Collaboration in Collage, part 3

February 24th, 2015

“We suspect that individual practices function more similarly to collective practice than most people imagine. Whether explicitly acknowledged or not, all forms of production are fundamentally based on collaboration in the sense that the artist inevitably draws on the influences and innovations of existing culture. In this sense, we feel that autonomous authorship only exists as cultural mythology.”
Soda Jerk (Berlin-based Australian duo)

 

Collaboration is expanding within the medium and taking many forms. Collage artists are teaming their talents to produce publications, for example. FABA Collage Mag (For And About Artists) is preparing to release its second issue.FABA, issue 2 Allan Bealy recently brought together the work of more than two dozen active creators to “Explode the Alphabet” with his Z2A. Each spread features an original solo collage based on the designated letter. Zach Collins takes the idea of synergy another step with a major exposition of how dynamic international collage collaboration has become. Anyone who has tracked the prolific artist could see this coming. We Said Hello and Shook Hands documents the results of his relentless series of virtual “jam sessions” from the past few years. Both publications benefit from the able editing of fellow collage artist Laura Tringali Holmes.

It remains to be seen whether or not we can expect a tide of post-centennial self-publishing, now that evolving technology has opened up new opportunities for collage artists outside the conventional art-book world. In any case, these examples are worthy of attention, as we build our collector libraries during this exhilarating period for collage.
 

H is for Homecoming ~ L T Holmes

H is for Homecoming
collage with mixed media by L T Holmes
8 x 8 inches, beeswax finish
part of Z2A by A Bealy

We Said Hello and Shook Hands by Zach Collins (Author, Designer) and Laura Tringali Holmes (Editor)

We Said Hello and Shook Hands
collage collaboration by Z Collins and F Free
back cover of We Said Hello and Shook Hands by Z Collins

Rhetorical Leap

February 17th, 2015

 
Rhetorical Leap ~ John Andrew Dixon

Rhetorical Leap
collage on canvas by J A Dixon
10 x 8 inches

•  S O L D

Bull’s-eye Nosegay

February 11th, 2015

“To get to be somebody who gets to love what they do for a living, that’s so rare, and so there must be some kind of price you have to pay.”
— Ethan Hawke

The Target Practice Project shows no signs of winding down. Two of the vintage targets from L T Holmes were still in my possession, so I started another piece last summer. It had a stubborn inertia of its own that repeatedly would cause me to set it aside until the next phase came into focus. It’s funny how a certain artistic progression can have “a mind of its own,” so to speak, and others can fall into place like clockwork. One of the things I appreciate most about collage is getting into an effortless “flow,” but there is something to be said about having to dig deeper to pull the solution from a more difficult effort. In those situations, a different kind of fulfillment is the reward — the sense that I have pushed by craft to a new level. It may not seem as joyful, but I feel just as fortunate to be involved in something I love to do. And it makes me stop and think that perhaps, when that easier process is flowing, it could be the exact moment to mix it up, take a risk, lose my footing, defy the comfort, and pay the price.

Bull’s-eye Nosegay ~ J A Dixon

Bull’s-eye Nosegay
mixed-media collage on framed panel
vintage target from L T Holmes
17 x 17 inches

Pearental Discretion

February 4th, 2015

“When people think about creativity, they think about artistic work — unbridled, unguided effort that leads to beautiful effect. But if you look deeper, you’ll find that some of the most inspiring art forms, such as haikus, sonatas, and religious paintings, are fraught with constraints. They are beautiful because creativity triumphed over the ‘rules.’ Constraints shape and focus problems and provide clear challenges to overcome. Creativity thrives best when constrained.”
— Marissa Ann Mayer

I have been intrigued by the recent work of participants in the Matchbook Collage Collaboration Project. Collage artists, whether working alone or in collaboration, are increasingly known for imposed restrictions — time, scale, format, or ingredients. Early on I gained a healthy respect for the power of parameters, most likely because I was educated as a designer and trained as an applied artist. Years later, this respect was amplified significantly when I witnessed my nephew create thousands of 101-word stories as an exercise in creative writing.

A big part of managing open-ended potential when initiating new work is to dig for an “inner assignment” that limits the options and sparks a creative impulse. Another good catalyst is to look around for an external constraint. I enjoy reacting to calls-to-artists that focus on an organizing concept. Even if I don’t actually apply, the triggered intuitive process can be informative. Here is a piece that I just finished in response to the exhibition theme of “Home.” In addition to framing the possibilities, it provided an opportunity for me to work more three-dimensionally, explore color scheme limitations, and further investigate the combining of found materials.
 

Pearental Discretion ~ John Andrew Dixon

Pearental Discretion
mixed-media artifact by J A Dixon
11.25 x 9.25 inches
available for purchase

According to Matthew

January 31st, 2015

 
According to Matthew ~ J A Dixon

According to Matthew
collage miniature on Bristol by J A Dixon
homage to Matthew Rose
collection of The Ontological Museum

Windows of Opportunity

January 24th, 2015

 
Windows Of Opportunity ~ collage miniature by John Andrew Dixon

Windows of Opportunity
collage miniature for mail art by J A Dixon
4 x 5 inches
collection of N G Armstrong

More than a dalliance this time . . .

