First published: Fall 2015
Before opening her eponymous gallery in the River North neighbourhood of Chicago in 1995, Judy Saslow practiced family law and specialised in mediation. Saslow, one of the founding members of Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (established 1991), was also a serious collector. Earlier this year, Saslow decided to retire and close her gallery which had been instrumental in introducing European artists to the United States, including from the Haus der Kunstler in Gugging. We met in her office during her last week as a gallery owner, where the desk between us was covered with piles of paper along with various candy tins and jars, and a green, apple-shaped bowl filled with lemon drops. On the wall, facing Saslow’s desk, hung a large Bill Traylor blue silhouette – one of her favourites. Saslow said she hopes to do some volunteer work in arts education for children. One of the first things that she will do with her free time, however, is take a long train trip, although she has not decided on a destination. “The idea of going to some places I have never been, or revisiting parts of Europe, and sitting back and looking out the windows is really appealing to me,” Saslow said.
Judy Saslow with her collection of works by Bill Traylor
Raw Vision: How did you first become interested in this sort of art and what were your first acquisitions?
Judy Saslow: I’ve always been fascinated by the talent of those who could create and who could put something down on paper, or make something with their hands. I didn’t have that talent and my teachers at school certainly were not encouraging. They would tell me: “That is not the way you do it, you have to do it this way.” So, I was totally intimidated as a kid because I couldn’t do it their way. When I began to travel and see what artists in other cultures did with the most simple materials – pencil or raw clay or wood – that really impressed me, and I began to appreciate that art and to collect it. I picked up some of my first pieces at markets in Africa and Mexico. Then a boyfriend of mine introduced me to the work of Bill Traylor. There was a sympathetic side of me that was attracted to Bill’s story, but I was just as fascinated by his drawings. I don’t have any other artist in my collection in the same depth as I do Bill Traylor.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #87