Antiques & Collectibles

“Folk” Art

by Patrick K. Robinson

Folk, Outsider, Brut, Intuitive/Visionary, Naive… There certainly are many labels for art done by those who may not have had the training of the traditional art school. Some of the terms mentioned above may even cross over or are very closely related.

First off I will get into what industry titles look like and then give my very brief comment on how I view this, since dealing in art, antiques, collectibles, and rarities for over 31 years, starting at age 13 and now being fifty-two.

Folk art many times can incorporate what might appear to be crafts and decorative art, which has some roots in the European countries, but also very early U.S. history as well, and many times is created by untrained artists. Also folk art may have been centered around a particular culture, for instance face jugs, or also called ugly jugs, which I have written about before in this paper, have an early history in the African culture.

Outsider Art and Naive artists can be labeled such because of having little contact or involvement with the art world in general. Some research shows the term outsider was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for art brut (French for “raw art”) a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside of official culture. Art Brut originally denotes art created by psychotic individuals who existed almost completely outside culture and society. Strictly speaking it refers only to the collection de l’art brut (literally “Collection of Outsider Art,” sometimes referred to as “musee de l’art brut”). A museum dedicated to outsider art is located in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The labels of Intuitive art/Visionary art are Raw Vision Magazine’s general terms for outsider art. Visionary Art, unlike other definitions here, can often refer to the subject matter of the works, which includes images of a spiritual or religious nature. You can look into this more by checking out Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, based in Chicago, which operates a museum dedicated to the study and exhibition of intuitive and outsider art.

The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore Maryland is dedicated to the collection and display of visionary art. I mention all of these art form labels because, on January 12, 2020 Kitson Arts Alliance will install a folk art exhibit that will run through the end of March 2020, at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock, PA. The Dietrich is is partnering with us and hosting a “Meet the Artists” opening reception on January 19, 2020.

For this exhibit, we will be sharing a particular type of folk art called Tramp Art. Before I get into the exhibitors, let me explain my thoughts of the aforementioned art labels. As previously mentioned, being in this business for over thirty years, I have found many artists that have had zero association with the art world and are naturally talented, self taught, amazing artists that paint in watercolor, oil, pastel, work in clay, bronze, sculpting.

I also know artists that have spent many years in art schools and do great work in many different mediums and have created some amazing folk art, which is typically “labeled” as “untrained” artisan work. Here is the truth of the matter, an artist whether trained or untrained, natural, self taught, whatever the situation, is creating and expressing themselves, based on the total sum of everything that has happened to them throughout their lives. The good, the bad, the challenges, their entire lives’ physical and mental experiences are coming out into their works, one way or another. Let the art speak for itself and even if it fits a label or not, that is ok.

Back to our great upcoming exhibit with our partners at the Dietrich Theater. Matthew Howell, who is bringing back the old art form of Tramp Art will have some traditional Tramp Art boxes, as well as many other carved animals and figures. Matthew repurposes wood from old homes from the early to mid 1900s that have been torn down. The artist Jennifer Sause Brennan will have some very cool folk art – wall-mounted carousel figure heads you have to come and see to know – as well as full sixteen-inch mounted carousel figures, and some great small sculptures too. The artist Cheryl Korb, known for great oil-painted folk art animals on repurposed vintage wood, and some painted scenes as well. The artist Stephen Colley who teaches art along with his wife Amy at the Dietrich Theater, will have some hand-sculpted clay face mugs, again you have to come and see these to really know. Also from the collection of Patrick Robinson, some antique pieces of Tramp art from the late 1800s to the early to mid 1900s along with some other folk art.

Please join Kitson Arts Alliance and our host the Dietrich Theater on January 19, 2020 from 2 to 4pm, and – some exciting news, we will also be celebrating Kitson Arts Alliance’s four-year anniversary. Come out to this great, free, community event!

Until next quarter, happy art, antique and collectible hunting!

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Patrick K. Robinson is a life-long collector (since the ripe old age of nine), antiques specialist, and kid-at-heart entrepreneur who is passionate about hearing YOUR stories about the items YOU collect, the cherished antique YOU’VE acquired, the family heirloom YOU’D like to know more about. Co-founder & Creative Director of the Kitson Arts Alliance and owner of Robinson Group International (offering great collectibles online at and Tunkhannock’s Kitson Gallery at Pen Corners, Patrick invites kids of all ages (7 to 77 and beyond) to share your story by contacting him at or by visiting his Facebook page, Kitson Gallery.

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