Jimmy Reagan’s “Outsider” Art

Jimmy Reagan is a Minnesota artist in his twenties. At age 2, he was diagnosed with a complex form of autism. In his teens, he began working as a serious painter, and he’s had a lot of success. Above is a self-portrait. I saw his work in a recent exhibit in St. Paul.

Above is another self portrait: “Jimmy Painting Pretty Girl in Orange Dress and Pearls.”

He does a lot of portraits. Above is his mom.

Apparently Jimmy has done some traveling. Above is a portrait of a “Girl from Italy.” He often paints his backgrounds and sometimes his frames with what he calls “ticks”–bright splashes of brilliant color.

Jimmy lists his artistic influences as Picasso and Van Gogh. I can see the influences, but to me Jimmy seems totally original.

This is “The Emperor.” Looks pretty self-important, don’t you think?

I like his “Golden Hair Man.”

I’m an aspiring painter myself, and I know what a challenge it is to develop a distinctive style. It really takes a distinctive way of looking at the world.

My painting teacher recommended the book pictured above, “The Innocent Eye” by Jonathan Fineberg. I highly recommend it. Many artists we think of as “modern,” like Picasso, Klee and Kandinsky, were fascinated by children’s art. They actually collected and studied it, and even collaborated with children.

Picasso famously commented that all children are artists. He said that when he was age four, he could draw like Raphael–very probably true. But he said that it took him a lifetime to be able to draw “like a child.”

I especially like Jimmy Reagan’s animal portraits. Above is “Blue Sheep,” acrylic on foam carving.

Here is “Cow, Pig and Rooster.” Jimmy has sold a lot of prints of many of these pieces. I can see why.

“Just Cow” may be just a cow, but what personality. She’s acrylic on carved foam.

Elizabeth” is another cow, an especially joyful one.

My very favorite animal of Jimmy’s is “Dirty Happy Pig.”

On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful there are “outsider” artists, and people who nurture and encourage them. I’m also thankful to be setting off on a trip, hoping to see lots of art. I’ll take Jimmy’s unique way of seeing the world with me.

Note on December 5, 2017:  Jimmy’s mother very kindly commented: “If you or your readers are interested, we are hosting a sale/exhibition on December 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th in Jimmy’s space at Sunfish Cellars in Lilydale, MN – http://www.sunfishcellars.com We will have artwork and Jimmy’s merchandise available for sale. It is family friendly. All are welcome.”   I’ll be there!

Jimmy’s website is http://www.throughjimmyseyes.com

9 thoughts on “Jimmy Reagan’s “Outsider” Art

  1. Peg Schneeman Reagan

    Thanks for writing this and seeing Jimmy’s exhibition as well! Peg Schneeman Reagan, Jimmy’ mom.

    1. Claudia Suzan Carley Post author

      Peg Schneeman Reagan, you must be so proud of your son Jimmy! I really love his work. I loved his portrait of you! If he has other exhibits coming up, would you send me another comment? I spend time in Colorado as well as in Minnesota. Best wishes for your thriving artist!

    2. Claudia Suzan Carley Post author

      Peg, if there is anything you’d like me to add to my post, or anything to change, please comment again. I can then make any changes and delete your comment. I was just using the info provided at the exhibit and in the Star Tribune article. There is probably a way you can contact me directly, but I’m not sure how without publishing my email.

      1. Peg Schneeman Reagan

        Claudia, Your descriptions are lovely! Jimmy’s website is actually – http://www.throughjimmyseyes.com if you or your readers are interested, we are hosting a sale/exhibition on December 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th in Jimmy’s space at Sunfish Cellars in Lilydale, MN – http://www.sunfishcellars.com We will have artwork and JImmy’s merchandise available for sale, It is family friendly. All are welcome. I’m so glad that Jimmy’s work has had a positive impact on you! All the best! Peg

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