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 Gayleen Aiken  (1934 - 2005)

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Lived/Active: Vermont      Known for: outsider art, naive painting

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Beverly Gayleen Aiken is primarily known as Gayleen Aiken

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"Bad Raimbilli Children when Young, Up in the Bedroom", 1994, mixed media on paper, 14" x 17"
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Gayleen Aiken was born on March 25, 1934 and lived most of her life in Barre, Vermont. 

An only child, she began drawing at an early age and developed the many themes she would explore throughout her life, including the imaginary Raimbilli family with its 24 cousins.   Beginning in her teens, Gayleen became a faithful diarist and record keeper of the people, objects and events in her life.  In the early 1980’s, she was introduced to Grass Roots Art & Community Effort (GRACE) and during the ensuing years, Gayleen shared her unique artistic vision with the world through GRACE’s exhibition program.  Her paintings and drawings included themes of personal importance, Vermont’s granite industry, the large old farmhouse where she grew up, musical instruments, and the Raimbilli cousins.

Gayleen’s work has been shown in major American folk art exhibits in the United States including the American Visionary Museum in Baltimore, Maryland in 2004 and a one-woman show at Lincoln Center in 1987.  Her work is in the permanent collection of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum of American Folk Art in Williamsburg, Virginia, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC and the American Folk Art Museum, New York. 

She is the subject of Jay Craven’s award-winning film, Gayleen, and was a recipient of a Vermont Council on the Arts Fellowship.  In September 1997, Harry B. Abrams, Inc. released  Moonlight and Music: The Enchanted World of Gayleen Aiken.  Her artwork has been featured in Raw Vision, Folk Art Finder, Visions, Intuit, The Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Preservation Magazine, and Folk Art.

Gayleen Aiken died unexpectedly at her home on March 29, 2005.

Grass Roots Art & Community Effort, Grace Putnam, Director

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
From Barre, Vermont where she has lived alone in a basement apartment, Beverly Aiken creates narrative fantasy drawings on which she often places text to make sure the viewer understands the message. Often her subjects are the "Raimbilli Cousins", her imaginary friends that she has been drawing since she was in grade school. Of them, she said: "I always thought it would be fun to make believe I had a lot of cousins." Her mediums are oil, crayon and watercolor on paper and paperboard, and then she quite often adds words in blue and red.

Aiken was discovered by a folk art dealer in Burlington, Vermont.

Chuck and Jan Rosenak, "Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists"

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