Savant garde

A Dumbo gallery becomes an incubator for visionary art, Brooklyn-style.


Fair game Works by Michael Pellew, above left, and Garrol Gayden will be featured at this year’s Outsider Art Fair.

January 26--28 marks the annual Outsider Art Fair, and among the established dealers involved in the soaring market for outsider artists will be a relative newcomer: the LAND Gallery. Located at 67 Front Street in Dumbo, LAND (for League Artist Natural Design) opened a little more than a year ago as an outgrowth of the League Treatment Center, a 50-year-old organization dedicated to helping the mentally and developmentally disabled. “Neurologically diverse, that’s the more upbeat term,” says League spokesperson Margaret Bodell in describing autistic artists like Garrol Gayden and Michael Pellew—both of whom use LAND as a studio and exhibition space. “Art is their bridge to society. It’s their vision—the only real power that they have.”

Judging from the jump in prices for their work, that power is definitely growing. Gayden now commands upwards of $1,500 for his renderings of Coney Island scenes. “We’ll sell everything of his at the fair,” says Bodell. “People call me all year, asking, 'Do you have any Garrols?’” The work of Pellew, whose subjects are punk rockers and subway trains (“He’s the kind of autistic adult who knows the name of every band, the number of every car,” Bodell adds), is a relative bargain at $200 for a drawing. “His prices will go up,” she says, while quickly pointing out that money is not the object for either of these artists. “They would be doing it regardless,” she says. “It builds their self-confidence. You should see how proud they are to talk about their imagery.”—Howard Halle