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The Daily Tar Heel

Durham gallery closes its doors after four years

For four years, Pamela Gutlon has brought the Triangle area together through a celebration of business, nonprofits and passion for making art.

Gutlon, who owns Outsiders Art and Collectibles, brought self-taught artists from all over the U.S. to Durham to share their passion for self-taught art with the community, but Gutlon said the gallery cannot continue to run in the economy’s current state.

“The community has been really bummed out, but they understand that in this economy, it’s not the time to be purchasing art,” Gutlon said.

Today, Outsiders Art and Collectibles will bring the Durham community together one last time before closing with “The Last Waltz,” an evening celebration of the arts. From 6-9 p.m. there will be a silent auction of one piece from each artist featured at the gallery since 2009, which is more than 60 pieces, Gutlon said.

Fullsteam Brewery will be pouring beer, and Only Burger, Pie Pushers and KoKyu food trucks will serve food throughout the night.

There will be live music performances by The Blue Tailed Skinks, The Bulltown Stutters, Matt Phillips and The Philharmonics, Katherine Whalen and other special guests, Gutlon said.

Cathy Kielar, who plays the base drum for the Bulltown Strutters, said the gallery has been a great contribution to Durham.

The Bulltown Strutters, a New Orleans parade-style participatory band from Durham, has played at Outsider’s on many occasions.

“We have lots of trumpets and horns, and folks come out and dance, so the gallery’s atmosphere is right up our alley,” Kielar said.

The band will be playing a selection of their most popular songs at “The Last Waltz,” including Li’l Liza Jane, Bourbon Street Blues, and more.

“We’re really going to miss playing at the gallery because it has always been such a wonderful experience,” Kielar said.

The gallery helped popularize dozens of outsider artists who otherwise would never have received recognition. Outsider art is a movement created by self-taught artists with no conventional training, just a strong passion for making art, Gutlon said.

Allison Lee Merriweather, an outsider artist living in Houston, Texas, had her work featured at the gallery for almost three years.

“Gutlon was a really active gallery owner, and she’s just a really nice person,” Merriweather said.

Merriweather said she paints whatever she feels at the moment — most of her pieces have a narrative.

“Gutlon usually choose bright, positive paintings, and the whole gallery gives off a whimsical, musical feeling,” Merriweather said.

Gutlon said she has mixed feelings about closing the gallery. She said she will move to Vermont to take a new position as an innkeeper. She said she plans open a new gallery bigger than Outsider’s with an outdoor component.

Gutlon said although people are sad to see Outsider’s Art and Collectibles go, she knows the area will continue to thrive in the arts.

“With this economy, there will always be some closing and another opening,” she said.

“I am so grateful for everything given to me in this community, and I couldn’t have asked for a better four years here,” Gutlon said.

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