At 74 years old, Syma Gerard of Remsenburg realized she was an artist through doodling.
For more than 50 years, Ms. Gerard has been drawing in classes, meetings and anywhere she was forced to sit still. Over the years, those drawing became more elaborate and complex. She just puts her pen to the paper and lets her hands move the way they want. Surprisingly, this helps the artist concentrate on what’s going on in the classes or meetings she attends.
That process is the core of the third annual “Outsider Art in the Hamptons: Internal Guidance Systems” at Galerie BelAge in Westhampton Beach. Artist and show organizer Candyce Brokaw describes the genre as “self-taught, visionary, unplanned and stream-of-consciousness art.” Every piece of artwork is original because you can’t copy what’s in someone else’s head. The artist’s statement is in there,” Ms. Brokaw said.
Ms. Gerard will create her drawings anywhere, even when she’s riding in a car. On a recent trip in India, she drew on the bus that was driving her from town to town.
“I draw in places that aren’t totally comfortable and it adds an element of delight to these events,” Ms. Gerard said.
Ms. Gerard is showing her works for the first time at the Galerie BelAge outsider art show, which runs through September 8.
The emerging artist credits her husband for her success because he always felt like her artwork was more than just doodles.
Ms. Brokaw agreed, and now as the artist draws “critters” or “tree flowers,” named lovingly by her husband as “Syma trees,” habitually come out in her works.
“It’s very nice to find someone like Syma,” Ms. Brokaw said, because she is what an outsider artist is all about.
Along with her drawings, Ms. Gerard wrote a poem about becoming an outsider artist. “Sometimes my hand moves randomly across the sheet. It isn’t neat or sweet,” she wrote. She read her piece during the North Sea Poetry Scene’s reading at the gallery last Saturday.
This is the first year that “Internal Guidance Systems” has been a part of the annual show. The show was curated by Anne Grgich and Colin Rhodes and will travel through the United States and Canada through 2010. Bob Deets of Galerie BelAge and Ms. Brokaw organized the outsider art show.
The show features everything from acrylics, sculptures, drawings, poetry and collages created with different materials including cardboard, wood and even bottle caps, Ms. Brokaw said. Artists involved in the show come from all over the world including from the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, Sweden, France and Canada. Artists from the East End include Ms. Brokaw, Ms. Gerard, Harald Olsen, Bella Christ and Peter Marbury.
“There is a lot of interplay between outsider artists advocating exhibits world wide,” Ms. Brokaw said. Artists are trying to make the genre more well-known. “There is a lot of education to be done for outsider art,” she added.
One artist featured in the exhibit is Dominick Montiglio. “Untitled” is made up of little tears of painted canvas assembled together, all representing different aspects of his life. Mr. Montiglio’s life includes times as a doo-wop singer, involvement in Vietnam and with the family business: the mafia.
Matt Sesow, another outsider artist, created “Master Giovanni,” a large-scale painting in the show that was painted during an opera.
A portion of the proceeds from the show will be donated to Survivors Art Foundation, a not-for-profit organization and co-sponsor of the exhibit.