Archive for the 'L T Holmes' Category

Much more about JUXTAPOSE . . .

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Friend and fellow collage artist Kathleen O’Brien is in the midst of her countdown to a big solo show in April. She asked me to do a favor and share a guest review as part of her final promotions for JUXTAPOSE before Drawn to the Earth requires her full concentration. As excited as I am about the group exhibition in Danville, it was a tougher post to write than I first anticipated. Collage is not the easiest art form on which to expound, perhaps because it relies on the “logic” of irrational choices.

At any rate, my dedicating a blogsite to that very topic was nobody else’s idea, so I best not complain to those of you kind enough to visit here. Would I rather be making art? Of course. Even so, I cannot constrain my enthusiasm for all things collage. Here’s my take on a great show. Be forewarned: If you’re looking for some criticism, you won’t find it!

 

I’ll admit it. I can’t get enough of JUXTAPOSE. The current exhibition of collage and assemblage is at the Community Arts Center until April 2nd. That’s not exactly the most humble thing to say, considering it features a dozen works by yours truly, so I won’t pretend that I can offer an unbiased review. Program director Brandon Long has organized a finely curated, must-see destination that brings together over a thousand examples of the two associated mediums (literally, but I’ll explain that in a moment). This is an unprecedented group show for the Bluegrass-based artists involved, and I am thrilled to be exhibiting side-by-side with Kathleen O’Brien, Teri Dryden, Robert Hugh Hunt, Meg Higgins, Connie Beale, Cynthia Carr, and many others. No doubt my enthusiasm has something to do with its location less than a city block from my studio, which bestows the luxury of repeated immersions, and there is over a month left in the duration!

There are more participants than I can profile individually, and far too many artworks to highlight. The best example of this is a room devoted to three complete year-long series of collage-a-day works by O’Brien, Long, and Nan Martindale. Combined with almost one hundred seventy of Robert Hugh Hunt’s provocative collage collaborations, the magnitude of miniature artworks presented in a single space could be overwhelming. As an exhibition designer, Long uses geometric grids, browsing boxes, and two flat-screen displays to make the huge collection comprehensible for viewers. O’Brien’s sensitive, meticulously layered collection of daily two-sided postcards is a journey to which I surrender with pleasure each time I visit, but only after a jolting romp through Hunt’s rarely exhibited Hillbilly Voodoo series with T R Flowers.

An opportunity to view works by six outstanding Louisville-based artists is worth the trip to Danville. Several major works by Meg Higgins captured my first impression. Two enormous pieces composed with transparent elements sandwiched between Plexiglas are suspended between the vestibule and grand gallery. I was equally impressed by a smaller collage on wood panel, Japanese Peony Goes to Italy, with its exquisite East-West flavor. Brad Devlin’s solid but clever exploitation of found objects yields bold abstractions that simultaneously maintain a strong environmental essence. His Open Sunday is also physically more complex than it first appears, and this allows the artisanship of his assemblage to become a secondary experience deserving of scrutiny. Masters of juxtaposition who reinforce the theme of the exhibition as well as anyone taking part, Patrick Donley, Lisa Austin and Brandon Bass each define a distinctive individual style. Approach to composition, color considerations, and a playful choice of ingredients form undercurrents that tie their pieces together, and Long knows how to modulate the walls in a way that makes groupings of their work satisfying to study. Although she has recently gained attention for her paintings, there are at least seven panels by Teri Dryden from a handsome body of work created from discarded books. Her Monteith’s Marrakesh exemplifies how her investigation successfully transcended the source material. Personally, I hope she rotates to collage again for another dynamic round of re-purposing cast-off items.

detail from Reliquia ~ collage on framed panel by John A. DixonIn addition to displaying a pair of shadow boxes, my only surrealist assemblage, and six favorite collage miniatures, JUXTAPOSE provides an opportunity to exhibit Bull’s-eye Nosegay for the first time, which I created for the Target Practice Project initiated by L T Holmes. Also, I did two larger collage artworks especially for this show. Each makes more than a fleeting nod to artists who I admire. What is it about Cherry Balm that causes me to think I just might be “tipping my beret” to the inimitable Matthew Rose? Reliquia is my tribute to the late Fred Otnes, a giant within the medium who has been a force in my consciousness since adolescence. Pearallelograms was held over from the previous exhibition at the institution, but the crowning delight for me may well be the presence of Kentucky Madonna, last year’s “finish” by Robert Hugh Hunt to my “start.” The collaborative piece is a companion to one currently hanging with the IT TAKES TWO exhibition of collaborations at the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea. Robert and I can’t ask for more than to know that both are now available for public observation (unless someone wants to give them a good home).

