Archive for the 'J A Dixon' Category

‘Outside/Inside’ is where it’s at!

Monday, January 30th, 2023

“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.”
– Edward Hopper
 

“Painting in papers” is my passion as I work in the studio to finish a season of outside starts while dreaming of springtime. There are many varieties of collage rooted in the history of art and craft. I do get lost in this particular one!
 
 

Six through ten — blog years (not dog years)

Sunday, January 1st, 2023

 
Unless you favor retrospective musings, I totally understand your wanting to skip this post. Reviewing the second half of what has become a ten-year blogsite is almost too intimidating in scope for me to synthesize with any coherence, so I’ll break the previous five years into a few sections. My early annual recaps offered evidence that I was entertaining some ambitious goals, although I should have discerned at the time that the “blogosphere’ was winding down as a popular online phenomenon. Given the recent head-spinning rate of networking change, it’s a period that seems nearly unrecognizable today. Even my mother had a blog for a spell. And so I shall begin with a salute to her profound influence.

The world without her remains a world full of Mombo.

This past month was dominated by the earthly departure of V E Dixon, my mother. The role she played in my becoming an artist and the approach I bring to my practice cannot, and should not, be understated in this format nor any other. What a debt I owe to her, and to pay it forward will require that I live as long as she! I might’ve started “giving back” much earlier, if it had been my basic nature. I can be a quick study for most things, but it often takes me far too long to learn the rest, especially when it involves stepping beyond my own creative urge. Her life was a lesson in putting others before self. In order to support her parents’ household in a world at war, she turned down a full scholarship to the same University of Cincinnati that I would eventually attend. Decades later, in a nest recently emptied of seven children, and just as she was about to explore her own personal interests, she followed her family to a remote part of a rural Kentucky county. As a widow, she built an ethical foundation for a land-based legacy that is now set to endure for generations. When she faced a grim medical prognosis that would break the spirit of others, she maintained a zest for life, an obvious concern for how it might affect others, and an astonishing diligence to push back against it. The world of my youth had shouted, “Be cynical, or pessimistic, or both,” but she would always be my reliable source of optimism, like a spring which never dries up. I could’ve become a quitter early on, but she helped me to overcome discouragement born of self-doubt and to fulfill commitments. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Why not always do your very best? And then you will automatically get better. Along with my siblings, everything was done to provide the care she needed to continue living at home, until it became no longer possible. Those years — what could be mistakenly judged as sacrificial — strengthened our family bond in a way that will last us for the duration. To separate that from my activity as an artist was unnecessary at the time and foolhardy in hindsight. Above and beyond the value of artisanship, she taught me that a creative life without love for others is devoid of meaning. Of all the souls I have intimately known, hers is the most worthy of imitation.

Landscape art tries to elbow aside my other styles of collage.

I’m thinking about a hot day in August and how I found in the distant, knobby horizon a stimulating prompt to create a collage outside. Staying in the sun to dry my glue offered no mercy, so I eventually moved to the shade. I came away with an impression to finish in the studio as part of my evolving landscape series called Litter-ally Kentucky. As I reflect on a now-familiar process, it would be difficult to remember all the unknowns I faced when I first took paper and paste on location, had I not recorded my experiences here in this format over the past five years. As a fine-art painter, I possessed a meager background at best and no knowledge of how to function in the open air. I knew a lot about manipulating paper, however, and was fortunate to have many friends who encouraged me to join group outings and to use a medium that has never been associated with creating representational art out of doors. As I’ve noted before, people often think my collage landscapes are traditional paintings, until they view them up close. I share their sense of wonder myself, and I eventually discovered other artists who were solving the same challenges. We happen to be few and far between. My collage landscapes began to attract some attention. I competed in timed plein-air events, had my first solo landscape exhibition, and received a feature in the UK-based Contemporary Collage Magazine. I was so comfortable with concentrating in this area of collage that I applied for and was awarded funding support from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Kentucky Arts Council. In case you want to follow my journey here, I’ve done my best to tell the story at The Collage Miniaturist. I still have no idea where this adventure will take me, but I invite you to stop back and find out!

Check out my top ten highlights . . .

Are you still with me, reader? If I continue to give my verbosity free reign, this overview will get out of hand. Instead, I’ll offer links to posts that cover some milestone artistic developments since the end of 2017. I could feature my handmade greeting cards, best-in-show award, gift art, or collage purgations, but I can see that much of that is significant only to me. I want to highlight things that might be worth your time, too. (The following sequence is not relevant for chronology or significance.)
 
• Adjudication by the Arts Council as an Kentucky Crafted artist sealed my inertia as a unabashed Merzologist, while I ventured deeper into an investigation of representational collage.
 
• A relationship with the Kentucky Artisan Center culminated in Synthesis, my most ambitious collage to date. I owe that and more to my friend Gwen, who was gone far too soon.
 
• My expanded foray into the genre of figurative collage resulted in a successful still life, praise from Professor Sheldon Tapley, and acceptance to ArtFields in Lake City, South Carolina.
 
• The Kanyer Art Collection provided opportunities for me and a growing worldwide community of collage artists, including a purchase award for one piece in my series of tiny diptychs.
 
• My participation in the Baker’s 1/2-Dozen Collage Exchange of Cecil Touchon’s IMCAC and the Februllage collage-a-day initiative sparked two new series of collage rituals.
 
• I gained greater world exposure when scholar Anna Kłos selected my miniatures for back-to-back international collage exhibitions at Retroavangarda Gallery in Warsaw, Poland.
 
