Archive for the 'Artists/Collage' Category

Wasn’t this spot in the shade?

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

“I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work.”
— Frank Lloyd Wright
 

After much too long a hiatus, I finally got back on location with the PAACK to resume my project to create collage en plein air. Setting out in the morning seemed like a “forced march,” including unwarranted worries that I’d forgotten something essential, but as soon as I got to the nearby Scott estate, I was at home scouting for a place to sit. The environment and hospitality were both exceptional. With the grounds in ideal shape, our hosts had offered many inviting points of view. Relying on my card with a square cutout, I fixated on a cluster of three outbuildings that would provide some desired depth (which I then proceeded to compress in space). I also was looking for a good opportunity to continue developing my technique for trees. I made a conscious effort to back off from a previous “fastidious” style and to evolve a looser method of “painting with paper.” I resisted concerns about the end result whenever I discerned that now-familiar tendency to tighten up. It was a solid, productive outing during the hottest chunk of a fine summer day.

An enjoyable discussion with the owner revealed the detail I would need for a fitting title. It was quite possible that the old, white-washed brick structure central to my composition had been the storehouse for a tannery in early Danville, one of the original pioneer settlements in Kentucky. The small piece turned out to be a 50%-50% location-to-studio allocation. This same time formula (which still allows for a legitimate plein-air designation) was applied to another miniature that I finished next, a scene that overlooked a spot on Main Street (here in downtown Danville). The artwork was something I’d commenced before a knee injury sidelined my plein-air activity last year. After a double session in the open, I’d always intended the piece to be a hundred-percent outside solution. I surrendered that idea and decided to pull it out of storage for a studio conclusion, in order to make the deadline for our annual group exhibition. In a future entry, I’ll delve into additional aspects of what I’m discovering about this process a few of the helpful techniques I’ve learned.

The 2019 En Plein Air show is currently on display until the end of August. An opening reception this Saturday evening coincides with a festive name-change event for the local arts venue — now to be identified as Art Center of the Bluegrass. The prominent facility in a former federal post office has always felt like a “home stadium” to me, ever since my first solo collage exhibition was held there, not long after the building was acquired and restored as a focal point for the arts. Long-time followers of this humble blogsite will know that it has surfaced regularly in the yearly roster. My best to everyone on deck at this institution, as you chart new waters for a valuable community resource.
 
 

Perhaps a Tannery
plein air collage miniature by J A Dixon
7 x 7.25 inches

•  S O L D

 

Across Main
plein air collage miniature by J A Dixon
7.875 x 9.125 inches
available for purchase

Therapeutic factionalism or personal catharsis?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

“Anger is a very limiting emotion. There’s not much you can do with it. There’s no hope in it.”
— Wendell Berry
 

There was a time when the arts may have held the capacity to alter the world around us. From time to time, music probably has. Perhaps the dramatic arts, too. The oral and written arts of language certainly have, and they remain highly consequential, but the notion that those engaged in artistic “visual statements” can affect society is an illusion. The early 20th-century avant-garde believed they could, and maybe they did, to some extent, while the attention of a less distracted elite was seized. At any rate, this innovative class took what they had absorbed, rejected much of it, and cultivated the vocabulary of the modern art forms which influence the bulk of what artists do today. And almost all of what we do now has very little if any catalytic effect on evolving civilization — especially if it was overtly intended to do just that. But make no mistake about it, “message art” has been, is, and can be a significant catharsis for creative individuals. Rest assured that it will reinforce solidarity among people of like mind. It can also be relied upon to irritate many of the others.
 

Taboo Faction
collage catharsis by J A Dixon
8.125 x 11.5 inches
available for purchase

An all-seeing eye is watching

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

“Mastering music is more than learning technical skills. Practicing is about quality, not quantity. Some days I practice for hours; other days it will be just a few minutes.”
— Yo-Yo Ma

Mombo gets a lot of junk mail — a ridiculous amount — but, at the age of 94, she is long past having any interest in it. When I care for her, the current stash provides scrap for compositional studies created while she rests.

