5 Artists to Discover at the Outsider Art Fair, From a Vermont Grocery Cashier to a Santa Fe Tattooist

The fair never fails to introduce amazing self-taught artists.

Denver Ferguson drawing during his shift as a cashier at a co-op grocery in Vermont. Photo courtesy of Kishka Gallery and Library, White River, Vermont.

Any art fair worth its salt will introduce you to exciting new voices. But with its focus on artists who exist independent of the mainstream art world, the Outsider Art Fair is perhaps the fair best situated for introducing exciting, unfamiliar bodies of work—often at extremely affordable price points. Here are five of our favorite discoveries from the fair’s 2023 New York edition.



One of the Distraction drawings (ca. 1880s). Photo courtesy of Norman Brosterman.

One of the Distraction drawings (ca. 1880s). Photo courtesy of Norman Brosterman.

What: There’s nothing like an art mystery to spark the curiosity, and it’s hard to get more mysterious than these two recently discovered albums of meticulously hand drawn geometric ink designs. The albums bear the numbers five and eight, suggesting they are part of a much larger body of work—and each page is numbered, going up to about 1,000. Each drawing is exacting in its precise, perfectly symmetrical line work, and must have taken hours to complete, drawn first in pencil and then in ink with a ruling pen.

Showing at: Norman Brosterman, New York

Who: The only identifying detail about the unknown artist is that the album’s antique bindings can be dated to the 1880s. Brosterman bought the artworks from a German dealer, who bought them from a Canadian dealer, who bought them from a bookshop in Seattle. “No one asks enough questions,” Brosterman lamented. He believes the drawings are the work of an obsessive draftsman or architect—but there’s really no way to know unless someone with more information about the work comes forward, or additional works surface with more documentation.

Prices: A suite of 12 drawings is priced at $20,000, with individual works at $2,000, or $2,500 framed

Why You Should Pay Attention: “When I first find them I said ‘these are prints.’ The guy said ‘no, they are drawings,’ and handed me a magnifying glass,” Brosterman recalled. “I’ve sold a lot of architectural drawings so I’m used to that kind of work, but I’ve never seen anything like this. These represent years of work.”

Fun Fact: Distraction, as Brosterman has dubbed the mystery artist, after the title written on the albums’ spines, is making his or her debut at the fair. There are about 300 works, but some are not in great condition due to age and mildew.

—Sarah Cascone


Denver Ferguson

Denver Ferguson, <em>2L</em>. Photo courtesy of Kishka Gallery and Library, White River, Vermont.

Denver Ferguson, 2L. Photo courtesy of Kishka Gallery and Library, White River, Vermont.

What: The bold, Afro-futurist characters in 37-year-old Denver Ferguson’s diminutive pen and colored pencil drawings pop off the page. Tiny double portraits of alien figures seem like the headshots of the cast of characters from a richly imagined fictional universe, while larger pieces with detailed backgrounds could be the promotional movie posters. “Denver loves comic books and 20th century sci-fi—he talks about in his dream of wanting to go back to the Caribbean and start drawing schools,” dealer Ben Finer said. “And he also wants to bring Yoruba and Caribbean culture into comic books.”

Showing at: Kishka Gallery and Library, White River, Vermont

Prices: $300 to $1,200, with 13 sold ahead of the fair, plus four on opening day

Who: A native of St. Lucia, Ferguson decided to immigrate the to the U.S. after 2017’s Hurricane Maria knocked out the local tourism industry where he was living in St. John. He moved to a small town in Vermont to be close to his daughter, and began working as a cashier at the Upper Valley Co-Op. That’s where Finer spotted Ferguson drawing on the job. It was just a month after the dealer and his partner, Bevan Dunbar, had opened their nearby gallery, and he immediately invited Ferguson to come by with his portfolio. “I completely freaked him out,” Finer admitted. Eventually Ferguson came around, and is now showing his work for the first time ever at the fair.

