Encompassing a broad range of ethnicities, folk art is as visually engaging as it is historically significant to the preservation and evolution of culture, tradition, ideas and the way of life for the people and places it depicts. The Michael Aaron Gallagher Collection celebrates the rich diversity of folklore, tribal imagery and pictorial representations of island inhabitants through the presentation of a select, but growing group of works in this category.
One of the best examples of tribal art in the collection is a pair of oil paintings on board, which originated from Zambia.
Set on a dark background, these African hunting, fishing and village scenes are unique as some of the only paintings on an entirely black background in the collection.
In addition to the Hawaiian portraits of Anthony Sidoni (click here to view), another example of island art is a small painting on canvas that was acquired at a flea market in Central Florida. The three-colored work, bathed in blue as its primary color with accents of rich black lines and the contrasting spaces of white is signed “Tex.” The piece was covered in dirt and grime and also suffered from cracking paint issues due to extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations. After doing a basic cleaning of the surface using standard art restoration techniques, Michael decided to varnish the painting as is and repaint the frame, rather than undertake any additional repairs or retouching.
Finally, another work that blurs the line between abstract art and folk art is a square multimedia work by an unknown artist. Added to the collection for its nightmarish figures entangled in a mesh of irregular shapes, the juxtaposition of flat green and black paint with reflective metallic blobs and haunting characters exudes a strong energy that invites study and interpretation.