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Born in 1938, Helen Rae has been creating art since 1990 at First Street Gallery and Art Center, a progressive art studio for adults with developmental disabilities, now located in Upland, CA.

Her drawings, in colored pencil and graphite, are immediately striking for their vivid imagery, resonant use of color and innovative reworking of source material. Using fashion advertisements as a point of departure for otherworldly journeys into the subconscious, Helen transforms the original images into something uniquely expressive, which possess a strange beauty and power.

Helen’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions throughout the United States, Scotland, Belgium, Japan and Paris and she has received features in Vogue, Vulture, and The Los Angeles Times among many other publications.

In the The Los Angeles Times, critic David Pagel observed: “The electrifying energy that pulses through her pictures gives form to a cosmos that is not anthropocentric. Humanists might be terrified by this perspective. It flies in the face of everything egotists live for. But it’s also thrilling. In the 18th century, philosophers described the combination of excitement and terror as sublime. Today, that term has fallen out of fashion. But it captures the alien beauty of Rae’s art. Her drawings have their roots in fashion magazines. She tears out full-page spreads and uses a pencil to roughly sketch their contours on sheets of paper. She then sets to work with colored pencils. Rae draws like she means it. Her colors are saturated and dense. Her lines decisive. The scarcity of shading gives her images uncompromising intensity. Her laser focus is vivid in the abundance of detail, particularly in the complex patterns of the fabrics she selects and edits, judiciously simplifying some elements and making others more complex, irregular, mind-blowing. Rae flattens volumes, collapses space and fractures planes in ways that make Picasso’s Cubism seem amateurish. So convincing is her vision of things that after looking at four or five drawings you feel like an alien — out of place in a world that shares significant features with everyday reality but is charged with a kind of sizzling energy that is both exhausting and intoxicating."

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2019
Summer Exhibition: Recent Works, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY

2018 
Ladies on Ladies, exhibition from the collection of Charles-Henri Filippi, Art Absolument, Paris, France
Recipient of the Wynn Newhouse Award
Beyond the Bouquet, Descanso Gardens Sturt Haaga Gallery, La Cañada Flintridge, CA

2017 
Helen Rae, solo exhibition White Columns, New York 
Art and Advocacy: To Be Developmentally Disabled (TBD), California Museum, presented in partnership with the California Disability Community Action Network (CDCAN) and Choices Person Centered Services with the California Person Centered Advocacy Partnership, Claraty Arts and The Art of Autism, Sacramento, CA

2016
Outsider Art Fair, Paris, France
Nothing Compares To You, Riverview School, East Sandwich, MA (Figurative works from the collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg)
Helen Rae, solo exhibition, The Good Luck Gallery Los Angeles, CA
Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY

2015 
Helen Rae, solo exhibition, The Good Luck Gallery Los Angeles, CA

2014
 Full Circle: 25 Years of First Street Gallery & CGU, group exhibition, East and Peggy Phelps Galleries, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA

2012
About Face, group exhibition, Acme, Los Angeles, CA


SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Wheless, Avery, “Helen Rae,” Artillery Magazine, 2019.
Pazderka, Tom, “Enter a Helen Rae Show a Blank Slate, The Good Luck Gallery,” LUM Art Zine, 2019.
Rawles, Erica, “Critics’ Picks: Helen Rae,” ARTFORUM, 2019.
“Marlon Mullen and Helen Rae,” Disparate Minds, February 16, 2019.
Wheless, Avery, “It’s Chinatown,” Artillery Magazine, 2019.
“The Good Luck Gallery: Los Angeles,” Raw Vision, 2019.
Miranda, Carolina A., “Datebook: Los Angeles on canvas, neon installation and light-bending sculpture,” Los Angeles Times, 2019.
Thapar, Aakriti, “Helen Rae: A woman who speaks through her art,” BBC News, 2018.
“Helen Rae at White Columns,” Disparate Minds, October 3, 2017.
Saltz, Jerry, “Three-Sentence Reviews: Peter Saul’s Fake News, Trevor Paglen’s Zombie Conceptualism, and 7 More September Shows,” Vulture, 2017.
Halle, Howard, “The top five New York art shows this week,” TimeOut New York, 2017.
Evans, Max, “Brut Force’s 6 for 16: Top Stories of Self-Taught and Outsider Art 2016,” Brut Force, 2016.
Elbaor, Caroline, “Outsider Art Fair Returns to Paris Focusing on the Spiritual,” ArtNet News, 2016.
Michno, Christopher, “First Street Gallery Helps Artists with Disabilities Find Their Voice,” KCET, 2016.
Heyman, Jessie, “How a 77-Year-Old Disabled Artist Finally Got Her Moment,” Vogue, 2016.
Black, Ezrha Jean, “Strike the Pose: Getting High Inside High Fashion From Way Outside – The Art of Helen Rae,” Artillery Magazine, 2016.
Pagel, David, “An alien beauty to Helen Rae’s female subjects at the Good Luck Gallery,” Los Angeles Times, 2016.
Rhodes, Mick, “Age has no boundaries for artist’s striking work,” Claremont Courier, 2016.
“Masters and Emerging Artists at the Outsider Art Fair,” Disparate Minds, February 5, 2016.
Bruney, Gabrielle, “Intricate Colored Pencil Works Explode with Texture,” VICE: City Guides New York, The Creators Project, 2016.
Pagel, David, “Exhibition Review: ‘Helen Rae’,” Gallery Magazine, 2015.
“Helen Rae: Recent Drawings,” Disparate Minds, May 14, 2015.
“Helen Rae at The Good Luck Gallery,” Disparate Minds, April 16, 2015.

 

PRIVATE COLLECTIONS

Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg

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