Folk art exhibit open at COD gallery

By Alyssa Larkin
For Cleve Carney Art Gallery
Posted9/9/2015 1:39 PM

For more than 30 years, Jim and Beth Arient of Naperville have traveled the country collecting the work of self-taught artists, resulting in one of the world's most important private collections of the genre.

A portion of that folk art collection is shown in the exhibit "Past Time: American Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Jim and Beth Arient," now open in the Cleve Carney Art Gallery of the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn.

The Arient family collection is widely respected for its size and depth, but has also been noted for the approach Jim and Beth Arient have taken to collecting. When the Arients began in 1977, few self-taught artists were represented by galleries or dealers, compelling the couple to seek the artists out.

From this necessity grew a wealth of personal relationships with folk artists across the country, as well as a strong network of collectors that has brought their work to the general public.

The four artists included in the Arient exhibit at the Clive Carney gallery share a common focus on repetitive forms, employing systems of repetition as an artistic method to assess the world around them. The works on display include stoneware pottery, clay sculptures, hand-painted signs and woodcarving.

One of the artists, Georgia-born Lanier Meaders, grew up assisting in his father's pottery shop and later became well-known for the sculptural creativity of his face jugs. His work continues the ceramic craftsmanship tradition of White County, Georgia, that has been in existence since the early 1800s.

Virginian pottery artist Georgia Blizzard, also found material and inspiration in the Appalachian hills, and used the clay from the creek behind her home to create vessels depicting characters from her own life.

The Arient exhibition also includes carved wood canes by the famed self-taught Kentucky artist Tim Lewis, and the painted protest signs of Jesse Howard. Howard's work is held in the permanent collections of the American Folk Art Museum and the American Visionary Arts Museum.

"Past Time: American Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Jim and Beth Arient" can be viewed during regular gallery hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday, as well as 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 10. The gallery also is open one hour prior to MAC performances in the Belushi Performance Hall and during intermission.

For information about the exhibitions and related special events, visit or call (630) 942-2321.