Rosemary Scanlon, Macro Garden (detail), 2014. Digital Wallpaper. 

There are a number of notable stories in the art-world about posthumous success:  the outsider, whose artistic talent went unrecognized in their own lifetime. Perhaps the stories appeal to our sense of justice – a sort of vindication for the overlooked. Perhaps, some identify with a shared sense of despondency and insignificance. Or possibly, these tales inspire resolve and hope in our own hidden talents. Whatever the psychology behind our fascination, the tragic posthumous fame of figures like El Greco, Vincent van Gogh and Arthur Pinajian linger in our collective memory.

This Sunday, April 27th, the Yukon Film Society and Yukon Arts Centre will introduce our audience to another of these figures with the film. "Finding Vivian Maier". This documentary details the life, discovery and subsequent celebration of Vivian Maier – a lifelong nanny from Chicago, Illinois with a private yet consuming passion for photography. Just before her death in 2008, Maier’s photographic legacy was discovered through the auction sale of her abandoned storage locker.  Her candid portraits of Chicago and its people have solidified her as one of America’s most influential street photographers.In addition to this enthralling film presentation, we also encourage you to visit Rosemary Scanlon’s exhibition, ‘The Rose Parade’, whose work is notably influenced by the artistic legacy of another outsider and figure of posthumous success: Henry Darger.

Henry Darger, Untitled (Spangled Blengins). Watercolour, pencil and collage on paper. American Folk Art Museum.

Henry Joseph Darger Jr. (April 12, 1892 – April 13, 1973) was a reclusive writer and artist, who worked as a custodian in Chicago, Illinois. Only after his death did landlords discover his 15,145 page fantasy manuscript, entitled “The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion”, along with several hundred drawings and watercolour paintings illustrating the story. Much like Vivian Maier, Darger’s life has been documented in the 2004 film "In the Realms of the Unreal”, which re-established him as one of the most famous figures in American outsider/folk art.

Henry Darger, Untitled. Watercolour, pencil, carbon tracing, and collage on pieced paper. American Folk Art Museum.

Much of Darger’s work illustrates idyllic Edwardian interiors and flowered landscapes populated with fantastical creatures and children (modelled on popular caricatures such as the ‘Coppertone girl’).  Through an intricate organization of compelling characters and ornamental elements including luscious floral bursts, Darger creates panoramic otherworldly scenes.  His unique style of mixed media collage incorporates magazine, newspaper and children’s book clippings either traced or directly pasted into his elaborate watercoloured illustrations.

Rosemary Scanlon, Manhole, 2012. Watercolour.

Echoing Darger’s detailed designs, Scanlon’s watercolours portray similarly strange scenes, populated with iconic figures and whimsical creatures in familiar yet equally foreign Northern landscapes. Scanlon also incorporates floral patterns and religious/cultural iconography into her mixed media collages, although her use of digital media and the cultural significance of borrowed symbols speak much more of contemporary trends and technology. 

Rosemary Scanlon, Wrestling (detail), 2014. Watercolour, gold leaf.

Both Darger and Scanlon’s artwork burst with shared whimsy, regaling the viewer with weirdly wonderful scenes and stories. We urge you not miss your opportunity to experience Scanlon’s uniquely “humorous and mildly unnerving” work in ‘The Rose Parade’ exhibition, showing for only two more weeks at the Yukon Arts Centre Public Art Gallery!

For more information about Rosemary Scanlon and her work, please visit her website.