Naïve Art in the West: Urban, Suburban, and Rural: The Works of Sidney Kelsie, George Markel, and Martin Schatz


74 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-920534-55-4
DDC 709'.71





Reviewed by Terrence Paris

Terrence Paris is Public Services Librarian at Mount St. Vincent
University in Halifax.


In their brief introduction to profiles of three Alberta naive artists,
Czernecki and Rhodes observe that naive art’s essential quality is
integrity—“it is an expression of feeling without consideration of
recognition or reward.” They establish a clear distinction between
naive art and folk or primitive art. Naive art is more personal and
cannot be classified by any national or regional characteristics. Its
inventiveness and originality repudiate the pejorative “primitive

Essentially, this book is an album of color photographs of objects
created by three elderly, retired men, each of whom represents one type
of Alberta community. Sidney Kelsie of Edmonton worked as a logger and
house painter. George Markel of Medicine Hat was employed by City (of
Regina) Power and Light “at the intake, mostly, for the cooling
system.” Martin Schatz has farmed all his life near the foothills of
the Rockies. Sidney (the authors use first names) has filled his yard
with brightly colored, boldly pattered wooden cutouts, mobiles, plaques,
and found objects. “I had some kids come by here. They asked me if
this was Pee Wee Herman’s place.” His attempt to explain the source
of his inspiration might be applied to George and Martin as well.
“Just whatever comes into my head. It is like a record. One song on
one side and another song on the other side.”

The intended audience for this attractively designed book is not easy
to identify. Obviously, naive artists are sustained by their unique
vision, without any need to refer to others for inspiration or
validation. Now that Czernecki and Rhodes have celebrated the work of
male artists, it is time for the work of like-minded women artists to be
similarly honored.


Czernecki, Stefan., “Naïve Art in the West: Urban, Suburban, and Rural: The Works of Sidney Kelsie, George Markel, and Martin Schatz,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,