Art world eccentrics and indie celebs made the scene at the 2015 New York Outsider Art Fair’s opening night on Thursday, January 29th. While the stark-white backdrop of Chelsea’s Center 548 on West 22nd street gave the hundreds of exhibited artworks every chance to pop, it also afforded equal opportunity to the live-art portion of the event: the fashion.

The fair’s organizers say that “Outsider Art” is born of an inherent ‘raw creativity’, thriving outside the lines of classically trained, historically traditional, or trendy art. Its origins can be traced back to the 1947 manifesto of French artist and curator Jean Dubuffet, who classified these works as art brut (Raw Art), but it wasn’t until the early 70’s that the term “Outsider Art” was coined by British scholar Roger Cardinal.

The Outsider Art Fair has been showcasing artists on the fringe with annual exhibitions in New York since 1993, adding a Paris outpost in 2013; this year’s New York version was the largest installment to date, exhibiting handpicked works from 50 galleries in 27 countries around the world. A much needed departure from the stuffy, elitist scene overtaking most current ‘insider’ art fairs such as Art Basel, Vogue has called this year’s fair, “the most refreshing show in town”, and its unique clientele is a reflection of this – notorious cool-guy David Byrne of Talking Heads fame has a prized collection of Outsider Art.

Outside Art Fair
Outsider Art Fair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “off-the-beaten-path” nature of the fair was perhaps best illustrated by the eccentric sartorial choices of its attendees – particularly the men. Among some of the more unexpected looks included the floor-length baby pink plaid mohair coat worn by 59 year old artiste/shamanista/NYU professor/six-time world boomerang champion/self-proclaimed “provocateur par excellence” Dr. Dr. Barnaby Ruhe, PhD. Another gem was the tunic featuring a galaxy-themed pattern worn by 30 year old artist Astro, who designs the garments which are then brought to fruition by his mother. Heralded by New York Magazine as “NYC’s Most Avant-Garde Nihilist Subway Performer” is up-and-coming NYC-based performance artist and Oberlin College alumni Kalan Sherrard, who strode around in one of his signature garbage-to-art get-ups {see photo}.

Kalan Sherrard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also spotted: Neutral Milk Hotel founder Jeff Mangum. Dressed in a seemingly unassuming outfit, a closer look revealed what appeared to be an elaborate self-drawn constellation-like design on the edge of his sweater and continuing down onto his pants, mirroring the DIY element of Outsider Art.

The most exciting female fashions of the evening came from those in the Ari Seth Cohen branded “Advanced Style” sector, meaning women ages 60 and up, who embraced bright colors, patterns and textures. Many of the younger ladies simply chose to play it safe with more expected looks in muted winter-friendly color palettes. Nevertheless, most guests arrived dressed and ready to see and be seen. Check out some of the best looks from the night below.

JoDell Shields, 70, a retired diplomat for the ex-American service from New York, New York.
JoDell Shields, 70, a retired diplomat for the ex-American service from New York, New York.
Martiol Foe, 25, a musician from Paris, France, rocking a SisQó-inspired ‘do.
Martiol Foe, 25, a musician from Paris, France, rocking a SisQó-inspired ‘do.
Pervis & Filippo Ross-Gurrieri, 30 & 40, fashion PR and ballroom dancer from New York, New York.
Pervis & Filippo Ross-Gurrieri, 30 & 40, fashion PR and ballroom dancer from New York, New York.
Julie Webb, 48, a gallery owner from Waxahachie, Texas, wearing a vintage mariachi suit from the 1920’s.
Julie Webb, 48, a gallery owner from Waxahachie, Texas, wearing a vintage mariachi suit from the 1920’s.
Ethan Ames, 45, a woodworker from New York, New York, mixes bright florals, leather, and pony-hair leopard.
Ethan Ames, 45, a woodworker from New York, New York, mixes bright florals, leather, and pony-hair leopard.
Ernie & Diane Wolfe, 64 & 60, gallerists from Los Angeles, California.
Ernie & Diane Wolfe, 64 & 60, gallerists from Los Angeles, California.
Lisa Carey, old enough, a milliner from New York, New York, wearing one of her creations.
Lisa Carey, old enough, a milliner from New York, New York, wearing one of her creations.
Lyris Faron, 18, rockstar from New York, New York.
Lyris Faron, 18, rockstar from New York, New York.
Shawn Thornton from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Kolbeinn Hugi from Reykjavik, Iceland, super psychedelic warrior’s, ages unknown.
Shawn Thornton from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Kolbeinn Hugi from Reykjavik, Iceland, super psychedelic warrior’s, ages unknown.
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