• My footing as a Kentucky artist stabilized with the aid of Kate Savage and Arts Connect, including a solo show, video, podcast, and “Paint the Town” events in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
 
• An imagination as peculiar as mine could not have foreseen that my basement studio would be showcased in THE CUTTING CHAOS from Finland’s Niko Vartiainen. It’s all about the stash!
 
• I’ll never take for granted my valued regional connections with Maker’s Mark Distillery, LexArts, Art Center of the Bluegrass, Connie Beale’s CAMP, or Art Space Versailles.
 
• And finally — important rituals at the heart of being an artist continue to surprise me, whether it’s a 30-day studio explosion or my vital practice of working from nature outside.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 31st, 2022

 
Sparkle Someone Else ~ collage miniature by J A Dixon ~ a salute to the 70th birthday of Burton Cummings

Sparkle Someone Else
collage miniature by J A Dixon
7 x 8.25 inches

a salute to the 75th birthday of Burton Cummings

a boulder of sweetness, a boulder of sorrow . . .

Thursday, December 29th, 2022

“Tension between the best things that can happen and the worst things that can happen is where you and I find ourselves every day. That’s where you’ll find Jesus. Over and over again, he’s in that place between sweetness and sorrow — fruitfulness and barrenness.”
— Troy Brewer
 

Not too many people in the world receive a miniature collage landscape as a thank-you present for the holidays. I’m so grateful for this year-end commission. What a splendid gift — from my dear patron and for her recipient, too! Family loss, family gain. Funny how sweetness and sorrow get all blended together at this closing time of year.

 

Les Rochers du Long Lac
collage landscape by J A Dixon
6.5 x 6.8125 inches
0:100 site/studio
private collection

Reconciliation

Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

 

Reconciliation
collage / assemblage by J A Dixon
(paper, wood, metal, postcard, packaging, tea bag)
6.875 x 8.875 inches
available for purchase

and He was born for thee . . .

Sunday, December 25th, 2022

Beyond the trappings of any birthday,
each of us was born to serve a purpose.
 

Makin’ Christmas collage again!

Friday, December 23rd, 2022

 

LexArts 50th Anniversary Auction ends tonight!

Sunday, December 11th, 2022


 

These collector bottles want a home, but most of them would settle for the humble “man cave.” Auction closes at midnight tonight. A perfect gift for that eccentric Bourbon lover and a way to support the arts in Central Kentucky with a year-end donation. Opening bids are only $350.

Or you may want to grab my #008 version while you still can!
 

 

 

The Wild Why of a “Whisky Wall of Wonder” . . .

Monday, December 5th, 2022


 
 
 
@n online auction of collectible Maker’s Mark Art Bottles takes center stage, now that the “Whisky Wall of Wonder” has made its splash (last Saturday night during the 50th anniversary celebration of LexArts and the associated Horse Mania Auction at Keeneland). When the distillery teams up with the arts institution in a milestone dollar-raising concept connected to the legendary race track, I can’t help but be a “part of the action.” However, unlike when I created my only collage on bowling pin, the participating artists don’t get a “piece of the action” this go round. No exploitation here, folks. It’s a total, eyes-wide-open donation to observe the half-century mark and benefit the arts in Central Kentucky. It’s been no secret how I view the whole subject of periodic contributions of creative labor to nonprofit groups, in case you’re interested in linking through to that archive of opinionated posts.
 

It was stimulating to delve into collage solutions that had to take into consideration multiple viewing orientations — a worthwhile assignment for someone wrapped up in his two-dimensional practice. The experience also triggered recollections and inevitable allusions to the “Mark of Great Art” pieces that were made for my 2008 collaboration. Who knows what became of them after they ended up in Europe? Who knows what will become of these peculiar bottles? May they bring joy and perhaps a bit of amusement to those who take stewardship!

The online auction destination accepts bids until midnight, 12/11/22.

Whether or not one is vying to secure an original artifact full of private select whisky, it’s fun to take a peek at some of the current bids!

Our “En Plein Air” show in Danville

Monday, August 22nd, 2022

“And yet, standing at his appointed place, the trunk of the tree, he does nothing other than gather and pass on what comes to him from the depths. He neither serves nor rules — he transmits. His position is humble. And the beauty at the crown is not his own. He is merely a channel.”
— Paul Klee
 

Another anticipated En Plein Air annual exhibition has appeared and vanished, my sixth consecutive participation since I took up the challenge of “painting in papers” with the PAACK. My sincere thanks to Art Center of the Bluegrass for continuing to support our regional group!

The two miniatures that I included in the show are featured here. Completing both of them in the studio raised some concerns that I’d be able to retain my on-site impression as I made detailed additions too delicate for outdoor work. Did I manage to do it?

 

East End Survivor
collage miniature by J A Dixon
6 x 7.125 inches, framed 11 x 14
available for purchase

 

Gardener’s Nook
collage miniature by J A Dixon
6.25 x 7.25 inches, framed 11 x 14
available for purchase

Eleventh Chapter — Paint old Lex in papers . . .

Saturday, July 2nd, 2022

“If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.”
– Edward Hopper
 

Here’s my collage en plein air for this summer’s annual “Paint the Town” challenge (organized by Kate Savage of Lexington’s Arts Connect). Hours never evaporate so alarmingly fast as during this event. It had to be delivered framed and ready for immediate display within the six-hour deadline. The piece looks a bit unfinished to my eye, and probably will until an image wrapped in expectations has faded from my head. My insane trackside rig (located across from the Lawrence Brewer & Son Horse Oats warehouse) drew the attention of a railroad inspector, but, thankfully, I was left uninterrupted.

Do you think I should’ve brought along the kitchen sink, too?

 

Oathouse
collage en plein air by J A Dixon
100% / 0% — site to studio
10 x 10 inches + handcrafted frame
available for purchase at CAMP