Gallery O on H Presents “Nell” and Bettie Sue Matthews Temporary

By Editorial Team on September 11, 2017

Fri, 25 August 2017 - Fri, 22 September 2017

Photo courtesy of Gallery O on H.
Currently on view through September 22, 2017.

Why cardboard? It’s a material that’s often free and plentiful in our lives. The work of “Nell” and Bettie Sue Matthews are very different but both carry the message “we are here.”

The story behind “Nell’s” artwork is a little murky. We have very few details about how long she worked as an artist, whether or not she had any formal training or what other than her mental health issues caused her to abandon her artwork.

“Nell’s” work was discovered by what came to be an accidental self-appointed guardian. When he was moving into an apartment in NY he came upon a large body of artwork in the building’s trash room. He felt compelled to rescue the work not knowing whether or not it was of any merit. He contacted the building manager and learned that “Nell” had been institutionalized for schizophrenia and consequently removed from her apartment. He was given the name of her court appointed attorney, whom he notified about the his “self-appointed custodianship” of the abandoned artwork.

He brought the artwork back to DC and stored it in his parent’s basement until he could place it somewhere for safekeeping.

Prior to finding the art in NY he had visited Gallery O on H and was aware of their commitment to “outsider art” and their desire to expand awareness of the wealth of unrecognized creativity it represented. In 2009-2010 he contacted them about taking custody of the art in an effort to review, catalog and hopefully safeguard it to determine the best possible opportunity(ies) for the work. Gallery O on H agreed to be the stewards of this huge body to work and accepted the entire “collection.”

Together they contacted the court appointed attorney in NY to explain our position. They never received any response.

Temporary is their first effort to exhibit a sampling of “Nell’s”work.

As a counterpoint to “Nell’s” work they have paired it with the joyful, expressive work of Betty Sue Matthews, a self taught artist from Dotham, AL who works on and with salvaged materials and uses a hatchet to cut out her figurative work.

Gallery Hours:

  • Tuesday – Friday: 3:30pm to 6:30pm
  • Saturday & Sunday by appointment.

Gallery O on H is located at 1354 H Street NE.