Monday, August 4, 2008


This is an exhibit at the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah, through September 7. The genre is not one of my favorites, but I have to give the curators credit for putting together an exhibit that shows the diversity of themes and approaches. The works range from 1970s through now, the artists are all northern Californian.

My objection to a lot of visionary art is actually to one manifestation of it: paintings that combine hyper-real attention to minute detail with garish color and symbolism or representation so obvious it is trite - in short, bad science fiction book cover art. And yeah, that school of visionary art is represented here.

But there were some very pleasant surprises too. Janet Rayner's "Threshold" is beautifully painted - the quality of light in it is masterful and evocative. The surreal landscapes of Bill Martin could just about cross the line into sci fi book art, but they manage to be utterly believable little worlds in their own right, and fascinating to contemplate entering. There were a couple of other peices that struck me in their vision and artistry, but I neglected to make adequate notes the day I was there.

The Grace Museum is hosting a panel discussion, What is Visionary Art?, on Saturday August 23, at 1 pm.


Nancy Ewart said...

Were they showing any work by Norman Stiegelmeyer? He was one of my teachers at the SFAI and I think he probably coined the word. He certainly gave it real meaning. He passed away at far too young an age but I think about his art and his teaching a lot; he was one of a kind.

Anonymous said...

No, there's a complete artist list on the museum website. Actually, I believe it is all the work of living artists who have them available for sale.