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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

An Irresistible Urge to Create: The Monroe Family Collection of Florida Outsider Art

Boca Raton Museum of Art / Boca Raton / Art

The story behind Gary Monroe’s massive collection of outsider art—over 1,000 pieces—is like a Homeric odyssey. Throughout the 1990s, Monroe, a photographer, drove across Florida without GPS or a cell phone, relying on maps and instinct to guide him. From Key West’s Mile 0 to Jacksonville, he collected pieces from men and women who didn’t consider themselves artists, or had little to no artistic training. Acquiring these works took charisma: Monroe had to gain the trust of the artists, and he developed personal relationships throughout his journey. This exhibition is the most comprehensive survey of Floridian outsider art to date, celebrating the oddities of a state known for its strangeness. It also provides a platform for frequently silenced voices, each artwork a testament to the escapist power of imagination, the liberation and autonomy that can be found in the act of creation. The survey is a portrait of the Sunshine State and also tells the tale of Monroe’s travels in a land of interstates, trailer parks, ancient forests, and teeming swamps. —C.J.F.

Boca Raton Museum of Art 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, FL 33432
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