Creative Growth

Established 1974, Oakland California

Creative Growth was the first of the Katzs’ three bay area programs and, at 40 years old, is most  likely the oldest Progressive Art Studio. Among this field, Creative Growth is widely understood to be the studio that is most recognized and connected to the contemporary art market, and has served as the initial inspiration for many others to create similar studios across the country.  Many of their artists have exhibited internationally in prominent galleries and museums such as White Columns, Gavin Brown Enterprises, Gladstone, Ricco Maresca, Andrew Edlin, the Museum of Everything, the American Folk Art Museum, etc.

We stopped by Creative Growth’s impressive Oakland studio and were given a very brief impromptu tour from their rising star, Dan Miller. Unfortunately, though, we weren’t able to speak with any staff or formally tour the studio; the day we visited they were busy preparing for the 40th anniversary Gala.

Judith Scott. Untitled, 2004.

Judith Scott. Untitled, 2004.

Creative Growth often participates in high profile art events and are extremely successful in both exhibiting and selling artists’ work.  For example, “Bound and Unbound” is an upcoming retrospective of the late Judith Scott’s prolific 20 year career at the Brooklyn Museum (October 24, 2014 - March 29, 2015). She remains the most famous of Creative Growth’s artists and this marks the first museum exhibition of her compelling sculptures, in addition to previously unexhibited works on paper.

Creative Growth is the program that brought this model, and this concept to the art world in terms of Outsider Art. What they’ve achieved in this manner is incredible and commendable. It’s important to note, though, that the propagation and development of this model by other organizations hasn’t been a benefit to Creative Growth, and in some ways has been detrimental to them.  An abundance of Progressive Art Studios dilute the romance of the Outsider image, so the future of this concept can no longer rely on replicating this success story.