December 17 - February 28 2016

Charles A.A. Dellschau (1830 - 1923) "PAGE 4 GOOSE" and "Aero PAGE 57, FIG 2", some of Dellschau's very first known works of art made in 1898 at the age of 68.




Stephen Romano Gallery is pleased to announce a very special and historic exhibition by one of America's earliest known visionary artists Charles A.A. Dellschau.

Dellschau is "widely acknowledged as an Outsider Art master in the same league as Henry Darger, Adolph Wolfli and Martin Ramirez".

Since his death in 1923, this will only be the third ever solo exhibition mounted of the artist's work.



The art of Charles Dellschau is included in such prestigious collections as the American Folk Art Museum, The High Museum, Atlanta, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Museum Of Everything, London, The Menill Collection, Houston, The San Antonio Museum, TX, The Witte Museum, TX, The Kohler Art Foundation, Wisconsin, ABCD Art Collection, Paris. Dellschau's works were recently featured in the NY Times in a review of an exhibiton at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn NY.


Charles A.A. Dellschau "PLATE 2333 ON WATHER ON LAND AND UP TO THE CLOUDS" MAY 15 1911 code at the bottom of drawing.

and verso

"PLATE 2332 (verso of previous) DM=XO UP COMPAIR DOWN" May 12, 1911

Charles A.A. Dellschau "PLATE 1953 DM=XO HIER PRESSURE MOTOR" July 10, 1909

In the fall of 1899, Charles A.A. Dellschau (1830-1923), a retired butcher from Houston, embarked on a project that would occupy him for more than 20 years. What began as an illustrated manuscript recounting his experiences in the California Gold Rush became an obsessive project resulting in 12 large, hand-bound books with more than 2,500 drawings related to airships and the development of flight. Dellschau's designs resemble traditional hot air balloons augmented with fantastic visual details, collage and text. The hand-drawn "Aeros" were interspersed with collaged pages called "Press Blooms," featuring thousands of newspaper clippings related to the political events and technological advances of the period.

After the artist's death in 1923, the books were stored in the attic of the family home in Houston. In the aftermath of a fire in the 1960s, they were dumped on the sidewalk and salvaged by a junk dealer. Eight made their way into the collections of the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Witte Museum and the Menil Collection; the remainder were sold to a private collector.

Dellschau's works have since been collected by numerous other museums. These private works were not created for the art world, but to satisfy a driving internal creative force.

* Dellschau's work was in large part a record of the activities of the SONORA AERO CLUB, of which he was a purported member.

* Dellschau's writings describe the club as a secret group of flight enthusiasts who met at Sonora, California in the mid-19th century. (c. 1854 - 1858)

* One of the members of the SONORA AERO CLUB had discovered the formula for an anti-gravity fuel he called "NB Gas." Their mission was to design and build the

first navigable aircraft using the NB Gas for lift and propulsion.

* Dellschau called these flying machines Aeros.

* Dellschau does not claim to be a pilot of any of the airships; he identifies himself only as a draftsman for the Sonora Aero Club.

* Beginning in 1898, at the age of 68, and over the course of the next 23 years, while isolating himself in a back room of his niece's house in Houston TX, Dellschau produced close to 5000 watercolor paintings.

These works were hand bound into 12 volumes, some of which are illustrated below.


* His collages incorporate newspaper clippings (called "press blooms") of then-current (1908 - 1922) news articles about aeronautical advances and disasters, mainly from the Houston Press.

*According to a coded story hidden throughout the drawings which made up his notebooks the Sonora Aero Club was a branch of a larger secret society known only as NYMZA.

* Despite exhaustive research, including searches of census records, voting rosters, and death records, nothing has been found to substantiate the existence of this group except for a few

gravestones in the Columbia Cemetery where several of the surnames are found.

* It is speculated that, like Henry Darger's "Realms of the Unreal", the Sonora Aero Club is most likely a combination of encounters the artist experienced in real life as well as fiction.

