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An Inside Look at Outsider Art: Louis Walker, Jr

Opening Night Art Exhibit Celebration

The Community Arts Council of Kankakee County (CAC) presents “An Inside Look at Outsider  Art.” Merchant Street Art Gallery of Artists with Autism will host the exhibition and sale of the work of Louis S. Walker, Jr., a Kankakee County native. 

The exhibit opening will take place on Friday, April 1, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. until 8:15 p.m. and  refreshments will be served. Opening remarks will take place at 7:00 p.m. The exhibit will run  from April 2nd through April 14th. Weekday hours are from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. Saturday  hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The gallery is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays. 

When Louis was 8, and the eldest of 4 children, his mother moved them from Chicago to Spinning Wheel Road and the Forest Valley Church community in Pembroke Township. That is  when Louis began to draw. He did not finish high school and in the late 70’s returned to  Chicago and began his version of outsider art, which has been described as raw, vibrant,  geometric, patterning, expressing an African-American urban perspective. As Louis explained,  “A dream will be an echo in my brain that triggers a drawing which comes into the world  because it seeps away from me through my hands onto the paper.” Louis was tragically injured  in a hit-and-run accident in Minneapolis leaving him 70% disabled. He returned to Kankakee  County and resides at Momence Meadows Nursing Center.  

The Merchant Street Art Gallery of Artists with Autism believes the art industry and community  provide opportunities for autistic persons to achieve and be productive in society. Janice Miller,  the Gallery’s Director, recognizes Louis’ “naïve” art as especially inspiring to her autistic artists. 

Irving Zucker, a retired Chicago Public School teacher and arts-in-education activist, began purchasing Louis’s art over 40 years ago, and has borrowed some previously sold pieces to  present, along with those that will be for sale at this art show. In 1988 Louis was introduced to  internationally renowned mural artist Keith Haring when Irving arranged for Haring to come to  Chicago as artist-in-residence for CPS and the Museum of Contemporary Art and create a 488 foot long mural in Grant Park along with 500+ public school students. Louis’ pieces have sold  for as much as $950. Irving will donate 20% of proceeds to the CAC and Prairie States Legal  Services, Inc. (PSLS).

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