Thursday, August 13, 2009

Leechburg Visionary Artist: Peter (Charlie) Besharo

I can't fully explain it but a lot of the work I'm most drawn to could be called "visionary" or "outsider".

Looking through my Outsider Art Sourcebook, I came across an artist, whose work I had seen published before that seemed full of both beauty, and enigmatic mystery.

Peter was born in Syria in 1899 an migrated in his teens into the area north of Pittsburgh, working at first as a peddler in the mining communities. He finally settled in Leechburg and made his living as a house and sign painter. Few knew him well, and almost none knew he was an artist. 70 strange works were found after his death in 1960 laden with images of spaceships, crosses, galactic combat, mythological and religious references as well as hopeful messages predicting world peace and brotherhood.

Of course half the fun is wondering about what he was thinking.

From the Encyclopedia Of American Folk Art

Besharo was much affected by the World Wars, the development of nuclear power, the Cold War, and his own experiences as an Arab living as a member of a minority group in his adopted country. Popular cul-ture, as reflected in comics, pulp magazines, and illustrated books, may also have influenced his conceptual ideas and visual forms. Besharo transformed all that he saw into a personal vocabulary of form.

Besharo’s painted fantasy adventures in space and interplanetary interaction appeal to a universal interest in transcending mundane, everyday life and replacing it with exciting and surprising journeys. Rooted in his Arab heritage, the conflicts of his early life in Lebanon, and his integration into local American community life, in particular his involvement in church and fraternal organizations, Besharo takes a broad historical view—albeit with a liberal mixture of fact and fiction—and foresees eventual cosmic peace.

Peter Besharo's work is in the collection of The National Museum Of American Art, Smithsonian Institution in D.C. and The American Folk Art Museum In New York.

1 comment:

BSH said...

Wow, this is really cool stuff! Thanks for this post!