Fourth Annual Unfiltered Show
Art Exhibition Curated by Mike Kelly
Exhibition – July 11 – August 22, 2009
Opening Reception – Saturday, July 11, 6 p.m. to midnight
by Robert del Valle, Real Detroit Weekly
A Deep And Satisfying Drag Will Not Harm You
With new works by Johnny Bee Badanjek promised on the roster, how could we not be excited by Unfiltered, a celebration of outsider art scheduled for July 11 at Detroit Industrial Projects. In a nutshell, outsider art is the force of folk vision expressed in a more contemporary manner by self-taught artists who draw most of their inspiration from the urban milieu. It has a sharp (at times almost barbarous) immediacy and is never afraid to defy the conventional expectations of a critical audience. This is actually the fourth consecutive Unfiltered, and it is to curator Mike Kelly’s credit that additional names on that mentioned roster include Dan Frasher, Josh Slavin, Julia Sisi, and other artists of talent and dedication. And yes, we include Mike on that roll of honor as well.
Featuring musical performance by Subourban Son
Wesley Willis was best know for his music- a diagnosed schizophrenic, one time homeless street musician, who was “discovered” and went on to become a full blown cult phenonenom in the 90s, releasing over 50 albums over his prolific but relatively short career. While some dismissed his simplistic music as repetitive and a novelty act, true fans could appreciate his music as catharsis for the demons that he was plagued with all his life, his fearless DIY attitude, and his pure love of rock-n-roll that oozed from his lyrics and persona.
What is lesser known is Wesley’s visual art. He drew obsessively, mostly outdoor renditions of the urban landscape of his hometown Chicago. Using pen and markers on paper and cardboard, he sold his works on the streets of Chicago, and later at his rock-n-roll shows. While some detractors dismissed his music as ridiculously amatuerish, his art is accomplished considering he had no formal artistic training. His early drawings appear primitive, but he eventually developed a detailed linear style that showed a sophisticated grasp of perspective and composition.
This drawing is a typical example of Wesley’s work, featuring one of Wesley’s favorite subjects, the Dan Ryan expressway.
Unfortuanetly Wesley is no longer with us, succumbing to leukemia in 2003 at age 40.