I am no art historian, but I can’t help but be mindful of the pioneering artists who laid a hundred-year foundation for the sweeping diversity of this exhibition. The creative innovations of Picasso, Braque, Duchamp, Schwitters, Höch, Cornell, Johnson, and Kolář reverberate throughout the building. In many respects, all contemporary collage/assemblage is a tacit homage to these seminal influences, but that is never the only thing at work nor the only phenomena to be perceived when one indulges an exhibition of this scope. Most artists are striving for a personal means of expression informed by those who have made their enduring mark on a medium. I am convinced, more than ever, that what distinguishes contemporary collage/assemblage artists is their keen connection to the mundane “stuff” of culture and the inner need to bring a measure of order and harmony from the sheer volume of material produced by our throw-away society, with its chaotic effect on our sensibilities — to create value where none exists, or to find wonder, meaning, significance, and beauty where none can be expected.
 

Japanese Peony Goes to Italy ~ Meg Higgins, Louisville, Kentucky

Japanese Peony Goes to Italy
Meg Higgins
collage on wood panel

Open Sunday ~ B Devlin

Open Sunday
Brad Devlin
assemblage, found objects

Strength ~ P Donley

Strength
Patrick Donley
mixed-media on wood

Bird’s Eye View ~ L Austin

Bird’s Eye View
Lisa Austin
collage

Monteith’s Marrakesh ~ T Dryden

Monteith’s Marrakesh
Teri Dryden
collage from discarded books on panel

Cherry Balm ~ John Andrew Dixon, collage artist, Danville, Kentucky

Cherry Balm
John Andrew Dixon
collage on canvas
available for purchase

Reliquia ~ John Andrew Dixon, collage artist, Danville, Kentucky

Reliquia
John Andrew Dixon
collage on framed panel
available for purchase

All Things Collage: Year Three

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Jamie Wyeth said, “You have to love a medium to work in it.” I have developed such an enthusiasm for collage that I also have been writing about it for three years at this blogsite. Miniatures are at the heart of what I enjoy doing most. The remarks accumulating here center on my recognition that what I can bring to the practice evolves from an ongoing investigation of the small format. When I do create larger pieces, I would hope that they are informed by my study of tiny, intimate visual relationships. Increasingly, I am embedding the miniature collage into these sized-up artworks, exploring the contrasts of scale and persuading the observer to step in very close — to interact with the ingredients at the artist’s viewing distance.

Over the coming year, I plan to profile other collage artists who exalt the small, and to highlight some of the “categories” of collage that recently have sparked my interest.

What’s in store?
• Merz-meisters: the dedicated aestheticians
• Endurance of the surreal face in collage
• The exemplars of erotic minimalism
• Die-hard collaborators gone wild
And, of course, much more . . .

When I used to put too much on my plate at meal time, my “Mombo” would say, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” Perhaps there is an analogy to piling up my wish list for future entries, and I probably have made a few promises to readers that so far I have not kept. I shall do my best, and remind myself during year four that it’s not what one says about art that matters most.
 

Nancy Gene Armstrong
Who else recalls that nostalgia can be so surreal?

Laura Tringali Holmes
A diversity of approach — her singular sensibility.

Allan Bealy
This provocative soloist is a relentless collaborator.

Katrien De Blauwer
If you ever figure out how she does it, let me know.

Matthew Rose
He seriously does not take himself seriously. Seriously.

Collaboration in Collage, part 3

Tuesday, 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

Bull’s-eye Nosegay

Wednesday, 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, currently not for sale
featured at The Target Practice Project

The Other Doorway

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

“Art comes out of art, and you are just another stone in the wall.”
— Richard Serra

