Monday, March 12, 2012

The Mystery of the Electric Pencil

Check out our Kickstarter Video!

Our documentary tells the story of an extraordinary artist who in 1925, at the tender age of 17, was committed for life, to State Lunatic Asylum #3 in Missouri.  Although we’ve discovered the identity of the artist, that discovery has revealed many mysteries yet to be resolved. With your help, using Edward's life history as a starting point and these amazing drawings as a backdrop, we plan to not only profile an amazing artist – but we’ll also tell the under-told story about how mental illness affects families and society... A story with great relevance today. 

We’re off and running!... We launched our Kickstarter Fundraising campaign to help us get this tragic, yet inspiring story out.  Kickstarter, as you may know, is an exciting new form of grassroots fundraising and marketing for creative projects. How does it work? A pledge of any amount  officially makes you a backer of the project. Pledges will only be processed if we make our total goal within 30 time is of the essence!  Check out our REWARDS!  It would be great to have you part of this important unfolding story!

Five years ago, New York based artist and art dealer, Harris Diamant, discovered an extraordinary hand made album containing 283 drawings done on ledger sheets from State Lunatic Asylum No. 3, in Nevada MO. The unknown artist was given the name THE ELECTRIC PENCIL, based on the title of a single drawing.

The album and drawings look like artifacts from a distant time; arresting portraits of people with startling eyes wearing 19th century clothing, Civil War soldiers, antique cars, fantastic boats and trains, country landscapes with roaming animals, and other drawings that seem fanciful and bizarre. Who was this artist? The artwork is a treasure-trove of clues… a diary that tells a story in the artist's own personal symbolic language.

Our documentary will tell the story of how this treasure was lost and then found. It's a tale of mystery and detective work that led to the discovery of the artist's family, confirmed the artist’s identity, and unearthed parts of his tragic, yet uplifting life story. Although we’ve discovered the identity of the artist, that discovery has revealed many mysteries yet to be resolved.

The ledger sheets, each imprinted with the name of the hospital, are another important that opens a door to a story of historic significance, the under-told and nearly forgotten saga of the beginnings of our mental health care system.

Our documentary project grew out of our increasing fascination with what we were uncovering. Our 18-minute documentary, The Electric Pencil -- introduces the story we've uncovered so far. Your support will help solve the unanswered mysteries and questions surrounding The Electric Pencil... helping us to produce a feature-length documentary for a national audience that tells the full story of the artist's troubled life and his extraordinary art.

Check out our Kickstarter video to see what we've done so far and come along with us on this journey of discovery...Thank you for considering our project!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

THE ELECTRIC PENCIL, The Artist's Identity has been discovered!

Our new VIDEO tells the story of Outsider Artist James Edward Deeds Jr. Committed for Life at the tender age of 17 to Lunatic Asylum No.3, Nevada, MO in 1925 after a stormy adolescence and chronic abuse at the hands of his father


Heavily subjected to psychotropic drugs and electric shock treatment, his is a tale of the need to create, even in the most adverse conditions. Deeds executed an extraordinary album of drawings, acknowledged as masterpieces of Outsider Art. The incarcerated artist created a world of formal beauty and calm in a life that could only be described as hellish. His story is a journey through changing times and the beginnings of our modern mental healthcare system.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


NY Journal of Books Review...

In 1970, a young boy rifled through a large trash container in Springfield, Missouri. He reached in his hand and pulled out a handmade album knit together with fabric and leather. Opening it, he saw drawings, 283 in all, that had been somewhat lovely sewn together into the old album, each hand numbered, and each drawn on ledger pages from the State Lunatic Asylum No. 3, located in Nevada, Missouri...