Saturday, June 25, 2011

Failure... or is it?

So I spent a good portion of the day cleaning my studio space a little and just sort of getting back into the swing of things with my collage efforts. I actually did two collages today. One was done in the spirit of my friend and fellow collage junkie Julie Sadler. Her collages are awesome and they are quite different in style compared to mine. Her process- which she uses to great effect-- is much more "free form" and she lets herself explore more that I do in my meticulous ways. So I decided to try to "let go" a little and work without much planning. The result I think turned out okay. Then I decided to finish a piece I had started a little while back. This piece is a bit more in my "voice". It's also the smallest collage I've made (measure 2" x 5"). Enjoy!

Flight for the Green Onion

There's a nice little pub that opened in Utica not too long ago next door to the Uptown Theater on Genessee St. One of my favorite things about the place (in addition to the great rotating variety of beers they serve) is the fact that there is NO TELEVISION!!! Conversation and music rule the space. The people who hang out there are really hip; with lots of artists in the crowd. I asked one of the owners (Collin) if I could collage the wood forms they use for serving "flights" of beer. He said yes; and here's the end product. Enjoy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Good news-- bad news-- good news (Schwitters)

On Wednesday of this week, I went to see the Scwitters exhibit at the Princeton University art museum. WOW! Awesome! Every individual interested in collage should see this show. These are three pieces which were in the exhibit. They were sold out of the catalog (but I am on the list!). The good news is that this is a GREAT show of Schwitters' works (which are rarely shown together). The bad news is that it is only up until June 26th. If by chance, you can see the show... SEE IT! So what's the other good news? The show will be moving to Berkeley CA for West coast fans. AND... I will post more photos once I get the exhibition catalog! Here is an excerpt from the NYT review of the show:
"Schwitters made no categorical distinctions between his art (painting, collage, sculpture, design, installation), his writing (poetry, essays, children’s stories) and his performances. To him they were all integral parts of a one-man cultural movement called Merz, which he invented, deriving the name from Kommerz, German for commerce.
The multidisciplinary nature of Schwitters’s output, which can make a career survey look like a group show, may be one of the reasons he remains an underknown figure. His sole American retrospective, at MoMA, was 25 years ago. Representative samplings of his art have since rarely been on view, there or elsewhere.
Yet he has had a huge effect on post-World War II artists and is revered by many. Two of the collages in the Princeton show are from Jasper Johns’s collection; two others are owned by Ellsworth Kelly. Robert Rauschenberg, who introduced Mr. Johns to Schwitters’s work, was a major fan. And a Schwitters effect, however indirect and unrecognized, can be spotted in much contemporary work.
Even in his own time he was hard to get to know. He made contradictory impressions on people who encountered him. To those who knew him through his performances he was an extrovert: a large, hammy guy with big ideas and a big voice, relishing the role of clown.
But he could quickly drop into loner mode, shy away from company, rebuff unsought friendship, assert the middle-class proprieties he grew up with. After bouts of what seemed like compulsive extroversion, he spent long stretches on his own. And the dozens of collages and assemblages at Princeton suggest how he used that time.
Meticulously puzzled together from paper, fabric, wire, scrap wood and other everyday materials, these pieces are the work of a sorter and measurer, a concentrator, a tabletop worker, someone who found satisfaction — more than that, comfort — in up-close, fine-grained aesthetic control. Even the Merzbau, with its interior network of nooks and shelves, projected deep focus, on a walk-in scale."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

blast from the past (well, actually a photo)

I was going through old shots in Photoshop and came across this one from several months ago. If you follow this blog you may recognize some of the elements on the table. They have become integral parts of finished pieces. It's kind of interesting for me to "go back in time" and see them before I had decided on exactly what I was going to do with them. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Review and nice shots

My artist friend Julie Sadler is always so supportive of my creative efforts. What a wonderful review of my Arkell show at! Thanks Julie!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

more on inspiration

I posted something similar a few months ago; but I think it is worth reposting some new images and showing how raw images serve as initial inspiration for some of my pieces (because the MOST common question of me is "Where do you get the ideas for your pieces?"). Here are a couple of images that I got from a vintage French story book. They both inspire me in an "invasion" kind of way. Of course the window in one of the images will most likely be replaced by some spacescape. The lighting is awesome and it provides me with a nice 3-D illusion. The one with the woman walking the dog is quite thought-provoking as it is, methinks. I've illustrated here how just adding a circular element (it's technically two related elements) with stark color contrast can enhance the "collaged" image immediately. I will probably be working on these images over the next couple weeks-- exploring images and experimenting with placements. I will try to post intermediate images in the progress (but I can never guarantee that "documentation Steve" will be at the side of "creative Steve"-- perhaps fodder for another post). Enjoy!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

