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See Appalachian folk art at Portland’s Outsider Art Museum latest exhibit

The “Everyday Prophets” exhibit runs through the end of June

a red sign on a brick building for the Outsider Art Fair

Admission to the Outsider Art Museum is always free.

Photo by LOUtoday

The term “outsider art” was coined in 1972 by French artist Jean Dubuffet, and has come to describe art created by people outside the traditional bounds of fine art. That’s exactly what you’ll find at the Outsider Art Museum + Galleryaka OMG — in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood.

The museum opened in November 2023 at 2510 Portland Ave. with an exhibition for the late Mark Anthony Mulligan, a Louisville artist known for his paintings of company signage and logos. This exhibit was followed by an exhibition of work by Tad DeSanto, another self-taught Louisville artist, entitled “Look/Hear” — and the latest OMG exhibit is “Everyday Prophets,” which features folk artists from all over Appalachia

a colorful image of a woman fighting a devilish figure, labled "Le Raye Beats Hell out of The Devil

Devilish figures are a common motif in the exhibit, like in this piece by James Harold Jennings.

Photo via the Outsider Art Museum + Gallery

What you’ll see

“Everyday Prophets” is a mixed-medium exhibition, featuring carved wooden figures, a quilt, a painted briefcase, and more. The colors are bright and the themes are in-your-face.

The devil appears as a common motif and enemy throughout the exhibit. In a sculpture by Ronald and Jessie Cooper, a pack of labled sinners is sent to hell in a brightly painted handbasket. North Carolinian James Harold Jennings shows powerful women, like the one above, defeating the devil, often by sitting on him.

A wooden carving of a fox with bared teeth

Minnie Adkins’ “Red Fox” shows off her penchant for stylized representations of Appalachian wildlife.

Photo by LOUtoday

Folk artist Minnie Adkins’ work is decidedly less devilish, but no less striking. The image of a bright orange fox recurs in several of her pieces, including a large wooden statue, a quilt of Appalachian animals, and a briefcase proclaiming “folk art is fun art.” The 90-year-old Kentucky artist has been featured in the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, the KMAC Museum, and the private collections of Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand.

Through the end of June, see work by Adkins and 17 other artists in OMG’s gallery space, along with several permanent pieces. The museum’s shop offers pieces for sale, along with books collecting images of the artists’ work.

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