KHFA exhibition archives

Margins Beyond: Self Taught

Forrest Bess, Vanzant Driver, Bill Haveron, Bert Long, Richard Gordan Kendall, Susan Te Kahurangi King, Frank Jones, Ike Morgan, Alessandra Michelangelo and Rev. Johnnie Swearingen
January 14-February 11, 2017
Opening reception Saturday, January 14 from 6:00-8:00 pm
Artists will be in attendance

Kirk Hopper Fine Art is pleased to collaborate with Intuitive Eye's Jay Wehnert (Houston), the Webb Gallery (Waxahachie), Murray Smither (Dallas) and Chris Bryne (Dallas) to present Margins Beyond, featuring the work of self taught artists including Forrest Bess, Vanzant Driver, Bill Haveron, Bert Long, Richard Gordan Kendall, Susan Te Kahurangi King, Frank Jones, Ike Morgan, Alessandra Michelangelo and Rev. Johnnie Swearingen.

Self-taught artworks are usually derived through the simplest of means, from the solitude of the maker to the most commonly available materials used to produce their artworks. Often perceived to be simple, crude, and primitive, self-taught artists seek to delve deeper into the human psyche with the rawness and intensity that often fills their own lives. Many of the artists included in Margins Beyond are inherently connected to his or her own spiritual realm, methodically conjuring alternative worlds. However, the value of the art is not always recognized, sometimes owing to certain psychiatric conditions, homelessness, and detachment from the art world at large. These circumstances are not necessarily impediments but, instead, attributes that uniquely shape the work created by these visionaries.

Selected Biographies

Forrest Bess, Untitled, 1950, oil on canvas, 9" x 12"

Born October 5, 1911, in Bay City, Texas, Forrest Bess lived his life there in virtual isolation, on a strip of land accessible only by boat. Bess stated, "I try to tell myself that only by breaking completely away from society can I arrive at a reasonable existence." Always an avid painter, he did briefly attend college where he studied some architecture, but ultimately he was attracted to studies of religion, psychology and anthropology, readings that would later inform his own radical theories. In 1932, he dropped out of college and worked several years in the Beaumont oil fields. During the war he enlisted in the Army Corps of Engineers and was given the task of designing camouflage. In later years, his artwork gained notoriety and he forged lasting relationships with Meyer Shapiro and Betty Parson. Bess died in 1977.

Frank Jones was born in Clarksville, Texas, in 1900. His ancestors were slaves who had been re-settled in East Texas from other Southern states to provide labor for cotton farming. Jones was often in and out of jail and ultimately spent the rest of his life in Huntsville State Prison. In the late 1960s, Jones began creating artworks in prison, intricate drawings of structures with jagged walls that resembled schematic renderings with horns. He called these drawings "devil houses." Jones continued to create and elaborate on his themes of evil, temptation and protection in the spirit and corporeal worlds for the next five years until his death in 1969.

Susan Te Kahurangi King was born in 1951 in Te Aroha, New Zealand. Sometime between the ages of four and nine years, Susan gradually stopped speaking but would occasionally hum or sing while she drew. Susan eventually developed an exceptional precocity, constantly honing her skills and developing her methodical rendered worlds, which are reconfigured and distorted. King currently lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand.

For decades, Bill Haveron's art has been influenced by experiences as a youth at his mother's honky-tonk bar and spooky agrarian upbringing in Bryan, Texas. His works exert a palpable closeness, an intimacy with the viewer that is disorienting and destabilizing. By uncovering hidden layers of meaning, by pointing out inconsistencies in our world, Haveron breaks down religious, cultural and intellectual hierarchies and reintroduces the play of intuition and metaphor. Haveron currently resides in Bryan, Texas.

Richard Gordon Kendall, Cityscape, acrylic, ink, whiteout and graphite, 13.5" x 16.5". Courtesy of Jay Wehnert
Susan Te Kahurangi King, Untitled, c. 1960, crayon on paper, 13.5" x 8.3". Courtesy of the artist and Chris Byrne