Singular Spaces: Art Environments in Spain and Around the World

Singular Spaces: Art Environments in Spain and Around the World

On October 20, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art (HFMA) invites the public to an illustrated lecture with scholar, curator, and award-winning author Jo Farb Hernández, who will explore some of the wild and zany, loved and sometimes reviled art environments found around the world. The lecture is free and open to the public and takes place at Willamette University’s Hudson Concert Hall in the Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center at 7:30 p.m. (doors will open at 6:45 p.m.).

Art environments tend to take widely varying forms depending upon the individual artist's vision. Well known sites — like Watts Towers in Los Angeles and Salvation Mountain in Niland, California — often include sculpture, architecture, landscaping, and painting within a single site, and are often developed by self-taught artists. 

This lecture is offered in conjunction with the Hallie Ford Museum of Art's current exhibition Strange and Wonderful: American Folk Art from the Willem and Diane Volkersz Collection, on view now through Dec. 22, 2016. The exhibition includes the work of several artists who created their own art environments, including Howard Finster who was known for his Paradise Gardens and Eddie Martin for his site called Pasaquan.

Director John Olbrantz says, "Jo's lecture offers an opportunity to further understand these spaces as she shares her views on this worldwide phenomenon, with a concentration on the Spanish sites that she has been documenting for the past 17 years.”

More About Art Environments Around the World

Take a virtual tour of these fascinating places by visiting SPACES interactive world map and learn more about art environments located in the Pacific Northwest as well as sites around the world (like Capricho de Cotrina in Spain which is pictured above). 

SPACES is a nonprofit public benefit organization created with an international focus on the study, documentation and archive of art environments and self-taught artistic activity.

Jo Farb Hernández

Jo Farb Hernández

"Bringing value and visibility to these works helps not only to preserve these singular spaces, but to expand the very definition of art itself."

Hernández is director of the Thompson Art Gallery and Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at San Jose State University; she also serves as Director of SPACES — Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments — a nonprofit archives documenting art environments and self-taught arts ( She has worked in the museum field for 40 years, including service as Director of the Monterey Museum of Art and President of the California Association of Museums. An award-winning writer, she has co-authored or authored over 30 award-winning books and exhibition catalogues, and regularly publishes articles for a variety of international art journals; she lectures widely at museums and universities internationally; juries national, statewide, and regional exhibitions; and has been a panelist for the California Arts Council in the U.S. Information Agency as well as for numerous private foundations and local organizations. She is a contributing editor for Raw Vision magazine, serves on the International Editorial Board for Elsewhere – The International Journal of Self-Taught and Outsider Art, and is a member of advisory boards for several art environments. 

Hernández is particularly interested in art environments and has done intensive fieldwork on this genre since 1974. In 2008 she received a Fulbright Senior Scholar award to research art environments in Spain, and the groundbreaking book resulting from this research, Singular Spaces: From The Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, was published by "Raw Vision" in 2013. It has been called the “... most impressive single volume of research ever published in the field of self-taught art.”

Financial Support
Financial support for this lecture has been provided by general operating support grants from the City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.

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