My “Partner In All Things” has outdone herself again. She prepared an outstanding dinner last night in celebration of our grandson’s 23rd birthday, including “game stew” with rabbit and venison, plus the tastiest cherry-raspberry pie ever.cherry-raspberry pie As for my part, I completed a collage miniature for him that took off on a phrase he said to me over a year ago while unraveling some difficult life choices. I am very proud of the young man, for many reasons having nothing to do with his being a great source of encouragement as I continue to create work that puzzles a majority of art buyers. Some time ago, L T Holmes introduced her online followers to the idea of producing a collage “under the influence” of a fellow artist. I admire her for elevating it to an exercise in perceptual focus. It is good to be mindful of influences, because they are not necessarily at a level of awareness. Today’s featured image is an example of how I have come to recognize the unconscious influence of peers after a work is finished. I am not sheepish about admitting it. Inviting the artistic strengths of others to rub off a bit is why we regularly partake of the excellence in our medium. The collage artworks of my friend Connie Beale, a retailer and accomplished interior designer, touch on the irrational aspects of environments and room-like enclosures with effects that are unsettling yet also whimsical. The prolific Eugenia Loli consistently captures the surreal potential of spatial contrasts and arresting juxtapositions. Perhaps a shade of both can be found in my grandson’s gift.
 

The Other Doorway ~ J A Dixon

The Other Doorway
collage miniature by J A Dixon
6.25 x 7.75 inches
collection of J M Strock, Jr

On reworking a “finished” piece . . .

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

“. . . the completion of a work is only ever an abandonment, a halt that can always be regarded as fortuitous in an evolution that might have been continued.”
— Paul Valéry

Whether one thinks of the anonymous medieval monk embellishing a pre-existing manuscript, of Leonardo da Vinci working on the surface of his older painting, or of George Lucas making alterations to the original Star Wars trilogy, there is a long and sometimes controversial history of “refining” creative works already accepted as finished. I remember reading about Asian masters who thought nothing of making additions to artworks created in earlier eras. Apparently some art historians believe that halos were added to religious masterpieces much later. Duchamp did not draw those whiskers on the actual Mona Lisa, but he might have, had he been able to get away with it. What has all this to do with collage? Perhaps our entire genre came into being with the essential hunch that worthwhile art could result from revising something in contrast to its original purpose or frame of reference.

There is a wide spectrum to consider, if the subject under discussion is “altered art.” We might be talking about anchoring the concept for a collage on a singular appropriated image or transforming a mundane object into a new work of art. (L T Holmes recently shared a multi-part, personal tour of her Don’t Get Jittery On Me.) Or we might be referring to the simple idea of returning to a work already deemed complete and “writing a final chapter” to improve it. Think long enough about this topic and you may ask yourself whether any artwork is ever really done. Going back to Leonardo and Lucas for a moment, both turn up from time to time in attributions that suggest they also may have altered a version of the Valéry quotation more pithy than the poet most likely ever expressed.

“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” — Paul Valéry
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” — Leonardo da Vinci
“A movie is never finished, only abandoned.” — George Lucas

Forgive me if all of this undue rambling merely serves as an opportunity to highlight two “finished” collage artworks that I recently chose to revisit. Both examples also illustrate the complications of visually comparing two images created with different digital devices. After writing about a corresponding issue last week, I have since discovered S Caswell-Pearce’s related words from an April entry at paper with a past. My images for Rhapsody with Fever Chills demonstrate the same scanner/camera differential, although the scan of the new version is a better rendition of the artwork’s strong complementary effects. (This piece is currently on display with the “Seeing Red” exhibit in the McKinney Conference Center at Kentucky’s Constitution Square Historic Site.) The digital documentation of a revised Broken Qualifications, having shared the original version previously at this site, became a bit more challenging the second time around, given the addition of three-dimensional ingredients. At any rate, neither piece had ever felt fully resolved, although I had no specific plans to “reopen the case” until I made a broader reassessment of my inventory. Did I enhance them, ruin them, or just squander my time? You be the judge.
 

Rhapsody with Fever Chills
collage on paper by J A Dixon
7.5 x 10 inches, available for purchase

Broken Qualifications
collage/assemblage by J A Dixon
6 x 8 inches, available for purchase

Collaboration in Collage, part 2

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

“There has been an increased attention on collaborative practice in the arts in recent times with a perceived increase in artists working in groups or partnerships. For many other artistic enterprises, collaboration is the norm. Musicians form together into ensembles and bands; actors, writers and directors necessarily work in companies; and dancers, choreographers and musicians work in companies too, or in troupes. But for the visual arts the history of collaboration is less dominant, but perhaps, on the rise.”
— Kent Wilson, from the Central Highlands ArtsAtlas

The Target Practice Project is certainly taking on a life of its own. L T Holmes has established a new blogsite and yesterday she kindly featured me as a “guest blogger.” Thank you, Laura, for your generous spirit.

