For over two decades the National Art Exhibitions by the Mentally Ill (NAEMI) has organized some pretty incredible shows of outsider art while also launching the careers of local talents such as Mario Mesa, Lucia Ballester, and Boris Lopez whose works are regularly sold in galleries from New York to Europe and have even entered museum collections.
NAEMI is hosting its 23rd annual exhibit the Borders Art Gallery in Little Havana on May 27. The group show will feature over 40 works ranging from photography to paintings, drawings, collages, mixed media pieces and even some spectacular artist's books.
"The works will range in price from $200 to $600 and include these gorgeous book created by Ramon Losa," mentions Martin who adds that some of the artists use the money they earn during NAEMI exhibits to buy art supplies but mainly to purchase clothing and food. "We have some pretty incredible pieces in the show this year and artists representing not only the United States but England, Chile, Spain, Paraguay and Mexico too."
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Back this year is Miami's Boris Lopez best known for his radiant paintings of the blessed virgin wearing flip-flops and showing off ruby-red toenails. Lopez who works flushing out radiators to earn a living typically uses strippers as models for his Madonna figures but has expanded his oeuvre to include some wild abstract canvases for this show Martin informs.
Another artist whose works will be on display is West Virginia's Echo McCallister, whose condition, echolalia, compels him to repeat the last words of conversation he hears and also suffers from autism.
"He is one of the best outsider artists in the country and is known for his colorful primitive figures and innocent style," Martin says.
"Our goal is to educate the public on outsider art and eliminate prejudice against mental illness," explains Martin. "These exhibits showcase very talented people and positively reflect the creativity and tenacity of all the artists involved."
Attend NAEMI's Opening Reception on May 27 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Borders Art Gallery (1601 SW First St., Miami). The exhibit will be up through June 24. Call 954-922-8692 or visit naemi.org.