Back in the heady days when “outsider” (a term I dislike) art was hot, painter Fred Stonehouse was a big star, particularly at the Dean Jensen Gallery, and later, at the Tory Folliard Gallery. Gee whiz, Madonna bought at least one of his quirky paintings! Stonehouse just kept doing his thing and never let it go to his head. Frankly, he earned every inch of his success, so it is great to learn that he recently was hired to teach at UW-Madison, which means he’s going to spend lots of time commuting from here to there and back again.
I know I’m years behind, but I just finished reading Love In The Time of Cholera, the 1988 masterful magic-realism novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and was delighted to learn that Stonehouse’s work is heavily influenced by the writings of Marquez. To my mind, there is no such thing as great art without great thought. What’s lacking in so much of what’s passed off as “art” is the ability to integrate one’s personal experiences and all that one learns from either those experiences (or the study of the experiences of others) into moments of sublime understanding. Stonehouse earned his chops by paying attention.
Vox, Acrylic on Canvas, 36″ x 48″
Courtesy of Tory Folliard Gallery – Milwaukee
Two others who pay attention are Tom Bamberger, a local photographer and frequent contributor to Milwaukee Magazine, who is teaching at UW-Milwaukee, and Debra Brehmer, another frequent contributor to Milwaukee Magazine and the co-owner of the Portrait Gallery, who has been teaching for about five years at MIAD. It’s no big surprise that both are fans of Stonehouse. Quality attracts quality. All three earned their chops by paying attention.