Several of my entries over the past weeks have illustrated thematic collaborations. How many other kinds are there at play in the contemporary collage scene? Please indulge me as I continue to count the ways.

There have been remarkable long-term projects such as Liz Cohn’s Playing with a Full Deck. The playing card format seems to be a perpetual stimulus to interesting collaborations in collage. And then there is always the creative teamwork that simply results from a meeting of improvisational minds. One artist will originate a piece and a partner will complete it. Sometimes the process works in both directions at once. In other cases, a collaborator will select ingredients in order that a fellow “chef” may prepare a delicious “entrée.” Zach Collins has devoted much of a Tumblr site to his prolific joint ventures. Musta Fior is internationally known for his many visual co-conspiracies. Below are representative products of collaboration in the medium that have recently caught the eye of The Collage Miniaturist.

Long have I been convinced that musicians had it all over visual artists when it came to the collaborative urge, but countless exponents of contemporary collage are helping to revise that perception. Ladies and gentlemen, keep jammin’ away!
 

“Playing with a Full Deck” exhibit
altered playing card collaborations
Gallery 6 PDX, 2013

4646
collage collaboration
F Free + J Gall, date unknown

(start and finish, title unknown)
collage collaboration
start by A Bealy, finish by Z Collins, 2013

(title unknown)
altered playing card collaboration
start by G Stadler, finish by Z Collins, 2013

deception
collage collaboration
(©2013 Flore Kunst/Aaron Beebe)

Cute commando 5
altered playing card collaboration
(©2013 Flore Kunst/Musta Fior)

(title unknown)
altered playing card collaboration
M Fior + + L J Miller-Giera, 2013

Ragbrai
altered playing card collaboration
T Tollefson + L J Miller-Giera, 2013

A Dreadful Idea
altered playing card collaboration
L T Holmes + C Chocron, 2013

Bigger Than That
altered playing card collaboration
T R Flowers + L T Holmes, 2013

Channel Crossing
collage collaboration
start by J Ratouin-Lefèvre, finish by D Daughters, 2013

24.2
collage collaboration
D Daughters + I Reitemeyer, 2013

Theme and Variation in Collage, part 3

Friday, September 27th, 2013

“To me I think artists in general make a statement — and for the rest of their lives — every album, every book — are variations on a theme.”
— Mark Mothersbaugh

Here are two examples of my ongoing participation in groups that collaborate through thematic emphasis. Gentle Zephyr is a response to the theme of “music” at the Collage facebook page, but I also made obvious reference to the previous album, “atomic bombs.” Tir de Duc is my second submission to the Target Practice project initiated by L T Holmes. The exciting collaboration that makes use of vintage paper targets has taken on a new significance in recent weeks. Collage artists could spend all their available time interacting with each other through the many active collaborative formats. It is important to find the proper balance between solitary investigation and the dynamic cross-fertilization taking place within contemporary collage.
 

Gentle Zephyr
collage miniature by J A Dixon
6.625 x 9.25 inches

•  S O L D

Tir de Duc
collage miniature by J A Dixon
vintage target from L T Holmes
8 x 10 inches
 
Purchase this artwork!

Theme and Variation in Collage, part 2

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

“But now I had these targets, and something grand in me wanted to make the two divergent threads — one of my artwork, one of my father — intertwine.”
— Laura Tringali Holmes

An increasingly engaging form of collaboration in collage is the coming together of a diverse group to explore the shared concept. In my last post we looked at an example in which the participants artistically exploited an image or thematic suggestion. Today we feature a remarkable project launched by L T Holmes that makes use of nearly identical vintage paper targets she has magnanimously provided to those taking part. Anyone reading this is urged to investigate her recent blog entry that offers an affecting backstory for the “Target Practice” initiative.

As this outstanding series takes shape, I cannot help but think of the Merz painting, “Hitler Gang,” and how KS (as usual) was just a bit ahead of us. If he thought a target was a cool collage ingredient nearly 70 years ago, I am, for one, quite content to continue digging the ground he broke. At least we are not fearing for our personal safety, thank heaven.
 

