2023 Outsider Art Fair is this weekend

Paul Laffoley paintings of Elvis


As I mentioned the other day, the 2023 Outsider Art Fair is taking place this weekend, and it’s a great show as always. I had a chance to attend the press preview, and wanted to share some of my favorite things.

First, a little more information on the fair: hours today are 11:00am – 8:00pm, and tomorrow the hours are 11:00am – 6:00pm. Metropolitan Pavilion, the location of the fair, is at 125 West 18th Street, between 7th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan. You can get more details in the link above, as far as attending in person; if you are out of town but still have an interest, they have online viewing rooms available here through March 31st, 2023, which includes links for every exhibitor at the fair.

This first piece I want to share is titled “Our Future Retirement Home,” by Gregory Horndeski. This piece was one of many presented by bG Gallery, based in Santa Monica. The artist was actually present in the booth as I walked through, and explained that this piece is a variation of a pinball machine, and gave me a demo: he put a ball in the white tube in the lower right corner, pulled the plunger, and sent the ball up through the tube, which dropped it into the painted playing field from the top. There were numerous wire “bumpers” that would move the ball in different directions, but it was Horndeski’s explanation that really made it for me: I can’t quote him exactly, but he made the point that this pinball game was like life in that the ball can bounce in different directions and have different experiences, but at the end, it reaches the bottom and gets deposited in this cup (representing a coffin) “underground.”

Gregory Horndeski art
“Our Future Retirement Home,” by Gregory Horndeski at the 2023 Outsider Art Fair.

A little bit about the artist, Gregory Horndeski: as a college student, he was studying physics, but took a trip to Europe in 1969 during his junior year and discovered the work of Van Gogh while he was there, which convinced him that what he should be doing with his life was painting. However, he continued with his studies in math and physics, and in 1973 earned his Ph.D. in Applied Math at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. His journey between math, physics, and painting gets a little complicated, so perhaps it is best to let him tell the rest of the story, which you can read here on his website.

Another interesting display was a special presentation titled “The Life and Death of Elvis Presley: A Suite,” by visionary American artist and architect Paul Laffoley. The series of eight paintings, completed in 1995, represents the artist’s interpretation of the distinct phases in the life of Elvis Presley, and each work is outfitted with a brass rod and a set of velvet drapes that can conceal or reveal the painting. In addition to the large scale portrait of Elvis on each painting, the lower section included very meticulous notes with columns of specific years followed by date-specific notes about events in the life and career of Elvis. It’s a very intensive and comprehensive look at the whole life of Elvis, one could spend a lot of time reading everything about these distinct phases as outlined by Laffoley.

Paul Laffoley paintings of Elvis
“The Life and Death of Elvis Presley: A Suite,” by Paul Laffoley at the 2023 Outsider Art Fair.

More on this artist, as per the Outsider Art Fair press release: “Paul Laffoley is often referred to as a visionary artist who merged his interests in philosophy, literature, science fiction, architecture and spirituality within the practice of painting. For more than 40 years, his work has defied art historical categories in creating a visionary interpretation of the complex world in which we live.” You can learn more about his on his website here.

This barely scratches the surface of what all is at the 2023 edition of the Outsider Art Fair in NYC … if you can get over there today or tomorrow, I highly recommend it. I’ll post more highlights from the fair again soon.

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