Garde Rail Gallery - Specializing in Contemporary Self-Taught, Folk, and Outsider Art Self-Taught, Folk and Outsider Art email Garde Rail Gallery
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Garde Rail Gallery closed in Seattle, reopening in Austin!

After relocating the gallery around a few different neighborhoods in Seattle, we’ve been no strangers to moving. This time however, WE’RE REALLY MOVING.

Garde Rail is now calling Austin, TX "home"!

Read more.

Garde Rail Gallery : in short

Garde Rail Gallery specializes in work by contemporary folk, self-taught, outsider, visionary, and developmentally disabled artists from the Deep South, Midwest, East and West Coasts, as well as Canada and Great Britain. Garde Rail Gallery presents 10 shows per year from their gallery space in downtown Seattle (Pioneer Square). Garde Rail Gallery also curates exhibits in the Seattle area, as well as at art shows around the country. Garde Rail Gallery opened in June of 1998 by founders Karen Light and Marcus Piña.

Garde Rail Gallery : in depth

Garde Rail Gallery opened in June of 1998 in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. Specializing in what is known as self-taught, contemporary folk, and outsider art, Garde Rail is the only gallery with such focus in the Pacific Northwest, and one of a handful on the West Coast. Directors Karen Light and Marcus Piña represent 30 or so artists from the Northwest, Deep South, and other regions of the United States and Canada, and exhibit at shows in Atlanta and Chicago.

Karen and Marcus travel extensively to hand pick from artists in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio and the Carolinas. Many of these artists are included in major collections, museums, and traveling exhibits. Many of the artists are African American and all are self-taught. By maintaining a dynamic network with dealers, institutions, and collectors around the country, Karen & Marcus are able to exhibit a broad range of work in the field, from the newest exciting discoveries, to folk and outsider masters.

The gallery's initial vision was to create a venue in Seattle to show self-taught/visionary/folk/outsider art from the Deep South. Originally from Atlanta, Karen had been exposed to folk art for most of her life and had been collecting for nearly ten years before opening the gallery. In 1998, the MIA Gallery had just closed and the time seemed right to get Garde Rail off the ground.

The gallery is still dedicated to bringing folk art up from the Deep South, but is now also showing work from many other parts of the country, and Canada. In addition, finding Northwest self-taught artists has been ever important for the growth of the gallery and its relationship with the local and national art communities. When participating at art fairs in other parts of the country, Garde Rail makes it a point to fill the booth space with Northwest artists on their roster, thereby contributing to the field as a whole from an otherwise under-represented region.

Outsider art has risen in popularity dramatically over the last fifteen years. In the Deep South, contemporary folk art is prevalent throughout society, and some of folk art's greatest figures reside there. In the late 1970's, galleries in New York started to recognize the significance and importance of this work in regards to American culture, and the artists, as well as the movement, began to receive recognition.

Terminology in regards to Outsider art has proven to be just as controversial as the art itself. Originally, the work was termed art brut, which translates to raw art, and was in reference to a body of art by the clinically insane, collected throughout Europe in the 1920's by French artist Jean Dubuffet. In the late 1960's, British writer Roger Cardinal termed the phrase "outsider art", which broadened the scope to include not only those within institutions, but to artists on the fringes of society. This would envelope artists with physical and developmental disabilities, artists in the rural South creating art influenced directly by their surroundings (contemporary folk art, or vernacular art), artists with often obsessive and divine visions (visionary art), and artists with little or no formal art training (self-taught art). The artists, with few exceptions, are self-taught with little formal art training.

Garde Rail Gallery also maintains an extensive web site, which is one of the longest running art web sites in the field. You may find artist biographies and photographs, and archived online exhibits. Links to other outsider resources are listed, and a vast majority of the gallery inventory is available for purchase and updated frequently. The gallery ships art internationally via the web site.

In August of 2004, Garde Rail Gallery opened the doors to it's new 1100 sq. ft. space in Historic Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle.

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