Peter Cottontail and Fred Scruton at Steve Kaselak’s Jellybeanville; Euclid, Ohio 2016
About Alt–Stream Art and Photographer Fred Scruton
From a home base near Erie, Pennsylvania, Fred Scruton travels extensively throughout the United States to find, photograph, videotape, and write about artists working outside the mainstreams of contemporary art.
Partly a chronicle of his travels, this website showcases the work of many well- and lesser-known non-mainstream artists. Often called ‘outsiders’, ‘self-taught’ or ‘visionaries’, Fred maintains personal friendships with many of the artists and typically makes repeated (and on-going) visits over periods of many years. Through the Contact Page he can often help arrange visits with the artists — some of whom have work for sale — but no art objects are available for purchase through this website.
“While working as a freelance photographer of artwork and architecture in New York City during the art boom of the 1980’s, I would drive home from Manhattan along Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. Twenty-third Street was the turn-off street to my apartment, and in the mid-80’s, hand-painted religious signs began to decorate a corner building at that intersection.
Later, chalk rantings were scrawled on the walls and the narrow fenced-off area in front began to display assemblages of objects and signs: including smashed TV sets, an earth globe, a sewing machine, a decorative dove perched on a working lamp, and Louis DiBaggio’s family pictures. He lived alone in the four-story brick building and would write religious sentiments on paper cut-outs and index cards that could be seen sprinkled throughout his changing displays, or pinned to the white dress shirt he wore in public.
The emotional outpourings of Louis’ ‘installations’ contrasted powerfully with the contemporary art I was photographing professionally, and despite occasional harangues, I repeatedly photographed his work in black and white using a large 8×10 inch film camera. ‘Outsider’ art was mostly unfamiliar to me, but as my interest grew, Louis’ corner would come to mark a turning-point in my life as well. After he was apparently institutionalized and the building went up for sale, I was forced to look elsewhere for this unexpected, but now primary subject of my personal photography.
With art-making as seemingly their only commonality, this pursuit has brought me to a wide variety of people with vastly different life circumstances and experiences. The collaborative process of photographing, videotaping, writing about, and getting to know these artists and their work has enriched and broadened my own life immeasurably.”