Our Visionaries

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YUMMM! The History, Fantasy, and Future of Food.

Thru Sept. 3, 2017!

Our latest mega exhibition featuring 35 visionary artists exploring the human relationship with food.

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Charles Dellschau, Detail: 4700 Me and CUTTS, Collection of Tom Isenberg

Charles Dellschau

(1830–1923)

Charles August Albert Dellschau was born on June 4, 1830 in Prussia. In America, he worked as a butcher and then retired to a small attic apartment in Houston, Texas. His earliest known artwork is contained in an illustrated diary dated 1899. He continued to work until 1922, filling at least 13 notebooks with drawings, watercolors, and collages depicting imaginative airships and an account of his mid–19th century involvement as a draftsman for the super secret (and potentially imaginary) Sonora Aero Club that possessed an antigravity fuel called, "NB Gas." Dellschau's tale was focused on the Club's passionate desire to create humankind's first navigable aircraft.

Charles Dellschau's entire body of work was thrown into a Houston landfill after his death in April of 1923 (at age 92). Happily, it was spotted and salvaged by used furniture dealer Fred Washington who stored the piles of handmade books in his warehouse under a pile of discarded carpets. A university student named Mary Jane Victor asked Mr. Washington to consider lending some of the books to her university for a display focused on the story of flight. Famed art collector, Dominique de Menil, then bought four of the books from Mr. Washington. Pete Navarro, a commercial artist and UFO researcher, acquired the remaining books. Exhibitions of this great and nearly unknown visionary, have now been shown around the world.

Strangely, Dellschau began his airship drawings shortly after a documented 1896–1897 wave of UFO-type sightings of "mystery airships." In their book, The Secrets of Dellschau, authors Navarro and Crenshaw reason a possible tie between the strange sightings recorded in western newspapers of their day and Dellschau's artful account of the secretive Sonora Aero Club.