What: "It Came From the Back Room!!!"
When: Through Feb. 21
Where: Lindsay Gallery, Short North
Loaded with pieces by the folk and outsider artists that owner Duff Lindsay represents, estate art and other storage, the space was never set up for public perusal. But the chance to sneak through the open doorway and catch a glimpse of a painting or sculpture before it's whisked off to a private collection or a show in a distant gallery is one that many of his patrons often take.
It makes you feel like you're being let in on a secret.
"Over the years, so many people have said that the back room is their favorite place in the gallery," said Lindsay. "They tell me, 'I feel like you're hiding all the treasures back there.'"
The back room has long been the pulse of Lindsay's business. While there are some Columbus collectors of the art he specializes in, the gallery's success is ultimately national.
Most of the sales that sustain the place are made through the back room's revolving stacks, while the gallery walls are often used to raise the profile of lesser-known artists. A long-standing reputation has earned Lindsay high-profile space at national events, including Folk Fest in Atlanta - one of the world's largest folk art shows.
The current exhibit, It Came From the Back Room!!!, is a rare treat, with a couple hundred paintings by multiple artists literally covering the gallery walls from ceiling to floor.
There are pieces by Ohio luminaries of the genre who have passed, like Elijah Pierce, Popeye Reed and William Hawkins, but also by many of the living artists that Lindsay works with, some of whom are rarely, if ever, shown locally.
One of those artists is San Francisco artist Jane "In Vain" Winkelman, who creates her haunting personal/political paintings while living on the edge of homelessness.
"I never have enough of Jane's work to have a Jane Winkelman show," said Lindsay. "She always lives painting to painting, so when she makes one, she needs to sell it."
The exhibit also reveals the wide variety of work that may fall into the category of folk/outsider art.
Winkelman's work might have an edge, as does the work of Irish artist Karl Mullen, who has many pieces in the show. But there are also the charming, periwinkle-infused childhood scenes of landscapes and circus acts from Newark, Ohio's Janis Price. Born in 1933, Price, whom Lindsay calls "an American memory painter in the Grandma Moses tradition," is also widely known, and has pieces in the Smithsonian.
Local artist Vivian Pittman has two captivating Barack Obama dolls and a couple of paintings of her Cleveland Avenue-area neighborhood in the show. She will have her own exhibit opening at Lindsay Gallery later this month, which will include Biblical paintings and a series of dolls depicting various historical figures in honor of Black History Month.
"People have a perception that they know what all folk and outsider art looks like, but I think a show like this shows that there are a number of styles," says Lindsay. "When someone tells me they don't like this kind of art, I have to imagine they simply haven't seen enough of it."