From the outside looking in

Greg Pelner isn’t a child, although his work resembles that of a young artist. He’s a 40-year-old outsider artist who dabbles in various media, including oil, acrylic, clay, and aluminum foil. Pelner suffers from autism and epilepsy, but this hasn’t stopped him from traveling and showing off his work, which hangs in the permanent collection of the International Folk Art Museum.

At the age of 3, Pelner picked up foil and plumber’s tape and started creating sculptures. While discussing his life at a roundtable held at St. Mary’s Hall last week, he meticulously created figures while he spoke. Pelner’s creative talents extend to music as well: He considers music his hobby (he plays bass), but art is his work. In compositions such as “Bourbon Street,” Pelner combines his loves with a drawing of three jazz musicians.

Pelner’s single-day exhibit included nearly 30 pieces on display at St. Mary’s Hall theater, from nudes to horses at Griffith Park. Although his works are simple, they elicit feelings of nostalgia and wonderment. It isn’t so much that he’s overcome personal struggles to thrive as a renowned artist that makes his work compelling; it’s his ability to capture an uncorrupted view of the world during a time when war overshadows our daily lives. With the halls filled with drawings of angels, trolls, skunks, and wolves, Pelner presents a dreamlike view of reality — one people appreciate so much it’s
garnered the attention of the Outsider Art Fair, as well as galleries in Boston and Washington D.C.

Think in Pictures capitalizes on the medium that does Pelner’s visions the most justice — pastel on construction paper. A natural choice for any young artist, the combo of pastel and construction paper causes the child-like drawings to pop off the page without much detail. Pelner captures a youthful perspective on life, allowing viewers to examine their own worlds and imagine the possibilities of simplicity.

For more information on Greg Pelner’s artwork, go to