March 19, 2021—Adams and Ollman (Portland, OR) and JTT (New York, NY) in collaboration with Fleisher/Ollman Gallery (Philadelphia, PA) are pleased to present Dear John, a bi-coastal exhibition conceived as a special tribute to the legacy of maverick art dealer John Ollman (Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia) on the 50th anniversary of his career. Dear John illustrates how Ollman—one of the preeminent champions and scholars of self-taught art in the United States— has challenged conventional hierarchies, brought non-traditional art forms to light, and pursued varied interests from ethnographic to 20th and 21st Century self-taught art.
Attributed with championing Bill Traylor, Martín Ramírez, James Castle, Philadelphia Wireman, William Edmondson, Henry Darger, and countless others, John Ollman is one of the—if not the —leading advocates for self-taught artists, establishing their legitimacy in collecting and the contemporary art market. Ollman was a pioneer in dissolving labels, with an emphasis on identifying an artwork’s quality regardless of how it was classified. Starting off in the ’70s as the director of Janet Fleisher Gallery, he started showing works by African, Oceanic, and self-taught artists when it was unstylish.
Ollman’s leadership is also marked by empowering younger voices, playing a crucial role in the origin of Amy Adams’ and Jasmin Tsou’s respective galleries and fostering a new generation of art dealers presenting self-taught artists within a contemporary art context. “It occurs to me now that we instinctively wished to spread John’s lessons to others,” relays William Pym, who worked closely with John at Fleisher/Ollman in the early aughts.
The west coast iteration of Dear John at Adams and Ollman will feature major works by James Castle (1899–1977) in conversation with a range of works by contemporary artists including Katherine Bradford, Vaginal Davis,
Lois Dodd, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Jeffry Mitchell, Emily Mae Smith, Jessi Reaves, Becky Suss, Ricky Swallow, Willa Wasserman, among others. Ollman has a special relationship with Castle’s work; he first exhibited Castle in 1998 and continued to champion his work and career from the discovery stage through recognition by major museums. Much like Ollman’s direct and indirect influence on the field of self-taught art and new generations of gallerists, artists, and writers, Castle’s work continues to reverberate. The exhibition is accompanied by a text written by UK-based gallerist and writer, William Pym: https://adamsandollman . com/See – it – All – William-Pym
The east coast iteration at JTT will include artists that John Ollman enthusiastically shared with Jasmin Tsou during the formation of her program, as well as artists that JTT now represents as a result of Ollman’s influence on her understanding of art history. This presentation will include works by Marlon Mullen, Diane Simpson, Bill Walton, James Castle, Felipe Jesus Consalvos, William Hawkins, Philadelphia Wireman, Eugene Von Bruechenhein, Joseph Yoakum, William Edmondson, and others.
Coinciding with the presentations at Adams and Ollman and JTT, the online archival presentation “Back Stories” by Fleisher/Ollman will be available at the gallery’s website: https://www.fleisher-ollmangallery.com/
418 Northwest 8th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97209, United States