We all need to practice something, don’t we?
 

Untitled (cyclopea)
collage experiment by J A Dixon
7.5 x 7.5 inches
not for sale

Spontaneity and adaptation

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

“I never plotted anything out. I don’t believe in storyboarding. I think you have a very dull-looking movie. You have to take advantage of the moment. I’m the kind of person that loves what we call the fog of war. That when things are going, and opportunities present themselves, you use them, you know, and there’s a fluidity that occurs that way. Now, I’ll go to all the locations. I know what I’m going to shoot, and where I’m going to shoot it, but I’m always ready to change. I’m always ready to adapt to the situation as it develops, and I think that there’s a certain organic quality that occurs then.”
— John Milius
 

The incomparable Milius was obviously talking about his approach to crafting a film, but I find his description entirely appropriate when discussing the art of collage. There must be a balance of careful research, discernment, and preparation — to set in readiness the potential ingredients — combined with a difficult-to-articulate sense of walking into the studio with absolutely no idea what will happen next, or how one might adjust the wheel to a different point on the compass. He puts it into words as well as anyone. If current movies — or any art form based on visual montage — look more contrived than ever, all the clues we need to know why are in that quotation.
 

Aggravated Dissent
collage on pasteboard by J A Dixon
7.5 x 11.5 inches
available for purchase

50 Years

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

It does seem like a very long time ago . . .

As We Knew It

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

 

As We Knew It
collage miniature on book cover by J A Dixon
5.5 x 8.5 inches
available for purchase

Collage Miniature Collaboration Number Seven

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

“Two halves don’t make a whole. Two wholes make a whole.”
— Jason Mras
 

Although I was not able to insert Kolaj Fest into my summer plans, I’m commiserating with the many collage artists who had their expectations disrupted by tropical storm Barry, including “virtual friends,” Allan Bealy, Janice McDonald, and Andrea Burgay.

As I think about them and the truncated event in New Orleans, it occurs to me that I never posted images of my 2018 collaboration with Bealy, when I joyfully participated in his HALVES project.

Leave it to Allan to explore yet another type of creative joint venture with a diverse group of partners. I knew from our previous collaboration that we could use the other’s stimuli to great benefit. After I received Allan’s starts, I waited until I’d sent him mine (this one with an Abyssinian cavy, and this one with roasting pans) before I finished my half of each lively “conversation.”

Like many of you, I’m astute enough to recognize that this guy is not only one of the most prolific and fluent practitioners within our medium, but also that he has continued to help shape the meaning of contemporary collage collaboration for our generation. I hope you’ll find these particular juxtapositions intriguing, and I look ahead with anticipation to seeing what he might do with the numerous artifacts that were generated by his stimulating concept.
 

Untitled (body language)
a collage miniature collaboration by J A Dixon and A Bealy
(start by Bealy, finish by Dixon)
part of the HALVES series

Untitled (a proper apricot)
a collage miniature collaboration by J A Dixon and A Bealy
(start by Bealy, finish by Dixon)
part of the HALVES series

MELD
a collage miniature collaboration by J A Dixon and A Bealy
(start by Dixon, finish by Bealy)
part of the HALVES series

MELD2
a collage miniature collaboration by J A Dixon and A Bealy
(start by Dixon, finish by Bealy)
part of the HALVES series

Crucify Them

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

 

Crucify Them
personal gift collage by J A Dixon
12 x 15 inches
private collection

Shobiz Comix

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

 

Shobiz Comix
collage miniature by J A Dixon
7.25 x 7.875 inches
 
Purchase this artwork.

