donald mitchell

Born 1951, San Francisco, California
Has practiced at Creative Growth since 1986

African-American artist Donald Mitchell was born in San Francisco and has lived with his family in the Bayview/Hunters Point district all of his life. He is the third of 11 siblings and has enjoyed and benefited from the support of his large family as well as friends in the community where he is a familiar resident.  

Donald has been a studio artist at Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland since 1986.  His early work consisted primarily of obsessively crosshatched fields of lines or brush strokes that obliterated the ground and hid any trace of underlying image.

Several years ago a change began in Donald’s responsiveness to his environment that heralded an accompanying change in his artwork. Beginning in small sections of each piece of art, Donald started to uncover the faces and forms buried in the darkness.  Soon the work began to be populated by figures both in motion and in thought-filled repose. The dense compositions of scrawled lines or expressive brushstrokes create visions of relationships between people that are both dependent and independent of each other. The forms can be autonomous or overlapping, in horizontal fields or a vertical line, with imploring gazes that stare out to the viewer. He renders these anonymous people one by one until his page is covered with often dozens of totemic figures. Today his fundamental imagery remains the same – legions of crowded figures march across the now illuminated field of his vision.

Donald is the subject of an artist’s monograph, edited by Cheryl Rivers and published by Creative Growth in October 2004, with contributions by Tom di Maria, Lucienne Piery, Frank Maresca and Lyle Rexer, and Colin Rhodes.

Donald’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum and has exhibited his work at the Berkeley Art Museum, Collection de l’Art Brut, Gavin Brown’s enterprise in New York, Galerie Impaire in Paris, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Rena Bransten Gallery.

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2019
Outsider Art Fair, New York
Outsider Art Fair, Paris
CE x CG x NIAD, Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco

2018
Outsider Art Fair, Paris
New Art Dealers Alliance Fair, New York
Outsider Art Fair, New York
D’Dessin Art Fair, Paris
Visual Oasis: Works from Creative Growth, Carson City

2017
D’Dessin Paris Contemporary Drawing Fair, Paris
Outsider Art Fair, New York,

2016
Duvel Moortgat Fund, MADmusée Liège, Belgium
New Art Dealers Alliance Fair, Miami
American Dream, Direct Art Gallery, Dusseldorf, Germany
Outsider Art Fair, Paris
Large Drawings, Home, 836M, San Francisco, CA
Casale Monferrato Castle, Italy
Art Fair Tokyo, Tokyo Art Osaka, Osaka
D’Dessin Paris Contemporary Drawing Fair, Paris

2015
Vis-à-vis, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, curated by Michael Mahalchick
Outsider Art Fair, New York
D’Dessin Paris Contemporary Drawing Fair, Paris
Art Fair Tokyo, Tokyo
Extra Celestial, Crosstown Art, Memphis

2014
Mental Contours III. – Lines of Force, Artinbox Gallery, Prague
Outsider Art Fair, Paris
Outsider Art Fair, New York
D’Dessin Paris Contemporary Drawing Fair, Paris

2013
Outsider Art Fair, New York
Creative Growth, Galerie Art Cru, Berlin
Creative Growth, Park Life Gallery, San Francisco
D’Dessin Paris Contemporary Drawing Fair, Paris
Almost Home, Diego Rivera Gallery (SFAI), San Francisco
Margins to Mainstream: Contemporary Artists with Disabilities, Sonoma County Museum, Santa Rosa
Outsider Artists, Oakland Museum of California at the Oakland International Airport, Oakland, curated by Philip Linhares

2012
Cutlog Art Fair, Paris
Outsider Art Fair, New York
Independent Art Fair, New York
Frieze Art Fair, New York
D’Dessin Paris Contemporary Drawing Fair, Paris
Creative Growth, Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York, curated by Amie Scally
Inside Out, Galleri NordNorge, Harstad, Norway
Different and Special, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Korea
John Hiltunen +1, Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, curated by Matthew Higgs

2011
Revealed, Galerie Drylewicz, Paris
New Art Dealers Association Fair, Miami
Insider/Outsider Art: Selections from Bay Area Collections, Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek
Exhibition #4, Museum of Everything, London
McGuire Furniture, San Francisco and New York
Outsider Art Fair, New York
Manhattan House, New York

2010
Visions of Paradise, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Sonoma
Georg Jensen, New York
Outsider Art Fair, New York
In The House, MadMusée, Belgium

2009
Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin
Revealing the Human, Arts Project, Melbourne
Again and Again, Galerie Impaire, Paris
Outsider Art Fair, New York

2008
Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art, Chicago
Bienal de Arte Contemporaneo Funcacion Once, Madrid
Queens Nails Annex, San Francisco, curated by Julio Morales

2007
Jack Hanley Gallery, Los Angeles
ABCD, Paris
Observer Event, New York

2006
Jack Hanley Gallery, Los Angeles
Berenberg Gallery, Boston
Visionary Output: Work by Creative Growth Artists, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
Armory Art Fair, New York
Outsider Art Fair, New York

2005
New Art Dealers Association Fair, Miami
Intuit Fair of Folk and Outsider Art
White Columns, New York
Leon Borensztein and His Friends: A Look At Creative Growth Artists and Their Work, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, curated by René de Guzman and Tom di Maria

2004
Outsider Art Fair, New York

2003
Lucky Tackle Gallery, Oakland

2002
Southern Exposure, San Francisco