Outsider Art Comes In

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Born in Arizona and raised in California, Futerer grew up in an artistic family and pursued a modeling career in Manhattan with the Ford Modeling Agency. When she began looking around the art world, though, she wasn’t drawn to the classical forms, but to the rawness of outsider art, a genre of art created by untrained or self-taught artists. She started first buying the works of a single artist, but as her knowledge of the genre grew, so did the number of artists whose works lined her walls. “I started collecting outsider art like a fiend and it took over my house so I decided to open a museum and to share it because I wasn’t willing to part with it,” she said.

When she finally had the opportunity to meet with some of the artists, she found that they were willing to let her sell their works. So six years ago she opened an art gallery, The Outsiders Gallery, in Litchfield.–photo1L– She later tired of paying rent and closed that gallery to operate exclusively over the Internet. But now, having found a suitable space in Cornwall Bridge, Futerer is preparing to give The Outsiders Art Gallery a physical presence once again. The gallery will reopen at its new Cornwall Bridge location Saturday.May 15. Her new gallery is in a 2,400-square-foot space attached to the home she shares with her fiance, Dana Gingras, a steel and glass artist she met when he showed in her previous gallery. Several of Gingras’ works will be displayed at the gallery opening and he plans on offering glass blowing demonstrations at a later date. The space formerly housed an antique shop, but had fallen into some disrepair. “What they started with was beautiful and great, but we had to bring it back,” said Futerer.

It is now a simple space with wooden floors, its walls and ceiling beams painted white. It is the perfect backdrop to the art, which ranges from the fanciful to the downright scary. On the one hand are the sculptures of bronze and wood artist Armand Saiia. Outside the gallery – in a space which will become a sculpture garden – one of Saiia’s sculptures, a ladder-like series of bone-like forms cast in bronze, hangs from a chain attached to the branch of a tree. Inside, two of his carved wooden torsos are bound in chains.

On the lighter side are wire animal sculptures created by Alec Wirth, Futerer’s 12-year old son. Wirth, a seventh-grader at St. Margaret’s-McTernan School in Waterbury, takes single strands of wire and twists them into animal shapes. Even at his age, Wirth has sold several pieces of his work and even had a hand in finding another of the artists taking part in the gallery opening – his teacher, Russell Brockmann. Brockmann, who chairs the school’s middle and upper school art department, is a painter and sculptor. Futerer learned of him when Wirth brought home some images of his work that he had shared in school.

“He has these huge pieces and they’re beautiful. The only place he’s shown is Vogue magazine because his wife works there and he was able to hang them in her office,” Futerer said. The gallery’s opening show will run until the end of June. After that, Futerer plans to rotate new shows about every two months.

The gallery also features works by Howard Finster, Missionary Mary Proctor, Miz Thang, R A Miller, Jimmy Lee Sudduth and other respected outsider artists.