Accidental Mysteries – John Foster Joins Almanac

| By: Nathan Sprehe
Nathan Sprehe

A tried and true way to solve big, important problems is to surround yourself with talented, unorthodox folks, who see the world through a different lens. With that in mind, I’m thrilled to welcome John Foster in the role of business development at Almanac.

Since forming Almanac in 2009, we’ve worked especially hard to identify and collaborate with the companies and organizations committed to moving society forward in a positive way. Our clients are tackling a range of difficult problems, from ending childhood malnutrition in an entire country, to revitalizing urban areas, to bringing more young people into a museum, to reimagining the built environment in order to promote a more sustainable way of life.

Meet John Foster – Almanac team bio

I’ve known John for many years and I’ve always been impressed with his warm and inquisitive personality. He’s genuinely curious about how the world works, fascinated by people and passionate about helping them connect the dots others just don’t see. John’s role at Almanac will be to help our team connect and partner with those purpose-driven clients who have tough marketing and communication challenges ahead of them.

John has a long history of working in the art, education, and design field, but he’s also a collector. He maintains Accidental Mysteries, a website featuring his extensive collection of “outsider art” and vernacular photography, for which he was named one of the Top 100 Art Collectors in the United States (Art & Antiques magazine, 2005). Additionally, he writes a weekly column on the Design Observer, a national website that features news and critical essays on design, urbanism, social innovation and popular culture.

Below we’ve included a few images from John’s collection but you really need to experience it in person. And you’re in luck! Through April 17, 2016 you can catch John’s show at Lambert St. Louis International Airport’s Lambert Gallery. It’s a must see.

For new business inquiries or to congratulate John with an offer of a celebratory beer, you can reach him at:

Welcome John!

Page of a 1932 scrapbook


Drawing by South Carolina self-taught artist Gene Merritt (1936 – 2012)



This found concrete garden horse had been painted multiple times over the years, and though broken, fits perfectly into John’s vision of collecting what he calls “the authentic.”



This 1950s game board was made from midcentury kitchen materials—red linoleum countertop and aluminum countertop edging. Handmade game boards this late in the 20th century were beginning to be a thing of the past, especially with the mass manufacturing of commercial board games by companies like Parker Brothers, etc.



Foster found this “damaged” painting of President Lincoln about five years ago. Originally painted by an amateur in the 1930s, the poor mixture of oil paint and almost 80 years of time caused a crackling of paint in all the right places.



Installation view of Foster exhibition in 2015 at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.



Recent press coverage of John Foster in Don’t Take Pictures magazine.