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Take Me to the River

September 15 - January 6, 2006


Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art will commemorate its 15 Year Anniversary with an exhibition, a catalogue, and a symposium series. The event, titled "Take Me to the River," will be held from September 15 - January 6, 2006, with an opening reception at Intuit on Friday, September 15, 5:00 - 9:00 pm (756 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago.)

Curated by Ken Burkhart, the exhibition celebrates the life and spirit of Intuit. "Take Me to the River" will examine the art of the 60s and 70s, a time that witnessed a convergence of energy in Chicago that shed light on the wondrous and enigmatic creations of self-taught artists such as William Dawson, Lee Godie, Aldo Piacenza, Drossos Skyllas, Justin McCarthy, and Joseph Yoakum, among others. Through related symposia and an exhibition catalogue, "Take Me to the River" will bring together some of the artists, historians, curators and collectors who inspired the birth of Intuit.

"This exhibition highlights those artists and artworks that have helped to define the foundation of our appreciation for this genre of unencumbered and unique expression we so fully regard today. This show pays homage to both those who made the works and those who brought us to this ever-flowing river of wonder and spirit," said Burkart.

Intuit's 15th Anniversary Symposia, held in conjunction with the exhibition, will explore Chicago's cultural landscape in the early years, the emergence of outsider art in Chicago, and the relationship of both to Intuit's development and ever-growing membership.

James Yood, Professor of Art Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will moderate the discussions with each panel examining the multi-dimensional perspectives that surround the history and the cultural climate of Chicago.

"Systems of inclusion are preferable to those of exclusion when playing at cultural gatekeeping," states Yood. "Chicago is the place that examined the implications in the argument that there was more raw and exciting cultural energy riffing through Maxwell Street than will ever be found on Michigan Avenue."


15th Anniversary Symposia dates:

Saturday, September 16, 4:00pm
The History
Discussion will place the unique history of Chicago in the epicenter of the outsider and self-taught art movement. A reception with the panelists follows at 6 pm.
Saturday, October 14, 1:30pm
The Collector
Examines the role that Chicago collectors and artists played in the development of the cultural landscape of outsider art in the 60s through the 80s.
Saturday, November 4, 4:00pm
The Curator
Traces how curators embraced and promoted the work of outsider artists in the context of Chicago's galleries and museums


Curator's statement for the exhibit:


-Kid Mertz


Take Me To The River
Artists in the early years of Chicago collecting who have inspired the birth of Intuit
Take Me To The River is a glimpse into the early years of collecting outsider art in Chicago. Planned in celebration of the 15th anniversary of Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, this exhibition highlights those artists and artworks that have helped to define the foundation of our appreciation for this genre of unencumbered and unique expression we so fully regard today. This show pays homage to both those who made the works and those who brought us to this ever-flowing river of wonder and spirit.
To help us along this journey, we are fortunate to have the accompanying essays by Chicagoans James Yood and Michael Bonesteel. Yood takes on the philosophical question of "Why Chicago?" pondering the elements of time and place within the context of the contemporary art scene at that moment. Bonesteel, on the other hand, outlines the seminal role that the early collectors played in both their interaction with one another and their contact with some of the artists who created these works. It is through both writings that we are brought to the celebration of unbridled creativity and the meaningful place it holds for all who have joined in the discovery. It is out of this history that Intuit was born, raised and continues to grow.
I would like to thank Intuit, its board of directors and its members for giving me the opportunity to delve into this slice of Chicago art history. Most notably Jan Petry, Lisa Stone, Cleo Wilson, Susann Craig, Russell Bowman, Jerry Stefl and Marjorie Freed; each provided support and direction along the way. Additionally, conversations with Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum, Lori Gunn, Don Baum, Phil Hanson, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ray Yoshida, Carl Hammer, Mark Jackson and Mike Noland helped shape the project, and for that I express my sincere appreciation.
The Intuit staff were unflagging in their enthusiasm and assistance, including past executive director Connie Gibbons, Kimberly Soenen, Katherine Loague, Amanda Curtis and Bryan Preston. Highlighted in this list of staff, however, is Farris Wahbeh, whose yeoman's efforts in keeping everything well organized and on track-as well as being the consummate sounding board-earn him the official gold star.
A special thanks to our essayists Yood and Bonesteel, both of whom have been traveling the Chicago River of Art along with me for perhaps more years than we care to acknowledge. A heart-felt thanks to Janet Franz for her keen editing skills, and to David Syrek for his sensitive and exciting catalog design, which brings life to words and images. But, of course, without the creators of these great works and objects and their "gatherers," there would be no show, so I would like to express my undying gratitude to all who have endured my requests and inquiries and saw fit to help us make this show possible.
Ken Burkhart
Take Me to the River curator


(above: Justin McCarthy, Marilyn Monroe, ca. 1975-80, Oil on board, 15 ? x 23 ?. Collection of Intuit: the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, gift of Susann Craig, 2002.3)


(above: Joseph Yoakum, "St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad between Phayer Missouri and Jonesboro Arkansas", ca. 1969-1972, Colored pencil, pencil and pen on paper, 12 x 19. Courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery)

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