Our Visionaries

Upcoming Exhibition:

The Visionary Experience: Saint Francis to Finster

AVAM Coming October 4, 2014

AVAM's forthcoming all-new exhibition features a spirited centennial celebration of America's most prolific self-tutored and "on fire" artist, Rev. Howard Finster. With illuminating works by visionaries: Ingo Swann, Jimi Hendrix, Christine Sefolosha, Walter Russell, Robert Crumb, Paolo Soleri, Dr. Robert Hieronimus, plus an exploration of inventive new spiritual groups: Unarius Academy of Science, The Source Family, and much more!

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The following is a brief listing of some of AVAM's visionary artists from our permanent collection. We are working to eventually add bios and photos for all our permanent collection artists in the future. There are many more artists and works on display at the museum, and we encourage you to visit us and explore these visionaries' creations & discover their inspiring stories.

Antonio Alberti

After the war, Alberti spent 15 years working on a 6-foot tall wood carving dedicated to his friend, Giovanni Grano. Titled The Light of Life, it is comprised of three sections: "The Christian Appeal," "The Flight of Heroes." and "The Cage of Joyful Spring." Upon completion, the wood sculpture was exhibited by Ripley's "Believe It Or Not" at the 1938 World's Fair, where some of the more delicate wood attachments were stolen.

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Ho Baron

Ho's method of personal expression evolved over the years, first from writing to the visual arts, from photography to pen and ink drawing and painting, then eventually to sculpture. He has sculpted for over 30 years and has created more than 200 narrative bronze and cast stone figures, almost all of which are scattered around his home.

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Robert Benson

Around 2003, Benson became enchanted by seeing the flash from a single strand of double-sided mirrors hanging on a filament. "I immediately imagined the possibilities." He quickly transformed his front lawn into a shimmering display at grand scale of his handmade "flashies."

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Deborah Berger

Deborah Berger was born with autism in New Jersey in 1956. As a young child, she learned needlework, and was soon a prodigy. Before she was ten, she was able to create not only all her own clothing, but toys, games, and complex sculptural forms from yarn.

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Calvin & Ruby Black

Calvin and Ruby Black began building the Possum Trot Shop and Fantasy Doll Show in 1954 as an attraction to lure tourists off the main highways and to their small rock shop in Possum Trot, California, in the Mojave Desert. Possum Trot fast became the couple's artistic obsession.

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Hawkins Bolden

At age seven, Bolden suffered a severe blow to the head from a baseball accident that resulted in the loss of his eyesight, which he never regained. Despite this disability, he made visual/tactile art for most of his life. "I make them so they can see good: two eyes here, and one way up on top of the head. The third eye sees a whole lot, you know." –Hawkins Bolden

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Frank Bruno

An apocalyptic painter and fierce social critic, Frank Bruno's work and thinking have been fueled by his study of Messianic and end of the world books and preaching. Frank's work reflects his belief in the biblical prophesy that only one-third of the earth's population will survive the seven-year period of The Great Tribulation, "a time when mankind will mistakenly embrace the Antichrist, and the Gates of Hell open wide to receive its own."

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Fred Carter

Carter stayed abreast of world news to the end, always struggling to better understand humankind's addiction to war, cruelty, destruction of nature, and the devastation of so many drug-addicted young people. "Man is becoming so dehumanized and desensitized," Carter said. "The Biblical people would call that Armageddon. It's just the destruction of man by himself."

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Nek Chand

Nek Chand's Rock Garden is now the world's largest visionary environment, with several thousand sculptures spanning more than 25-acres, and is one of the largest tourist attractions in India with over 5,000 visitors a day (second only to the Taj Mahal).

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Allen Christian

For more than two decades he has enchanted visitors to his Minneapolis-based "House of Balls"—an old warehouse and studio jam-packed with singular works of art fashioned out of everyday objects, from bowling balls to badminton birdies.

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Loring Cornish

A native of the Druid Hill Park neighborhood in Baltimore City, Loring Cornish's row home serves as both gallery to his artwork and a floor-to-ceiling, indoor and outdoor, work of art.

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Noche Crist

Romanian born, Noche Crist was raised by a frail mother, Juliet, and by her eccentric aunt, Mamoutz. It was Mamoutz's husband who encouraged young Noche to paint and to write, and she would remain self-taught and fiercely original the whole of the rest of her long life.

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J.J. Cromer

Cromer's drawings & detailed paintings are inspired and expressive of his concern with current issues, such as war, racism, science and technology, freedom of expression, class inequities, and environmentalism.

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Candy Cummings

Cummings' father retired after 13 years in the military to start his own business, which became one of the earliest television and appliance service shops. Many years later, the material legacy of his warehouse—filled with vacuum tubes, TV knobs, and all kinds of electrical spare parts—would find its way into his daughter's intricate sculptures.