Friday, 1963
collage miniature by J A Dixon
vintage target from L T Holmes
6 x 7 inches
 
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Maximalism and Minimalism in Collage, part 4

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

“I’m not an art reviewer, nor am I a psychiatrist, but I’ve often thought that Katrien De Blauwer’s special talent is her ability to speak to and for the collective unconscious of human emotions.”
— Laura Tringali Holmes

I regularly walk to a nearby college natatorium to swim laps. To my periodic astonishment, I will get an idea for a collage while staring at the bottom of a pool. My mind apparently stays cluttered with images of unused ingredients, and I suppose they demand to be composed, even when I am absent from my studio. As I travel to and from the destination, no scrap of litter escapes my attention (an occupational practice for many collage artists). Recently, when I discovered a wadded-up candy or bubble-gum wrapper that looked to me like a tiny, mashed bird (or was it a disfigured fleur-de-lis?), I knew I had to find a place for it, but I preferred that it not get lost in a “maximalist” design. So I encouraged myself to produce a collage with a minimal of elements. This is not my typical style, but I visually partake daily of numerous examples by peers who excel at this technique, if one can call it that. Thankfully, a bit of their approach may have rubbed off. Laura Tringali Holmes has taken it another step by accepting the challenge of creating a collage under the influence of a particular fellow artist. Laura often leans in the direction of maximalism, as do I, and her skillful homage to Katrien De Blauwer, a master of minimalism, is worth a visit to her site. As you may know, I am keen on the cross-fertilization of solid influences. I am not ashamed to say that both of these collage artists are among my favorite sources of rich visual pollen. Watch for a profile of each in future entries here.
 

Fear of Failure
collage miniature by J A Dixon
4.75 x 6.375 inches
 
Purchase this artwork!

All Things Collage: Year One

Friday, July 12th, 2013

“Any fool can carry on, but only the wise man knows how to shorten sail.”
— Joseph Conrad

Looking back on a full year as a blogger, many of my initial objectives have been met, but there are even more subjects to tackle in the coming months. Can I find the right balance between words and images, welcoming others to act as better scribes for what is happening in collage and remembering that I would rather be holding a pair of scissors than typing at a keyboard? The exceptional print quarterly out of Canada, Kolaj, has also celebrated its first birthday. 2012 was the perfect year to salute a century of collage as a modern art and also to look around, assessing the current maturity of the practice. I still have much to say about the pioneers and exemplars — Gris, Schwitters, Hausmann, Höch, Cornell, Hamilton, Johnson — for there is much to observe and absorb about their seminal talismans and bodies of work.

It is equally important to evaluate more of the leading and emerging artists now actively producing what may be known as “post-centennial collage,” perhaps the most vital period of cross-pollinated output in the medium’s history. Where to focus next? Those who magnify the traditions of Dada, Surrealism, Fluxus, or Layerism? Dedicated collage abstractionists such as Touchon, Dryden, Romoff, or Gordon? Masters of the outer reaches of a Maximalist/Minimalist spectrum such as Kroll, Reitemeyer, or De Blauwer? I have for some time lamented the lack of a visual-arts phenomenon equivalent to how musicians have traditionally improvised together, but my recent awareness of dynamic collaborations between collage artists is forcing me to change my mind. Is it time for me to take a closer look at the creative fusions instigated by Collins, Holmes, Daughters, or Wilkin?

My, my . . . have we just laid out another year or more of entries? And I have not yet “scraped the working surface” of all the collage artists who make the contemporary scene so exciting. Do I possess the necessary wisdom to tame my ambitions and “shorten sail?” My mind rebels at the idea that I cannot be an artist and a writer, too. I am no scholar, and some art historians would scoff at my correlations, but I cling to the notion that there is a place for insights about our medium that can come only from a person who faces the same challenges as my working peers when confronting a pile of scrap.

One more thought: As the digital age sweeps over the planet, is there also taking place a not-so-quiet backlash against the erosion of manual dexterity? If so, is there a more compelling counter-trend example than the current explosion of tearing, cutting, assembling, transferring, and pasting? And beyond the familiar “analog” technique, what can be said about the deep influence of visual collage on the preponderance of montage in all things sensory — music, performance, film, and media design? This site can become a place where all of this is explored, discussed, shared, and challenged. Much of that is up to you, valued reader. Meanwhile, I shall continue to see, write, and make more art. Stop by again, soon!
 

Every Instinct of My Being Rebels
collage miniature by J A Dixon
7 x 5 inches
 
Purchase this artwork!