Fun Fact: Many artists balance their practice with a day job, but Ferguson, who is completely self taught, literally makes all of his work during his shifts at the co-op. That provides the public unique access to his work while it’s in progress. Ferguson has become something of a local celebrity, appearing on public radio and inspiring “crotchety old Vermonters” to drop off art supplies for his use, Finer said, noting that such gifts have inspired the artist to add color to his previously black and white drawings. “No one minds that he’s drawing—they are just happy he’s not on his cell phone.”

—Sarah Cascone


Alexandria Deters

Alexandria Deters, <em>Teal Swan</eM> (2022) from the series "False Prophets." Photo courtesy of Bill Arning Exhibitions, Austin.

Alexandria Deters, Teal Swan (2022) from the series “False Prophets.” Photo courtesy of Bill Arning Exhibitions, Austin.

What: Alexandria Deter is presenting a compelling new body of work featuring embroidered portraits of controversial female figures such as Teal Swan with Texas gallerist Bill Arning. “These are female evangelists who caused some trouble—either they killed people, or their followers killed people, or they caused mass suicides,” dealer Bill Arning told Artnet News. “These are on the whole not nice people!”

Showing at: Bill Arning Exhibitions, Austin

Prices: $1,200 to $1,400

Who: A queer writer, archivist, and appraiser based in the Bronx, 30-year-old Deters met Arning when she wrote about a show he curated with Andrew Edlin on Paulina Peavy, an artist who communes with the spirits. But their professional relationship took a turn when the dealer learned she was also an artist. You might recognize Deter’s work from outings at New York’s Spring Break Art Show in 2021 and 2022. And Genevieve Gaignard included her in a virtual group show she curated as an artist-in-residence at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in 2020.

Fun Fact: It was the 2021 death of Gwen Shamblin Lara, the founder of a Christian diet program, in a private plane crash that inspired the “False Prophets” series. “Alexandria was like ‘how many female cult leaders can there really be?’” the gallery’s Paul Samson told Artnet News. “Once she got into it, she realized how evil these people really are.”

—Sarah Cascone


Aron John Dubois

Aron John Dubois, <I>Serpent</I>, 2023. Courtesy of the Valley, Taos, New Mexico.

Aron John Dubois, Serpent, 2023. Courtesy of the Valley, Taos, New Mexico.

What: 30 works on paper by the Santa Fe-based tattoo artist light up New Mexico gallery the Valley’s booth. Aron John Dubois employs different classical tattoo imagery like spider webs, cartoon characters, and occult symbols to create unique compositions that feel spiritual and humorous in equal parts. These specific works are inspired by the spring and winter seasons, and the natural processes and changes that occur throughout. 

Showing at: The Valley, Taos, New Mexico

Prices: Works are priced at a modest $1,500 to $3,500, as their director, Ari Myers, wants Dubois’s tattoo clientele to be able to purchase a smaller work should they want to. “His prices won’t always be this low, but the people he tattoos are collectors of his work as well, no?” Myers noted.

Who: Dubois has received no formal education past high school, and is completely self-taught. He works out of Shrine Tattoo in Santa Fe. 

—Annie Armstrong


Scott Csoke

Work by Scott Csoke at the Outsider Art Fair. Photo by Annie Armstrong.

Work by Scott Csoke at the Outsider Art Fair. Photo by Annie Armstrong.

What: A suite of delightfully Pepto bismol-hued paintings by Scott Csoke, all of which have cheeky names like Gay Flowers on a Gay Table and Gay Little Room. Viewed in the grouping curated salon-style on Alexander DiJulio’s outward-facing wall, the works take on an irresistible irreverence. 

Showing at: Alexander DiJulio, New York

Who: The Brooklyn-based painter creates his work in series pertaining to a certain set of visual motifs, the one on view at the Outside Art Fair being domesticity and still-life. The artist works in chunky acrylic in eye-catchingly spirited hues, refusing to shy away from bubblegum pink, kelly green, and electric cobalts.  

Prices: Around $3,000 to $5,000

Fun Fact: Csoke says that the goal of his artwork is to poke fun at and question the stereotypes of the gay community, especially online. As he told Metal Magazine, “Gay art isn’t just about sex or a naked guy on a bed.”

—Annie Armstrong

The Outsider Art Fair is on view at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, New York, New York, March 2–5, 2023

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