“Flyers”
Mixed media reverse glass collage
16 x 28 inches (unframed dimensions)
2000
$3,500
“From Which Place — The Unborn — The Unforgiven (No.222)”
Photocollage (cut silverprint strips)
8 x 29 inches (unframed dimensions)
1990
$6,000
“Where Once Existed”
Collage of acrylic skins on wallboard
24 x 48 inches (unframed dimensions)
2000
$7,500
“Nocturnal Movement (No.196)”
Photocollage (cut silverprint strips)
6.25 x 26.75 inches (unframed dimensions)
1990
$6,000
“Untitled”
Collage of acrylic skins on opaque white glass
16 x 10 inches (unframed dimensions)
2001
$1,800
“Rescue”
Mixed media reverse glass collage
20 x 18 inches (unframed dimensions)
2000
$2,750
“Light Silence — The Refrain (No.111), 1990”
Photocollage (cut silverprint strips)
8 x 21 inches (unframed dimensions)
$6,000
“Untitled”
Collage of acrylic skins on wallboard
24 x 48 inches (unframed dimensions)
2000
$7,500
“Untitled”
Collage of acrylic skins on wallboard
24 x 48 inches (unframed dimensions)
2000
$7,500
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Bio Synopsis

Tom McNease was a true Outsider who lived in the bayous of the most southeastern region of Louisiana for 45 years. He moved several times within this area, building a cottage at each location with easy access to the bayou. For one of those cottages he built a glass roof so that he could look up to the sky day and night. It was later wiped out by a hurricane. For the last fifteen years of his life he lived at the edge of Honey Island Swamp, a 250-square-mile protected wildlife sanctuary forming Louisiana’s easternmost border with Mississippi. A recluse, he loved the swamp and could easily launch his kayak in the Old Pearl River, which ran its course 40 miles down to the Gulf of Mexico.

McNease was a completely self-taught artist. In 1970 he discovered photography and focused upon natural abstraction. Those images share their closest affinity with works by Wynn Bullock and Minor White as well as certain works by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Brett Weston. From 1975 to 1978 he had a dozen exhibitions of his photographs at galleries in New York, Dallas, Santa Fe, and New Orleans, and his works were published in the Swiss magazine, Camera. The New Orleans Museum of Art purchased three of his chemigrams. 

McNease’s photocollages, constructed of carefully arranged thin strips of cut-up photographs, are rhythmic abstract images that break new ground. He then made the transition from photographic techniques to new painting techniques. He was likely unaware that during the 1970s he also contributed to the history of collage when he invented a unique transfer technique with acrylic pigments, which appears to have no precedent. He would paint individual brushstrokes or pour swirling acrylic pigments on glass and let them dry. He would then scrape them off, setting aside a supply of hundreds of them. Finally, he selected the individual dried brushstrokes and arranged and affixed them to a support material such as glass or wallboard. 

Generally reclusive to begin with, after his wife’s death in 1999 he became agoraphobic and buried himself in his art. He was prolific. Fifteen years later, in October 23rd, 2014 he suffered a bout of severe abdominal pain, but true to his nature would not see a doctor. What was later determined to gallstone blockage eventually ruptured. But he refused to go to the hospital, instead choosing suicide by shooting himself.

This exhibition represents the first time his photocollages and painted collages have ever been seen. 

An Outsider’s Statement

No longer have much contact with the outside art world in particular. Mostly contact and dialogue with Nature. But that doesn’t tell you much, does it? Quite some time ago, over 20 years now, I did the “usual” things one does in art — the shows, collections — all over the country, and particularly with photography. But that road can quickly lead to a “loss of meaning” if one is not careful — becomes “about the artist” rather than “about the art.” So I left that scene to develop my art, self, and particularly pursue a long held idea of mine — to see and view the world in the eyes and mind of the feral child. Thus, new thought, new idea and new technique. Had to invent techniques to go with ideas — and definitely did not wish to incorporate idea-technique from previously developed art. My paint transfer technique allows complete control over the paint (though the imagery may well not show this). One can transfer to any mount, cut it, tear it, shape it, use it with other sources (mixed media), attach to armatures and hang as mobiles and on and on — a virtually unlimited “technical palette.”  

— Tom McNease, January, 2009 

Read the full backstory about McNease here.