An Irresistible Urge to Create: The Monroe Family Collection of Florida Outsider Art

Bryant "Bubba" Gowens, Untitled, n.d., marker and glitter on wood, 27 3/4 x 41 3/4 inches. Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

Bryant "Bubba" Gowens, Untitled, n.d., marker and glitter on wood, 27 3/4 x 41 3/4 inches. Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

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Collecting Outsider art was not intentional for Gary Monroe. "Things just came my way," he says. "The artists were all interesting. I became curious about the work, which was all so invigorating because of the makers' freedom of expression and, of course, the visual resolve they found to express themselves. These works questioned assumptions of what art is or what art can be. While they provoked, they delighted. 
Further, the artists possessed little, if any, concern with public acclaim, museum exhibitions, or their creations' sales. Needless to say, they did not have artists' reps or résumés." 

One thing led to another, and Monroe accumulated nearly 1,000 pieces of art. Eighty-six works from the Monroe Family Collection have been selected for this exhibition, accompanied by an exhibition catalog. The publication includes an introduction by Gary Monroe, a discussion by Senior Curator Kathy Goncharov about the changing vocabulary of self-taught and folk artists, an in-depth essay by Tampa Museum of Art Curator Joanna Robotham, and a specially-commissioned poem by Campbell McGrath about artists' urge to create.