to accompany the exhibition.

The UA Little Rock Art Gallery is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., and patrons can make an appointment to visit the galleries outside of the public hours by contacting Cushman at or 501-916-5103.