2007 ArtMiami Director's Choice Exhibition @ the Miami Beach Convention Center
After years of contemplating time spent with Purvis Young, it's clear his work became part of a 'movement.' This past year marks ten years since his selection as the 'Director's Choice' Artist featured in an exhibition during Art Miami 2007 (in January 2008). Grace Gallery sponsored this exhibit and had a front-row seat to Purvis' singular style and images that many have admired including renowned art experts, collectors and museum curators. His difficult life has been written about, such as this beautiful article in Venice Magazine 2014, but perhaps least discussed is how his art - and the folk art genre created outside of elite training schools - speaks so clearly to new generations interested in conservation and social justice activism.
Purvis made art out of other people's discarded materials. Only late in life did he begin to paint on canvas or paper. His 'frames' were made of scraps of wood, carpet or even duct tape.
Youth, the newest generations, are moving ever faster with a broad sense of environmental consciousness. As post-industrial 'boomers' pursue 'slow art' accustomed to intricately painted realism, delicate impressionism or crisp contemporary compositions, a younger generation creates art instantly from phones, graphic templates and even 3-D printers. Like previous generations, appreciation dwindles often for tradition, including appreciation of conventional art forms, but interest grows about pressing environmental and social problems.
Revolution of the 'self taught' artist, a new creative class emerged out of the 'graffiti' and 'street art' movement of the 1960's, part of social disobedience in response to the changing nature of America's racial fabric and rise on the international stage. Disagreements about the responsibilities of a super-power society continue today. Graffiti most closely embraces the urban culture of 'unschooled' talent with unrest to match. The newest trend in 'art as activism' and Purvis' artistic legacy is found in his images of 'change' articulating the cost of a free society, war and inevitable suffering of all of society if those with the most resources rely primarily upon government systems to help the poor.
Amid world-wide conflicts and economic shifts, Purvis' imagery is raw, current,and 'green' before it was a fashionable trend or cause.
Troubled times dreams and trash are assembled on Purvis' 'canvases' proclaim '...the discarded can be reclaimed as an object of value.' That's the beautiful legacy of Mr. Purvis Young.