Home is where the art is for Keith Sadler—the folk and outsider art collector has been curating flea-market finds for more than 20 years. Today his collections fill his Uptown one-bedroom, making his home a peculiar work of art itself.
When Sadler began acquiring art in the early 80s, he was on the hunt for pop pieces and kitsch, but often brought home handmade works by unknowns instead. "I like the mixture of very commercial with the totally unique," he says. Sadler's obsessive style of stockpiling is revealed in the absurd quantity of John F. Kennedy salt and pepper shakers lining the kitchen shelves. "If one JFK salt and pepper set is good, 35 sets are better," he says. "I literally want every one ever made."
Sadler displays his acquisitions with a keen eye for organization. Paintings by self-taught artists neatly paper the walls. Head sculptures by grade-schoolers span the exact length of window sills. He arranged a giant horse sculpture in the very middle of the living room. A 1920s-era sideshow carnival banner is centered above the only two chairs in the house. Even the drying rack is a display for decorative plates, souvenirs from a pair of religious-themed roadside attractions: Iowa's Grotto of the Redemption and Wisconsin's Dickeyville Grotto. He's also visited Pasaquan, the former art compound in Georgia built by late folk artist and mystic Eddie Owens Martin, aka St. EOM. Sadler keeps Martin's painting of an antigravity power suit above his bed and has a matching tattoo on his arm.
The dining room is dedicated to paintings by Stephen Warde Anderson, a self-taught artist from Rockford whose subject matter includes portraits of B-movie stars, royalty, and boy-band members. Sadler will loan a few of these pieces to the "Collective Soul" exhibit opening September 19 at Intuit.
Since retiring, Sadler has cut back on collecting. "If I am buying anything anymore, it's usually photo related," he says. "Photos take up such little space compared to a horse made from an old oil drum."
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