Robert Ian Pepper (Reading), who received his BA Honors from Leeds College of Art and Design, UK, explores memories of the travelling circus and its titillating culture from his youth in Manchester, England. His masterful scenes glow with energy- filled with dazzling color, action, romance, and longing. In addition to the remarkable body of fine art Pepper has produced over the last twenty years, he has also had a successful commercial career. A neon and wood sign for Reading’s “Northeast Taproom”, made in the early 1990s, is included in the show.
Self-taught artist David “Big Dutch” Nally (Reading) will also have a painting on display on loan from the ‘Taproom’, which has hung for years in its back room. In his new work Nally revisits critical themes of war, religion, and the plight of the worker, encoded in playful mixed-media paintings, copper and wood assemblages, and colored pencil and ink drawings. Nally introduces new subjects such as reality television (after becoming fascinated with a nationally popular cable program featuring a family from Berks County) with iconic imagery, bright colors, and pithy, often poignant text.
Large canvases by Jim Bloom (Philadelphia), also self-taught, confront current topics such as the economy, and moral issues surrounding actions of highly paid financial executives, as presented in popular news media. Bloom combines these subjects with sexually or violently charged imagery from one of his oldest themes, which has reemerged lately; that of bars and counter-cultural night-life, contrasted with works addressing social isolation. The heavily object-encrusted surfaces of several of Bloom’s paintings contain collaged elements of used theatre props, created by Mr. Pepper.
In “Triple Treat! Past, Present, Future,” Outsider Folk Art Gallery brings together three Pennsylvania artists who have been independently developing their art for several decades, and through it, illustrating unique perspectives on life. “Triple Treat: Past, Present, and Future” features the latest body of work from Robert Ian Pepper, David “Big Dutch” Nally, and Jim Bloom, along with older selections from each artist that provide personal and artistic context. “Big Dutch” has been featured by OFAG since the gallery opened in 2005; though already a well-known and respected local artist. Jim Bloom has been represented by OFAG since 2007, prior to which he exhibited in alternative spaces in the Philadelphia area since the early 1990s, with organizations such as Coalition Ingénue Self-Taught Artists’ Collective. The gallery is proud to present the work of Robert Ian Pepper, a pillar in the Berks County Art community, for the first time. The work of Bloom, Pepper, and Nally is diverse in style and subject matter, but shares in common an unwavering commitment to effectively communicate a feeling, message, or story to the viewer, which comes directly from the artist’s personal experience.
The Outsider Folk Art Gallery, located on the fifth floor of the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, is owned by local collectors and dealers George and Sue Viener who have been specializing in self-taught art for over 30 years. Art displayed from the Vieners’ collection is available for purchase. The gallery’s primary function is to expose and educate the public about outsider and self-taught art.