after reception glow

Wow... the reception at Arkell/Canajoharie library and the after-party at The Elephant Bistro were both awesome! It was great to see artist friends and former students and family and friends and meeting new folks too. Three pieces have already sold (which is an added bonus). But what is WAY more important to me is that people are so supportive and like the work that I do. I am truly grateful and feel SO fortunate to be able to pursue my creative endeavors AND have people support me in those "travels". Thank you so much everyone! And I know some other folks would have made it if they hadn't had other obligations. Man, I am blessed. I can only hope that my artwork makes the world a little happier place and that perhaps inspires others. I didn't take too many photos because I was busy, but here are some including some from The Elephant Bistro (owner Autumn and Mary Carol are in the one at the bar). I would HIGHLY recommend The Elephant Bistro to anyone visiting Canajoharie for the day. Again, thank you everyone for making it a great day! Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I thought that some people might be interested in a brief "lesson" in collage technique. I took photos while I was creating "Delicate Rana" (i.e., the blue frog piece) to illustrate the importance of covering edges in collage. Here you see the white edge of mat board on which the collage was created. Simply by using matching paints to cover these white edges, you get a much "cleaner" look which results in more powerful impact (imho). I use a ripped off piece of a foam "brush" for best results (if you use a standard paint brush, it's more difficult to keep paint from "straying" onto the surface of the collage). Enjoy!


I'm working on a somewhat larger scale piece these days. The primary element is something I cut from a canvas wall hanging that I purchased in New York City last year at a flea market. The wall hanging illustrates the internal organs of the human body and was probably used in an elementary school. Last week one night when I was working on detail cutting, I sort of cracked-up because I realized what I was doing was like some kind of weird collage surgery. Here's a photo of the "operating stage". LOL. Enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

To The Power of N

Thought I would pass along this call for submissions to participate in an interesting collage event. Go to this site for more information

From their website:
"The medium of collage allows for the expression of concepts, ideas and emotions through the reinterpretation and recontextualisation of an endless array of discarded and then found materials.

But what if there were only a finite amount of pieces to choose from with which to make a collage? Would two collages created by different artists using the same materials end up looking the same, or at least similar? What about ten different collages by ten different artists?

Would a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters all eventually write Shakespeare?"

MoMA Picasso exhibit

I have been SO remiss in posting on my blog, that I am trying to "catch-up" a little this week. In May, Mary Carol and I went down to NYC to see the Picasso "Guitars" exhibit. Although the focus of the catalog (and title) for the exhibit was on the guitar form, I was struck by the essence of all of the work (i.e., not just the guitar images) in terms of Picasso's exploration of collage itself and of collage as part of truly "mixed media". I have read in various art books that Picasso originated collage as a legitimate medium in modern fine art, but was invariably disappointed when authors typically relied on the same single image to illustrate this [see the ocre-colored guitar piece with the blue rectangle in the upper center entitled "Guitar, Sheet Music and Glass" (1912)].The exhibit at MoMA included SO MANY more pieces which served as a testimony to Picasso's genius with regard to collage (Picasso never seems to disappoint!). It seemed to this naive observer that Picasso was not so much interested in collage as a single medium, but as a means to explore the possibilities of intergrating images. Some of the "collage" elements in his paintings are actually paper elements; but some of the elements that look like paper are actually painted (e.g., the faux woodgrain). I was also struck by the simple collage elements that were included in his charcoal drawings. They were minimalist, but exquisitely placed! I particularly like the piece with the "J" precisely cut at its origin. Enjoy!

ROCO cont'd

Here's the one I REALLY wanted to purchase (was one minute too late!); and the piece I had in the show (the frog entitled "Delicate Rana"). Enjoy!

Rochester Contemporary Arts Center 6 X 6 show collages

The opening of the ROCO 6x6 exhibit/fundraiser was Saturday. What a wonderful event it was! I had submitted last year, but did not attend. This year I went up with Mary Carol and some friends and had dinner before heading over to the show. It was a bit overwhelming at first. With 3000 images on the walls, it felt a little frenetic... but in a good way, of course. There were loads of hip, artsy folks there. Here is a sampling of some of the collage work I found quite interesting. BTW, I would post the artists' names, but they are not available (they're "hidden" beneath the pieces until July 1st). I bought the light-colored one with the light blue-green element. Enjoy!