Every, who also calls himself 'Dr. Evermor,' is the better-known artist. Anyone who's driven by the old Badger Ammunition Plant has seen his swords-into-plowshares creations, which evoke Jules Verne by way of Mad Max. But few will have heard Every's techno-cosmological rap, which marks him as a true outsider. As does his attitude about the possible audience for his work. 'I'd rather have a little old lady in tennis shoes from Nebraska come here,' he says, though the cravat around his neck suggests otherwise. I loved Every's description of the Overlord Master Control Unit, a gargantuan thingamajig that's literally guaranteed to make you smile.
Nadine Mercil is a different kettle of fish altogether. Interviewed in her home, which is crammed with her various paintings and assemblages, Mercil both shuns and longs for success in the official art world, finally shouting, 'I deserve it. I'm good.' Hard to imagine Henry Darger, the glory boy of outsider art, ever saying that. There's a whiff of Darger in Mercil's work, which combines the innocence of childhood with these amazing outbursts of profanity. ('I FUCKED MY FATHER,' one of her assemblages declares.) And somehow it doesn't surprise us when she confirms that she's an alcoholic, which she says wreaks havoc on her work.
I also got an Emily Dickinson vibe off Mercil ' the seeming reclusiveness and the intimacy with death. (She says she'd like to build a mausoleum and surround herself with her 'companions' ' i.e., her work.) And I wished that Perlman had probed deeper into the wellsprings of her art, not that he doesn't try. Directed and edited by Prolefeed founder Brian Standing, Scoop Perlman's Guide to Art takes a somewhat scattershot approach to its subject. For instance, I never did figure out where Mercil lives. But it's nice to know someone's out there on the margins, collecting art and artists that might not otherwise see the light of day.