Our Visionaries

Current Exhibition:

The Great Mystery Show

The Great Mystery Show

Oct 7, 2017–Sep 2, 2018

From psychics to physicists, The Great Mystery Show artfully peels away the veil of the unknown, playfully exploring mystery as that one secret power behind great art, science, and pursuit of the sacred.

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Photo of Paul Darmafall

Paul Darmafall "The Baltimore Glassman"

(1925–2003)

Born September 26, 1925 in Moundsville, West Virginia to Polish immigrant parents, Paul Darmafall left school after the eighth grade and served as a gunner in World War II. He moved to Baltimore, married, and worked as a very competent bricklayer and machinist for Bethlehem steel. He and his wife, Bonnie, had three children. At age 28, he started leaving home for days at a time, often winding up several states away with no memory of how he had gotten there. At this time he experienced difficulties with reality, and continued periodically disappearing. These episodes led to hospitalization, where testing revealed he possessed an unusually high intelligence, but also a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Bonnie went to work to support their family. In the mid 1970's, inspired at first by our Nation's Bicentennial, Darmafall began creating paintings using colored glass, house paint, glitter, glue, and found objects. Darmafall's work conveys his strong beliefs about independence, liberty, history, self-sufficiency, the importance of fresh air and the evils of electricity, taxes, and air conditioning. His own personal messages were also included. When his wife begged him to find another work place other than their home, Darmafall moved his studio to the streets where he would often gift passersby who admired his work with whatever piece they liked most. Today, Darmafall's work is bought and sought after by art lovers throughout the world and is included in the permanent collection of our American Visionary Art Museum.

Detail: George Washington, Paul Darmafall