Outsider Art — Why You Need It

This weekend provides a rare opportunity to peek into an artist’s lair and walk away with a piece of it at a relatively-reasonable price.  This estate sale is at the home studio of Kansas City artist Allan Winkler, who will be in and out during the sale and is happy to sign his art for you.
Mike and Roger Estate Sales, July 26-28, 2019, (816) 309-2728


Each week I look diligently through the online posts for estate sales — a chance to walk into a stranger’s house and look at all their stupid stuff (it’s the stupid stuff that sticks around for the sales), and snoop around their homes.  It’s fascinating to see what people spend their money on.  And then, on my way home with a car full of someone else’s old junk, a brief moment of self-awareness sometimes kicks in when I realize how I’m spending MY money.

But this week something unique caught my eye — a chance to walk into a strange artist’s home and look at all his piled-up art. I think most artists don’t appreciate their talent, so their basements collect piles of cast-aside art, in the same way my basement collects old clothes and impetuous garage sale finds. That certainly seems the case with local Kansas City artist Allan Winkler, the talented sculptor, painter, cut-paper artist, cut metal artist, potter, poured glass, collage artist. He’s well-known in art circles for his outsider art.

The best definition I’ve found for outsider art is: “…art produced by self-taught artists who are not part of the artistic establishment.”  Sometimes they make a conscious decision to work outside of the established art world, but more often than not they’re people who are already outsiders, by circumstance, race, or income, and their art is their way out (in?).  They’re kind of modern-day folk artists, and often create their art on and with found objects — cardboard, wood scraps, metal cans, bottles, old magazines and newspapers, tools, rocks, trash.  (If you’ve ever been to a House of Blues restaurant….they’re covered in local outsider art.)

Allan Winkler’s studio…


My favorite part of the studio is the patio…


I absolutely love outsider artists’ yards — always filled with creative vignettes, clever commentary, and a healthy dose of childhood toys.  I’m in awe of people who can take something as ordinary as a cracker box and give it a new, artistic life.  Allan’s home doesn’t disappoint.  This consciously-hip area of Kansas City, on the edge of the Crossroads, has homes dating back to the 1860’s, right next to modern concrete efforts at architectural diversity.  But, happily, there’s still enough artistic tolerance to allow a home like Allan’s to flourish.

Here’s why you need to own a piece of outsider art — it’s as much a contemporary social commentary as it is art.

And we need to support local artists.  We need their skewed visions.







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