In reaction against the increasing abstraction and intellectual elitism of contemporary art as well as the economic, academic and social institutions that supported it, a small group of like-minded artists and gallerists sought to shed light on works being produced outside the art system. The resulting movement, condescendingly called "Low Brow" by critics pointed to another way of producing, thinking and talking about art. "Low Brow" art emphasized the human subject and his/her insecurities, fears, joys, dreams and nightmares in a figurative, pop culture-tinged style. "Outsider" and "Underground" artists became visible. Artists working in media as diverse as hot rods and children's books illustrations were brought together in a pluralist environment where the value of a work was determined not by its adherence to a particular style or its retail value, but rather its aesthetic and emotional impact.
Yet even among art that aims to be free of traditional categories and definitions, there is an ever-present danger of calcification and rampant commercialization. These dangers threaten to turn even the most unorthodox of movements into an exercise in mainstream banality. The very success of the Low Brow movement may curb those features that once distinguished it from "High Brow" art, with its rules and value judgments.
It is this freedom from art historical and art critical dogma that was the main inspiration behind the founding of Black Maria Gallery. The goal of the gallery has been to celebrate art that is accessible yet deeply personal and visually aesthetic yet unpretentious. In the ever shifting ground of contemporary art, Black Maria aims to present art that keeps true to the spirit of art itself: protean, socially, politically, personally engaged and relevant to more than just those in the know. Low Brow has already created a field from which there will sprout, be filtered and manifested works of genuine artistic power: works that will answer to the standards of neither High nor Low Brow, in effect shaping a "NO BROW" of uncategorizable art.