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St. Francis House artists

This past Tuesday, I started volunteering at the St. Francis House working with some of the folks there who are interested in finding out how they might sell or show their art. I met some remarkable folks who are struggling with extremely difficult circumstances, but have found a haven in St. Francis' art room. Under the guidance of Linda Dolph, expressive art therapist, they have begun a healing process through visual art. I was invited to talk to those interested about how they might sell their work, and where they might show it to the public.

I was honored to meet people in rough circumstances (homeless) who shared their work and their hopes for it. More than anything, I think they enjoyed having someone acknowledge their art. Whether it is possible that they could sell it at some point is an unknown, but my intention was to explain the process they would need to do to bring their work to the public.

St. Francis House is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, ecumenical daytime shelter, primarily for the homeless, located in Boston. It is the largest daytime shelter and is open seven days a week, 365 days a year and it provides its guests with the basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and emergency assistance. There are also rehabilitative programs (employment, housing, mental health, substance abuse counseling and lifeskills training) to help those who are able to move themselves out of poverty and homelessness, to achieve lives of independence, self-respect, and hope. (Wikipedia)

The work produced at St. Francis House might be called "Outsider Art", or self-taught art, by the cognoscenti, because it is not the product of art school training. Ironically, this is a segment of the art world that has, within the last 20 years or so, begun to command prices equivalent to many trained artists' work, and has its own coterie of superstars and collector's favorites. The Berenberg Gallery in Boston's South End carries such work, and one gentleman in my group has sold his work there already.

I believe that the commonality between self-taught artists and mainstream, trained artists, is the focus and dedication to their work, original vision, and thoughtful use of materials. I am personally drawn to the work of many self-taught artists because I often find a refreshing honesty and sincerity in the work that I find is often lacking elsewhere.