Extraordinary Interpretations
Florida's Self-Taught Artists

Gary Monroe

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"Captures not only essential characteristics of these 61 artists but also clear and honest discoveries of the creative process. [The] writing is poignant . . . with a warmth and respect for the subjects that makes us feel a kinship to their eccentricities."--Amy Vigilante Dickerson, University of Florida
"Conveys a passionate enthusiasm for the unexpected and even the wacky, proving that the unconventional and peculiar still flourish amidst the increasing homogeneity of twenty-first century America."--Carol Crown, University of Memphis
Fresh and exciting, the unorthodox work of the self-taught artist confounds our understanding of contemporary art. Presented in full color, this collection of examples from Florida artists attests to an intensely personal yet universal desire for self-expression.
From sculpture in wood and tin to paintings on canvas, grocery bags, and old pizza boxes, the pieces display a raw emotion and independent spirit that typically disregard artistic rules, training, and traditions. Gary Monroe examines the distinctive features of each artist's work and places it in the context of the national dialogue about folk art. He also summarizes the current debate about terminology--labels such as naïve, outsider, visionary, vernacular, and folk all have been used to describe these mavericks—in a discussion that challenges presumptions about aesthetic criticism.
The book explores each artist's creative process, revealing lives fueled by inner inspiration and generally isolated from the art market, from institutional support, and from mainstream culture. It also includes dramatic photographic portraits of the artists--some with international reputations and others known mainly in Florida or entirely unknown to the public--as well as information about their background, current works, and location in the state.
For artists, collectors, art historians, museum and gallery personnel, and for the general audience of art enthusiasts as well as visitors to the state, this handsome book captures an original piece of Florida's cultural heritage.
Gary Monroe, a native of Miami Beach, has photographed throughout Brazil, Israel, Cuba, India, Trinidad, Poland, and Egypt, among other international destinations. He is best known for his long-term photographic involvements with the elderly’s old world culture of South Beach, Haiti during the end of the Duvalier regime and foray into democracy, and tourism as a rite of passage. He has received various honors and distinctions for his work, including two National Endowments for the Arts, four Florida Humanities Council Fellowships, a State of Florida arts fellowship, and two Fulbright Foundation fellowships. Monroe is the author of The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters and three other books on Florida’s Highwaymen artists. He has written nine books, most of which acknowledge unrecognized self-taught Florida artists. His most recent book, E. G. Barnhill: Florida Photographer, Adventurer, Entrepreneur, highlights the artist’s hand-colored photographs.

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" Gary Monroe has an eye for cultural resources that remain off the beaten path in this over-developed state"
--The Herald

"Keepsake book for artists
--Book Reviewer-Television

" Gary Monroe has an eye for cultural resources that remain off the beaten path in this over developed state"
--Miami Herald

" Gary Monroe has an eye for cultural resources that remain off the beaten path in this over-developed state"
--Miami Herald

"A showcase for art in its simplest, purest form."
--The Villages Sun

"a sense of discovery on nearly every page"
--Intuit's Outsider Magazine

"a sense of discovery on nearly every page.:
--The Outsider Pages (www.interestingideas.com)

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