*In the mid 1960's, all of Dellschau's art was disgarded, and shortly after rescued by an antiques dealer in Houston, and thus began it's amazing odyssey through the artworld.

* The art of Charles Dellschau has inspired plays, art performances, a fashion line, music, a role playing game, and many other related artforms.



Charles A.A. Dellschau Book 11, 1919 - 1920


One of the most aclaimed art writers of our time, Thomas McEvilley (1939 - 2013) - who wrote seminal essays on Anselm Kiefer, Julian Schnabel, Marina Abramović, James Lee Byars, and Yves Klein among many other - wrote in his final published essay of Dellschau:

".... There remains the question why Dellschau began making his elaborate painted and calligraphed works.  Perhaps it was just a creative impulse which is part of the human soul.  

In that case Dellschau was not trying to convince anybody of anything, simply titillating his soul in his old age, perhaps as a part of a preparation for passing on.  Viewed in this way the work seems to foretell an ascent to heaven for which the artist’s soul has opened itself, partly through the activity of making his art.  In the universe Dellschau has created in watercolor, the sky is dotted by decorative floating airships.  It is as if the round aeros were ascending to heaven, or preparing to.  It could be Dellschau’s vision of the afterlife, or of his anticipated transition to it.  The same seems true of Yves Klein’s fantasy of levitation.

"Dellschau’s most basic composition has a rounded aero in the middle of the usually square pictorial surface, surrounded on all four sides by an elaborate decorative border.   These borders usually describe squares or rectangles in which the angelic visions of aeros are held in place in the sky.  The roundness of the aero held in place by the surrounding square suggests the angelic nature.  The surrounding square is the material world while the aero is lighter than air and rises into the sky like an angel floating or a soul ascending to heaven after death.  The square equals the earth--the compass-like measurement of flat space to be divided into square plots for earthly habitation.  The rounded nature of the aeros differentiates them from materiality and elevates them to a more spiritual and metaphysical function as in Plato’s metaphysical levels.  Above the level of the moon, in the Platonic-Aristotelian view, every entity is circular or spherical.  Sometimes the aeros show a division like that of the cosmos--square below, like a building on the earth,  rounded above, in the balloon section where the gas produced by the lifting fluid carries it toward heaven. In some cases there are wheels on the bottom, suggesting a desire to move while still in bondage to the earth; on the top, offsetting the theme of earthiness suggested by the wheels, is the   gas-filled balloon, which is soft and cloud like.  The bottom will meet the earth with the mechanical mediation of wheels; the upper part rises to meet heaven, but with a soft and cloud like presence."  

Aeros of this type are devices to mediate between earth and heaven, or above and below.   

They are, on this interpretation, transformative devices whereby the square materiality of earth is transformed, in the hidden inner space atop the aero, to the floating angelic cloud like softness of heaven.  ..." 

In his review of the monograph on Charles Dellschau, noted art historial Charles Russell writes of Dellschau:

"We ask at just what point the artworks, which appear to be modeled after architectural drawings or engineering blueprints, cross fully into the realm of the aesthetic. Thomas McEvilley describes this as "the edge between historical space and pure or Ideal space." Barbara Safarova suggests that Dellschau's drawings shatter "the boundaries between science and art, between document and fiction." For this is the liminal state (a place of transition) where imagination and reality join to create the waking dream of art which we ceaselessly seek."


For further information and visuals for this exhibition. please contact Stephen Romano Gallery at or 646 709 4725



Charles A.A. Dellschau in "OPUS HYPNAGOGIA" at Morbid Anatomy Museum, Brooklyn, July - October 2015



Charles A.A. Dellschau "PLATE 4677 HAS BEEN WILL BE" (closed and open) August 20 1919


Charles A.A. Dellschau "PLATE 4306 AUTO FALLEASE" and verso "PLATE 4305 WITHE WASH AIR EEE" February 1919


Charles A.A. Dellschau "PLATE 4538 CRASEY UNDER TAKEN" January 1, 1920


Charles A.A. Dellschau "PLATE 4728 BERLIN TO NEW YORK" and verso "PLATE 4729 IF I HAD THE M" November 1920


Charles A.A. Dellschau "PLATE 4488 AERO MYO" and verso PLATE 4487 MYOS DECK" October 1919


Co-curated by Tom Patterson and Roger Manley
January 17 – April 26, 2013

Charles A.A. Dellschau at Menil Collection 2012 Houston TX "Seeing Stars". Curated By Michelle White.



