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Born 1938 in Claremont, CA; died 2021

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 SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2020
The Evolution of Helen Rae, Tierra del Sol Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2019
Helen Rae, The Good Luck Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2017
Helen Rae, White Columns, New York, NY

2016
Helen Rae, The Good Luck Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

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

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2020
An Alternative Canon: Art Dealers Collecting Outsider Art, curated by Paul Laster, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Vanguard: Origins of Tierra del Sol Arts, Claremont Museum of Art, Claremont, CA
Good Luck, SHRINE, New York, NY
Vernacular Woman, Ricco/Maresca, New York, NY
Outsider Art Fair, New York
Sexual Personae, curated by Alison M. Gingeras, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, France

2019
Summer Exhibition: Recent Works, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Helen Rae et les lauréates du Prix Art Absolument pour l’Outsider Art, Art Absolument, Paris, France
Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY
Felix Art Fair, Los Angeles, CA

2018 
Ladies by Ladies 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
The Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Art Vol. 2: The Rings of Saturn, curated by Bob Nickas, Kerry Schuss Gallery, New York, NY

2017 
Art and Advocacy: To Be Developmentally Disabled (TBD), California Museum, Sacramento, CA

2016
Outsider Art Fair, Paris, France
Nothing Compares To You, Riverview School, East Sandwich, MA
Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY

2014
Full Circle: 25 Years of First Street Gallery & CGU, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA

2012
About Face, Acme, Los Angeles, CA

SELECTED COLLECTIONS
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
American Folk Art Museum, New York

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