Gayleen Aiken’s Raimbilli Cousins

Gayleen Aiken’s Raimbilli Cousins

On View: April 18 through June 3, 2016

Reception & Gallery Talk:

Thursday, April 28, 3:00–4:30 p.m.

The A.D. Gallery is pleased to present Gayleen Aiken’s Raimbilli Cousins, an exhibition on loan from the Luise Ross Gallery in New York. Gayleen Aiken is a self-taught artist from New England whose creations reveal her relentless energy in depicting the main themes of her environs. Vivid memories of her family’s stately home, her twenty-six fictitious Raimbilli cousins, the nearby granite factories, and transcendent panoramas draw the viewer in and seduce with a singular sense of place.

Aiken was born in Barre, Vermont in 1934. Her father operated a sporting goods and fix-it shop on the first floor of the family's large farmhouse. An only child, Aiken began drawing a group of imaginary playmates that she named "the Raimbilli cousins" just before entering grade school. By the time she was 8 or 9, she had made life-sized cutouts of 24 cousins—including "Cousin Gawleen"—using cardboard boxes from the outboard motors her father sold. She was teased and bullied by classmates, so her parents began home-schooling her in junior high. After her father died in the early 1950s, Aiken recalled, the family "got poor," the beloved old farmhouse was sold, and she and her mother moved into an apartment. Still, Aiken continued making pen and crayon drawings of the Raimbilli cousins living out adventures she dreamed of having—from dancing in the moonlight and playing pranks on parents to witnessing inanimate objects sprout arms and legs and come to life. In the 1980s, Aiken began painting at workshops sponsored by Grass Roots Art and Community Effort (GRACE), a non-profit that brings art programs to nursing homes, mental health centers, and adult care centers in northern Vermont.

Please join us at the A.D. Gallery for a reception on Thursday, April 28, which will include a presentation and discussion with gallery owner, Luise Ross. Since its inception, the Luise Ross Gallery has represented the work of notable self-taught artists including Bill Traylor, Minnie Evans, Carlo Zinelli, Gayleen Aiken and Lonnie Holley. The gallery has also represented Walter Anderson in New York, and its exhibitions over the years have introduced the artist’s work to an increasingly wider audience outside his native South.

Gayleen Aiken's creative vision has been shown in major exhibits of American art in the U.S. and Europe. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the American Folk Art Museum.