January 21st, 2015

“The best part about mail art is that you don’t have to be there in person to be in on the action.”
— Anna Banana

First of all, I must admit I do not know all that much about the practice of “postal art.” Although I have mailed thousands of gift art items over the decades (usually disguised as greeting cards), I have never considered myself a “mail art” enthusiast, having had only indirect contact with the popular activity. I am aware that Ray Johnson was a seminal force in the phenomena, and that many think he envisioned the virtual community long before today’s online social networks took hold. Blogsites such as Jennie Hinchcliff’s exuberant every day should be a red letter day have enabled me to experience an enthusiasm for the genre in a vicarious way. For those who create collage, the art form has overlapped with collaboration to some degree, with the essential exchange of creations taking place. Like many artists, I have some major problems with the “art world” as an entrenched, elitist institution, but, because I have no philosophical bias against the idea of an “art marketplace,” the correspondence art movement never has had much of a grip on my sentiments or available time. Nevertheless, I strongly identify with the inclusiveness and magnanimity at the heart of the practice.

I am not entirely sure why I responded to a recent mail art proposition from Nancy Gene Armstrong, but I had taken note of her work for the first time last year and the appeal of having an example of it arrive for me in the mail was undeniable. It came as a vertical design, nearly 26 inches tall, that unfolded in a paced, rolling presentation. Below are two exquisite details from her generous offering.
 

mail art detail ~ Nancy Gene Armstrong

 

mail art detail ~ Nancy Gene Armstrong

two mail art details
collage by N G Armstrong
collection of J A Dixon

A universal antidote . . .

January 17th, 2015

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it
acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is
the greatest art of all.”
— Ray Bradbury

I was honored, but also thrilled, to accept my third invitation for the “New Year New Art” exhibition at our local Community Arts Center, one of the outstanding cultural institutions in Central Kentucky. The extraordinary thing about this annual show is a freedom to display, The Barretts ~ a portrait by John Andrew Dixonwithout juried appraisal, one or two pieces for which one has passion. The only restriction is that the work not be over four months old. I decided to create something around the holidays specifically for the opportunity, and, because I had just completed a difficult portrait commission in watercolor and pencil, a more personal form of expression was a welcome idea. I had used an illustrative, “news-magazine-cover” style that always has had great appeal to me, but that over the years has challenged my self confidence and repeatedly has put my perfectionist tendencies to a stress test. Fortunately, I have discovered a universal antidote for all that — collage.

For the January exhibition I wanted to do something fresh, to surprise myself, but also, as most artists prefer, to create something that would please others, that would excite an individual’s subjective response. Mixed-media collage is a medium that people find both provocative and delightful, and to which I am strongly committed, but that should be no surprise to anyone who follows this site. As a working designer and graphic artist, I return to collage on a nearly daily basis as fuel for my creative life and a potent solvent for that side of myself which continually flirts with self doubt if something might not turn out exactly as I imagine it should. All that nonsense fades away when I incite the spontaneity of this magnificent medium.

Of course, I remain captivated by the ability to make something of value from material that otherwise would be thrown away or recycled. I enjoy creating artwork that has bold visual appeal from across a room, but that also provides a depth of interest at close observation, with many stimulating details within an intimate viewing distance. “Matthew’s Touchonic Lodge” is primarily an abstract composition, and I salute two collage artists whose work I admire with my title and embedded allusions. “Apparition Rising” uses ingredients that are more whimsical, but perhaps slightly “spooky” at the same time. A phrase from a song that I like sparked the genesis of its assembly. Both are significantly larger than my typical miniature, more dimensional than a standard flat surface, and, as with all my designs, I worked intuitively with color, contrast, and the activation of space. In addition, I continue to push the effect of collage as a stand-alone treatment that does not demand the protective glass barrier. Please let me know what you think of these new works.
 

Dixon_TouchonicLodge

Matthew’s Touchonic Lodge
mixed-media collage by J A Dixon
22.5 x 20 inches, December 2014
title source: homage to artists M Rose and C Touchon

Dixon_ApparitionRising

Apparition Rising
mixed-media collage by J A Dixon
19.5 x 27.5 inches, December 2014
title source: from the song “Ghost Town” by J Brasfield

Is there no help?

January 11th, 2015

With due respect to Francisco de Goya y Lucientes ~ John Andrew Dixon

 

New Year, New Art!

January 6th, 2015

Opening reception: Thursday, January 8, 6–8pm
Community Arts Center, Downtown Danville, Kentucky
 
New Year, New Art ~ January 2 to February 20, 2015 

 

A Most Happy Happy!

January 1st, 2015

 

a New Year’s Day greeting from John Andrew Dixon

Untitled (thoughtform)
collage experiment by J A Dixon