Circadian Tortuga

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

“The sage
     dwells in affairs of nonaction,
     carries out a doctrine without words.
He lets the myriad of creatures rise up
     but does not instigate them;
He acts
     but does not presume;
He completes his work
     but does not dwell on it.
Now,
     Simply because he does not dwell on them,
          his accomplishments never leave him.”
— Lao Tzu
 

There are many outstanding collage artists who have a trademark “style,” and I can immediately identify a piece as theirs prior to confirmation. I have no idea if people familiar with contemporary collage recognize a work as mine before they see a signature or attribution. To have cultivated a personal “voice” as an artist, no matter what the genre, and to have dug deeply into a single plot rich with ore is a good thing, and I admire those who have done it. I suspect that the description doesn’t apply to me — although I honestly don’t know — and I’d leave a more objective evaluation to others. I could accept that I’m wandering a hundred-year-old frontier, sometimes venturing into lawless terrain, and, as often as not, frequenting the established settlements, helping myself to the comforts of civilization. Or perhaps I just took a job in the collage mine.

Do I ruminate on such things only because I’m blogging instead of working in the studio? It brings to mind Robert Hughes, who described the history of art as being “like the scramble for Africa.” He wrote that “a few pioneers stumble on unexploited territory and stake it out, often forgetting to register their claims. Then the dealers arrive, and the collectors, carving up the area, reducing it to mining ground, a tangle of jumped claims and abandoned shafts, patrolled by trigger-happy art historians.”

I get more new ideas than I can possibly explore. Sometimes, when I fill a page with them, it occurs to me that the time would be better spent actually working instead of creating thumbnail notes for addition to my “to-do” list. The daily habit of confronting a challenging workload is probably a better source of what to do next than an isolated mental concept. To work and not dwell on it, to rest and then resume work, is undoubtedly the more rewarding road to deeper accomplishment. One can tell the difference between an artistic “look” that was intellectually contrived and one that grew organically from a work ethic. It is much like the process of collage itself. Spontaneous visual juxtapositions that could not possibly have been preconceived are generally more interesting and memorable than those that were “thought up” and then executed.
 

Circadian Tortuga
collage on canvas by J A Dixon
22 x 16 inches
 
Purchase this artwork.

Second International Collage Art Exhibition

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

“One year ago, on 24th April, Retroavangarda Gallery held its opening exhibition in the modern office building complex Jerozolimskie Business Park in Warsaw. Since that day, many great artists and guests have visited the gallery. A big thank you to all artists and visitors!”
— Anna Kłos
 

I became aware of Dr Anna Kłos almost from the time she was instrumental in opening Warsaw’s Retroavangarda Gallery in 2018, which immediately hosted its first high-profile collage exhibition. As the gallery’s director, she used her evident social networking skills to quickly develop a strong presence on the worldwide stage of contemporary collage. I wasn’t nearly as impressed with this capability as with her curatorial acumen as a design historian and modern art scholar.

It was on this basis that I was profoundly gratified with her invitation to be a part of Retroavangarda’s second International Collage Art Exhibition to mark the institution’s first anniversary. It more than made my day when I was notified that all six of the works that I sent to Poland were selected for display and acceptance into the gallery’s permanent collection. With more than 200 works by 76 artists from around the world, Kłos organized the show under the honorary patronage of the Embassy of Argentina, the Embassy of Brazil, and the Embassy of Peru. The exhibition opened on April 4th, followed by a well-attended reception that included dignitaries from the three embassies. The show closes today, and jetting to Warsaw wasn’t possible for me, although I would have been thrilled to personally experience what was obviously a landmark compilation of exceptional collage artwork. The dynamic Anna, whose PhD dissertation was on Dadaist collage, is also a fine artist, lecturer, graphic design instructor at the Warsaw School of Information Technology, and curator of their WIT gallery.

It is a distinct privilege to be among the few North Americans selected to participate in one of the largest showcases of fine art collage ever held in Central Europe. Other artists from the USA with displayed work include Allan Bealy and Nikki Soppelsa, previously featured here, in addition to Angela Holland and Claire Dinsmore, both new to me. Please visit Anna’s facebook page and the Retroavangarda site to view images from the exhibition. Everyone interested in the art of collage will want to follow her ambitious activities in Poland.
 

 

 
 

 

 

The six collage miniatures exhibited at Retroavangarda Gallery were:
Blind the Mocking EyeFaded RecollectionsTruth Be ToldA Dirty FamilyA General AffairMyrmidons