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Paul Darmafall "The Baltimore Glassman"

In the mid 1970's, inspired at first by our Nation's Bicentennial, Darmafall began creating paintings using colored glass, house paint, glitter, glue, and found objects. Darmafall's work conveys his strong beliefs about independence, liberty, history, self-sufficiency, the importance of fresh air and the evils of electricity, taxes, and air conditioning.

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Timmerman Daugherty

Timmerman "Timmie" Daugherty was born to Quaker, nature loving parents in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Raised near woods and streams and surrounded by animal life, Daugherty's scientist mother took time to impart her own fascination with nature.

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Charles Dellschau

Dellschau's earliest known artwork is contained in an illustrated diary dated 1899. He continued to work until 1922, filling at least 13 notebooks with drawings, watercolors, and collages depicting imaginative airships and an account of his mid–19th century involvement as a draftsman for the super secret (and potentially imaginary) Sonora Aero Club.

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Thornton Dial, Sr.

Dial often uses a tiger as a symbol for a person (especially an African-American) struggling to survive in the jungle of American life. "Anytime you get a cat [and] put him out there with nothing, he's going to survive. So he will kill, catch things. We do the same things. Fighting for freedom, fighting for anything."

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Brian Dowdall

Brian is best known for his cardboard and sand paintings of animal spirits, including: alligators, armadillos, possums, dogs, cats, and snakes. He sets each animal in a luminous field, or celebratory "aura" of color; his palette comes from "the sun, moon, fire, earth, trees, and water."

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Emily Duffy

Emily Kate Chapman Duffy was born in Philadelphia, PA, in 1957 and has lived in California since the age of five. Duffy is the creator of the Bra Ball, and also the director of the San Francisco Bay Area's ArtCar Fest.

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Tom Duncan

Duncan first began incorporating his memories of WWII in his art in the early 1980s. His work has also given a powerful voice to his horror at the historical accounts of what African Slaves endured. Tom Duncan's art is characterized by a childlike–lens on both trauma and fun in it's many forms. His artwork is also full of tributes to the many fascinating and powerful women he has known throughout his life..

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Axel Erlandson

Axel Erlandson was born in 1884, the son of Swedish immigrants. A farmer by trade, he was inspired to begin sculpting trees after observing a natural graft between two sycamores. Axel began to shape trees, planting them in patterns, then pruning, grafting and bending them.

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Rev. Howard Finster

Finster's works deal with several large themes—history, biography, autobiography, divine power, worldly calamity, human sinfulness, spiritual salvation, steadfast faith, heavenly reward, and extraterrestrial life.

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Vanessa German

Vanessa creates "contemporary power figures," as she defines them, made of everyday objects transformed into an iconography of astonishing metaphors. Vanessa believes her power figures are "alive by sight, and the adventure that sight incites in every piece" has its own meaning.

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Dalton M. Ghetti

Dalton Ghetti was born on February 28, 1961, in the busy city of São Paulo, Brazil. Most young students carried a small pocket knife to school to sharpen their pencils, but eight-year-old Dalton used his to cut intricate patterns into the pencil wood, as well as in soap and chalk.

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Ted Gordon

"These doodles are my only legacy . . . each face is mine at the moment of execution, a tentative installment of one interminable self-portrait." –Ted Gordon

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Dr. Temple Grandin

Dr. Temple Grandin is an author, activist, and professor who has developed profound insights into the welfare and needs of animals through her own autistic condition. Born in Boston on August 29, 1947, Grandin was diagnosed with brain damage and autism at an early age, preventing her from communicating through words until she was three-years-old.

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Grace Bashara Greene

In her solitude Grace began to create intricate artistic assemblages. By the 1990's, Grace's home had become a favorite spot in the popular annual Houston Orange Show Eyeopener's Tour. Her home was described as "a memory box, filled to the brink with her creations. Carefully cut and pasted fabrics, trays and spiraling shelves . . . a tribute to the enduring memories and experiences of her life as a woman who is both a mother and an artist."

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Alex Grey

By referencing multiple wisdom traditions in his artwork, Grey's paintings indicate an inclusive vision, a universal sacredness. In 2004, the Greys founded the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in New York City, a cultural center and refuge for contemplation that celebrates a new alliance between divinity and creativity.

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Gerald Hawkes

"Each matchstick represents a human being. My work shows the beauty and strength of what can happen when people work together." –Gerald Hawkes

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Mr. Imagination

"Years ago my great aunt predicted I was going to be a minister, and in a way she was right. I think every artist is a minister and a messenger in a way." –Mr. Imagination

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Kenny Irwin, Jr.

At 13, the artist began his ornate and imaginative RoboLights installation, a gigantic, public art experience. In its first year, the installation featured around 15,000 lights attached to Irwin's huge recycled art robots, which he assembles by hand. By 2007, RoboLights included 6.2 million lights, and was drawing visitors and admirers from all over the world.

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