FOR Double Dog Studios co-owner Dave Klug, premiering a brand new gallery with an Outsider Art-themed exhibit was the perfect opportunity to re-energize his own creative aesthetic.
“Outsider Art has so much emotion, truly from the heart, no artifice at all,” he says. “It’s an approach that simplifies things, and I try to do that in my art. With Outsider Art, you can really see how another artist’s mind works.”
“They Taught Themselves” – A Celebration of 13 Outsider Artists opens this Saturday, July 24 with a 6-9 p.m. reception at Double Dog Studios, 317 Second Avenue in Carnegie. Carnegie Mayor Hon. Stacie Riley will officially open the evening with a 6:00 p.m. ribbon-cutting.
Running through Sept. 4, “They Taught Themselves” features 75 paintings, drawings, sculptures and 3-dimensional objects from renowned Pittsburgh-area Outsider Artists R.G. Maxwell, Inez Hess, Norman Scott “Butch” Quinn, Peter R. Russo, Zinguili Weaver, J.J. Burns, Rudy “The Blade” Bellissario, John Graves, Robert Wright, Andy Flanigan, Kathleen Ferri, William Truschel and Paul Warhola.
“This show digs deep into the passion that drives Outsider Art expression,” notes Dave’s wife Patricia Klug, gallery co-owner and herself a design professional.
The exhibit’s curator Pat McArdle is a longtime collector and chronicler of Outsider Art, and he notes the genre’s early 20th-century roots are consummately depicted by the work of Pittsburgh’s legendary John Kane (1860-1934), an entirely self-taught creator whose job painting railroad cars constituted his “formal” art education.
“An Outsider Artist challenges the art universe as it is commonly or commercially conceived,” McArdle says. “You might say every artist pursues their own vision, but with an Outsider Artist, there is no compromise. It’s their vision and their vision alone they strive to put on canvas.”
Dave Klug’s artistic vision initially sparked when he began illustrating his grade school milk money envelopes; adult classes at Art Insttute of Pittsburgh and an inspiring apprenticeship with famed Magic Realist painter Henry Koerner helped him hone a vibrant style that found frequent publication in periodicals including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Reader’s Digest, Time and Highlights and with corporate clients from CNN and NBC to Highmark and Primanti Bros. Restaurants.
In 2019, Dave and Patricia sold their Mt. Lebanon home and remodeled the former St. Joseph German Catholic Church rectory in Carnegie. The revamped residence now measures 8,000 square feet with four floors and 16 rooms, three art gallery zones, salon and workshop areas and a spacious kitchen for guest chef dinners and wine tastings.
The Klugs envision the new gallery as a way for the surrounding community to become involved in regular artmaking. “One thing I’ve learned from Outsider Art,” says Dave, “is that a great way to connect with people is by letting them express themselves in their own fashion. Double Dog Studios is the place where that can happen.”