Charles A.A. Dellschau at John Michael Kohler Arts Center "Messages and Magic" curated by Leslie Umberger, 2008.

Charles A.A. Dellschau "PLATE 4552 ON WATHER LAND AND CLOUDS" January 23, 1920


One of Charles AA Dellschau's last known works, "PLATE 4795 FALL ACTEN" January 30 1921


Charles A.A. Dellschau at Dellschau at Turin’s Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli exhibition of “The Museum of Everything” April 2010 – 29 August 2010


Charles A.A. Dellschau "PLATE 4514 TROAE SEXION BOMBER" November 19 1919


About Stephen Romano Gallery

Stephen Romano Gallery is a new addition to the Brooklyn art gallery community, having opened its doors in April of 2014 in Dumbo and having relocated to Bushwick in September 2015.

Prior to opening the current gallery, Stephen Romano was a private art dealer for 15 years specializing in masters of self-taught and visionary art such as Henry Darger, Martin Ramirez, Charles Dellschau, Bill Traylor, Darcilio Lima, and many others. The Gallery's most recent exhibition El Gato Chimney’s “De Rerum Natura” was well received and reviewed, as was the preceding exhibition "Trypophobia" by Colin Christian. Stephen Romano Gallery also mounted the most ambitious exhibition of works by pictorialist photographer William Mortensen to coincide with the release of the book "American Grotesque" published by Feral House. 

Stephen Romano has been a participant in many art fairs including PULSE, The Metro Show, and the Outsider Art Fair.

In 2013, Stephen Romano produced a seminal 330-page monograph on visionary artist CHARLES DELLSCHAU designed by Marquand Books and distributed by DAP. The book generated several positive reviews from a wide variety of publications such as Bookforum, Raw Vision Magazine, The Atlantic, Slate, Antiques, and the arts and Design Observer, among many others. With an introduction by Stephen Romano, the book features the final published essay by renowned art writer Thomas McEvilley, as well as contributions from the founder of The Museum of Everything, James Brett, and the curator of Smithsonian Museum of Aerospace, Thomas Croutch.

In the same year, Romano also published the first ever post-mortem catalog of works by Brazilian visionary Darcilio Lima and most recently a catalogue of an previously unknown photographic series from 1925 by William Mortensen entitled "A Pictorial Compendium of Witchcraft," with an introduction by A.D. Coleman and essay by Tom Pattersen. Most recently, Stephen Romano Gallery had the honor of publishing a catalog of works by Pavel Kraus with an essay by David Ebony, as well as a catalog for Chinese artist Lu Zhang with essay by Robert C. Morgan. In 2015, the gallery produced a catalog of the "TRYPOPHOBIA" exhibition by Colin Christian with texts by Kris Kuksi, Allison C. Meier and Samuel D. Gliner. The most recent catalog was the gallery published was on Italian artist El Gato Chimney with texts by Martin Wittfooth, Pamela Grossman and Michela D'Acquisto.

In the summer of 2015, Stephen Romano curated the highly acclaimed exhibition "Opus Hypnagogia" at Brooklyn's Morbid Anatomy Museum. The exhibition was featured in the New York Times, as well as Juxtapoz Magazine, Hi-Fructose, Beautiful Bizarre, Brooklyn Magazine, among many others. This exhibition was followed up in the new Bushwick gallery with "Lexicon Infernali" and a solo show by Rithika Merchant and "Magica Sexualis" and a solo show by Los Angeles artist Jel Ena.

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