A stroll down East 10th Street in the 1990s was never a casual experience. Arrests, drug deals done in public view, hookers, tattoo parlors and random gunshots were the norm. In the center of all this was a small hidden art gallery called “Utrillo’s Art.”
In the window of Utrillo’s Art one frequently saw small, pop art paintings of kitty cats, or a friendly landscape, which did not prepare you at all for what you found inside and that was usually the many works of Jan Scott Boyer. Boyer himself was a frequent patron of the gallery. He rarely spoke and one could not help notice the pistol attached to his belt. His hand never strayed far from his gun. Greg Brown, the owner of that late gallery, only explained that Boyer was hyper sensitive, so I didn’t inquire, but oh, did I absorb Boyer’s work. Boyer, like his work, is enigmatic, but it is a loud sort of mysteriousness which you are forced to respect.
Boyer refers to his work as “Allism.” I’m not sure what that means, but I am sure that the description seems apt since his imagery seems to include just about everything, including the kitchen sink. Boyer’s earlier works were often sexually graphic. That quality has long since disappeared, but his work is no less provocative and no less hypnotic.
Among the earlier works is the epic “Circus of the Imagination” with literally thousands of figures crammed into what could only be described as something akin to a Hieronymus Bosch or Ken Russell carnival. “Allism: The Next Wave” features rocketing giant penises amidst a disturbingly surreal universe. In that canvas and in canvases such as “Days in Taranta”, ‘Allism Pyramid”, ‘Allism in Toyland”, and “Worlds of Allism” unspeakable acts of torture and sexual humiliations are being perpetrated upon exposed women. These works are as unsettling as stumbling upon one of the many second and third century Gnostic Apocalypses. Understandably, damn few women responded to Boyer’s works from that period.
Later, Boyer’s works became increasingly obsessed with his unique shapes and compositions, taking him into the realms of energized landscapes, such as ‘Superstructure” and “Skyline.” Voodoo masks were a frequently repeated them, and later Boyer ventured into complete abstraction in canvases titled “Infinite Energy Array” and “Shattered.”
* I came across a 1995 treasure: a Nuvo article on Jan Scott Boyer, that I thought couldn’t be more perfect. It was written by art critic Sharon Calhoon.
“ARTIST JAN SCOTT BOYER has been writing to me for about 18 months.
Sometimes it’s once a week, sometimes once a month. All the letters
are the same- usually on legal paper, cursive at the beginning,
jabbingly printed at the end, highlighted with red underline marks
and words running in every direction.
They all read the same. Here’s part of his March 12,1995 letter-
which is much like the others:
IMPORTANT YOU READ.
Dear Miss Calhoon
I have solidified STRONG SUPPORT for my ALLISM ART on Mass Ave,
Galleries, I am getting a following downtown, my ALLISM ART is being
collected already, now I am about to expand to another gallery, one
perhaps two are ready to give me a serious ALLISM Show. I plan a show
in 95 in Indianapolis, perhaps Chicago, I will go to Chicago next,
will expand to Broadripple too.
ALLISM is the HOTTEST art in Indy.I will simply let them see the
magnetic art power, will ignite INSTANT momentum, chain reaction,
make instant MOST visible. ALLISM IS MY CUBISM, only MORE powerful.
BOTTOM LINE it is SERIOUS ART ABSOLUTELY…REVOLUTIONARY ART. BEYOND
ROCK IS ALLISM NEXT WAVE most powerful cutting edge thing going on
in art in Indy, AMERICA, if you are a SERIOUS PROFESSIONAL AT ALL
come to my studio bring MR. Ullmann.
My art is BODACIOUS but PURE FREE LIMITLESS I EXPLORE ILLUMINATE
Black hole of ART UNIVERSE. Dare to go beyond.
Jan Scott Boyer Creator of Allism.
After years of this kind of relentless communication with just about
everyone remotely connected with art, Boyer is finally being
exhibited at the Denoument Gallery. Though Boyer is actually a damn-
fine painter, his imagery couldn’t be more disturbing.
It is obsessive sexual imagery where nude and wicked women are
exposed and posed in the most degrading manner. They are dismembered.
Devilish heads emerge from their abdomens while the monster’s horns
spear the evil goddess’s huge breasts. Every manner of body fluid is
squirting out of every imaginable and unimaginable site. Boyer
totally exposes these women’s labium and rectums. Multiple large
penises of many colors penetrate the women. Long tongues snake toward
the orifices. Fecal matter oozes forth.
In some of the smaller canvases Boyer focuses on a singular evil
queen. In larger works there is a network of such women, who exist in
corners of the futuristic Allism metropolis. In these scenes, BLADE
RUNNER landscape meets the psycho, carnivorous sexual pervert.
Most critics, gallery owners and media persons have believed if they
ignored Boyer, he would go away. There has been a universal attitude
of ‘not encouraging’ him. Despite his treatment, Boyer has
Steven Stoller, Denoument Gallery’s owner, said he gave Boyer the
exhibit because the artist has followed his personal vision for
seven years, regardless of the media and art community’s inattention.
Stoller considers Boyer an outsider artist and he may be right.
In the largest definition of the term, outsider art is created by a
self taught artist who works tirelessly in a vernacular of his own
invention. He is not influenced by market or fad. Where Boyer
separates himself from true outsider artists, though, is in his
obsession to gain attention for his work.
Some pretty pushy artists have sent mail my way, but none come close
to Boyer. His pestering borders on harassment .Although I’d seen a
piece or two of Boyer’s art over the last two years, I went to his
opening because you never know where genius lurks. There IS something
lurking in Boyer and his work, and it’s pretty creepy. At the
opening Boyer told me that if I wrote about him, he wouldn’t bother
me again-and I have witnesses.”
Jan Scott Boyer’s work can be seen and purchased at the Artistic Spirit Gallery website, which is below, along with that site’s bio on Boyer.
Artistic Spirit Bio:
Jan Scott Boyer was born in Indiana in 1941. He attended area Catholic schools but suffered from a learning disability and never attended high school. He began painting as a teenager and did both landscapes and abstracts. He traveled and sold his canvases all over the Midwest but was overcome by stress and placed on disability. His career has been a study of contrasts. He has been a three time prize winner at the Hoosier Salon. In 1989, he created “Allism,” an abstract motif that depicted horrendous scenes of torture. He has been placed under scrutiny because of a letter writing campaign to area art professionals but he has also been featured in local and national outsider art shows. The content of his work continues to evolve, as does his process. An overview of his paintings of the last fifteen years or so will show the deliberate changes he has made. The transition is never sudden but the viewer can see old merging with new forms until he has adapted to his latest subject matter and painting techniques. He will spend weeks completing details on his canvases, some containing hundreds of figures, buildings, or objects from his very creative imagination.