After working as a social worker for Community Advancement in Baton Rouge for many years, in 1978 Shelby Gilley decided to pursue a longtime interest in art. Since his childhood in northern Louisiana and into adulthood, Shelby was fascinated with Louisiana history and culture. After he began to collect Louisiana art and antiques, what started as a hobby would soon become a full-time venture. It began as an interest in the work of Clementine Hunter, but soon developed into a full-fledged appreciation of folk and outsider art. Soon thereafter, Shelby began to represent the now iconic works of David Butler, Raymond Coins, Mary T. Smith, and the colorful preacher-artist Howard Finster. Shelby took a keen interest in Outsider Art because of their unique approach to the work, in that most Outsider artists know very little about the art world, along with their innovative use of the materials they have at hand. When these traits are seen in unison, Outsider artists represent a distinctly humble and honest approach to art.
Through his efforts to represent the works of Outsider artists, Shelby Gilley became part of the vanguard of collectors and gallery owners who launched an awakening of Outsider and Folk art during the 1990s, along with putting Gilley's Gallery on the map both locally and internationally. Today, this legacy of promoting Outsider Art is continued by Shelby's son, Eric Gilley. Along with Folk and Outsider art, the collection at Gilley's Gallery includes contemporary fine art and fine prints from artists such as John James Audubon, Robert Rucker, and Don Wright. Through the collection of art, Gilley's Gallery has made a name for itself with its custom frame shop, where one-of-a-kind mouldings from local suppliers and national lines meet precision craftsmanship and an attention to detail. With an ever expanding collection of unique Outsider and Folk art, Gilley’s continues to be a premier destination for collectors from all over world.
Directions to Gilley's Gallery can be found here.