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The Vernacular of Tom Patterson

Art is ubiquitous in everyday life. We encounter it practically from birth, even if it doesn’t always speak to us. Critic and curator Tom Patterson knows this. And so he considers carefully my question about the first piece of art that spoke to him. “Aside from animated cartoons, comics and other graphic imagery for kids […]

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The Shoes that Make the Painting

Shawn Payne is quiet, but you’d never know it from his art. Throughout the studio at Art Enables in Washington, DC, Shawn’s pieces are instantly recognizable for their color, embellishments, and subject matter: designer shoes. When I arrived, Shawn was working on a drawing for the upcoming Art Enables show on Valentine’s Day. In the […]

Norbert Kox REvelation and the Perfect Plague

Apocalyptic Surrealism and Selected Works of Norbert H. Kox

I am a visionary artist working in the category of Apocalyptic Surrealism. The works reveal things not only to my viewers but also to me. My art has taken me on a forty-year journey of self awareness and spiritual growth. I’ve been painting since 1963, when I taught myself to use oils. Today much of […]

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From Protractors to Paint Brushes

It all started with a check. Tom Yezza was bored at his desk during a grade school lesson and started to doodle. He drew one line, then another, and eventually a curve. When he was done, he had a figure that looked similar to the Nike logo, but “way cooler,” according to Tom. It was […]

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Folk Art and Service

For 65-year-old folk artist Elias Telles, art is about joy. He tells you this with his words, but he convinces you with his laugh. His words tell you about the time a 21-year-old Elias found himself captivated by a public access TV show about Leonardo da Vinci. “It really opened up a new world to […]

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Love (and Celebrity) Makes a Family

Today is Christina Marie Fong’s forty-eighth birthday, which for her means two things: Hawaiian punch and Hawaiian pizza. “I’m going to become one big Hawaiian papaya,” she says, pounding the table and grinning a mischievous grin. The archipelago’s legendary status as a playground for the rich and beautiful fits well with Christina’s persona: bold, colorful, […]

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Mingering Mike: A Little-Known Soul Superstar

Just after dawn at a flea market in 2003, Dori Hadar, a Washington-based criminal investigator and soul record aficionado, was digging through crates in search for rare finds to add to his 10,000 piece record collection when he came across an assortment of over 100 records by a soul superstar he had never heard of: […]

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There Are Many Sides to the Story of Paula Nadelstern

Nadelstern spent her first fifteen years as an artist working at her kitchen table. As a quilter, she drew on a centuries-old tradition of women creating one fabric square at a time, using whatever space and free moments and materials they had to practice their craft, whose main purpose was to keep their family warm. […]


A Resource in the National Arts and Disability Center

Ask Dr. Olivia Raynor, director of UCLA’s National Arts and Disability Center, NADC, about the biggest decision they made when founding the center and she’ll tell you about something they didn’t do. “One of the most important decisions we made was to exclude art therapy and the use of the arts for rehabilitation purposes as […]


The Hahn Collection and Self-Taught Art at the High Museum

After only four years as a painter, Georgian artist Mattie Lou O’Kelley sold a piece called “Spring Vegetable Scene” to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. It was 1975, and O’Kelley was 64. Before becoming a professional artist, she had been a farmer, seamstress, cook, waitress, and millworker. With a ninth grade education and […]

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Constellations of Art Telling the Story of America: A Conversation with Leslie Umberger

Leslie Umberger, Curator of Folk and Self-taught Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., has been interested in art and history for as long as she can remember. While attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she became critical of the established art world’s emphasis on the achievement of commercial […]


Dragon Girl: Finding Peace and Fostering Community through Art

Nicole Vanston has developmental disabilities, she lives below the poverty line, and she takes care of her mother who has multiple sclerosis. “She doesn’t come out that much, and she has a hard time standing up,” Nicole says of her mother. Damon McLeese, the executive director of the VSA arts of Colorado/ Access Gallery (VSAC) […]