by Tom Patterson
Reclamation and Transformation is the 104-page catalogue that accompanied a 1994 exhibition of three self-taught Chicago artists at the Terra Museum of American Art. In addition to residency status and lack of formal art school training, all three artists share the common denominator of creating their works from found materials. The best known artist is Gregory Warmack, better known by his pseudonym, Mr. Imagination. Mention of Warmack is usually accompanied by the legend that he turned to art after being shot and lapsing into a coma, where he had visions of himself in past lives as African kings. However, this biographical profile debunks that myth. (Although Warmack does say here that shortly before he was shot, he had a premonition of himself in a regal outfit with a crown.) Warmack's art ranges from sandstone carvings to bottle cap creations to discarded paintbrushes painted and molded to look like people with very tall crew cuts. Transplanted Buckeye Kevin Orth's section features the painted and decorated discarded bottles that comprise King Orthy's Cathedral of Dreams, as well as his wood assemblages and hubcap faces. David Philpot rounds out the trio, discussing his staffs carved from ailanthus trees, embellished with mirrors, glass eyes, cowry shells and inticate entwined snakes. Each artist receives 6-8 pages of biographical material, extensively quoting from interviews with the artists, written by exhibit curator Tom Patterson. The essays are followed by 10-14 pages of color photos of each artist's work. Essential to any fan of these artists, as well as a worthy addition to the growing field of outsider art....
Paperback: 104 pages