Driven By Vision

Vision TV premieres a really interesting series this week. On Wednesday March 11 at 10pm, Driven By Vision enters its second season after a name change (the first season was entitled Shrines and Homemade Holy Places). Through seven half-hour episodes, we visit a number of unique art sites created by visionary (or some might just say eccentric) creators, many of whom seem inspired by their sense of connection with the divine. The show was created by Toronto-based Markham Street Films, and written and directed by Michael McNamara. The nine original episodes will air in the same timeslot beginning in May 2009.

A ringing endorsement from documentary legend Albert Maysles doesn’t hurt either:

This is exactly what we should be seeing on television…a message of hope through beauty in the subject matter and in the filmmaking.

What caught my attention about this was its similarity to a web series called American Dreamers that I wrote about a few months ago. It seems that this kind of “outsider art” architecture has captured the imagination of a lot of people, or at least a lot of documentarians. After watching it, though, I think this will interest almost anyone with an interest in building things or discovering interesting characters. It’s beautifully shot, and brings the viewer face to face with many works which will never appear in their local art museums.

In the first episode, we meet two loners who have devoted their lives to their individual art projects. Jim Bishop has spent the past few decades dedicated to building his very own castle in rural Colorado. Bishop’s Castle is indeed awe-inspiring, but this episode shows the darker side of the affable builder and tour guide and investigates some of the pain behind his obsession. We also meet the utterly charming M.T. Liggett, who has annoyed every one of his 250 neighbours in Mullinville, Kansas by immortalizing them in scrap metal sculptures. Using his art to work out his political and religious opinions, and even to memorialize past loves, he has caused controversy by planting his pieces along the sides of the highway on his property. What Liggett considers his open air gallery, the townspeople consider an eyesore, but it doesn’t seem to bother the 76-year-old Liggett in the least.

If the first episode is any indication, I’m very much looking forward to meeting the rest of this colourful cast of characters.

P.S. According to the Facebook fan page, the series is running on Ovation TV in the US.

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