Archive for the 'Z Collins' Category

DADA CENTENNIAL Day of the Dead

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

It is with high anticipation that I await my first look at the new publication which documents the Dada Centennial exhibition organized by the Ontological Museum. My sincere thanks to Cecil Touchon for including the essay that I wrote last yearOn Kurt Schwitters and a Century of Dada — but, most of all, for volunteering so much of his time to this historic observation and to the ongoing administration of the institution he founded, now located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The exhibition at the archives of the International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction opened on November 4, 2016 and lasted through January 31, 2017. A worldwide array of Dada-inspired artists sent artworks for the show that will be added to the permanent collection. They are all displayed in the full-color, 275-page catalog that is available for purchase. A “Merz Painting” by Peter Dowker is featured on the cover. In addition to my essay, the publication has an introduction by Touchon, another essay by Drager Meurtant, Birth of Merz by Schwitters, original verse by Dada artists, writings by Hugo Ball, three of my experimental miniatures, and collage art by some whose work I have spotlighted here at TCM, including Dowker, Hope Kroll, Zach Collins, Nikki Soppelsa, Erin Case, Joel Lambeth, Melinda Tidwell, Evan Clayton Horback, and Katrien De Blauwer.

When I experienced the milestone Schwitters exhibition at the Berkeley Museum of Art in 2011, I failed to bring home the forty-dollar catalog. When I got back to Kentucky, I discovered that the compendium was already worth $200. I do not know what long-term plan the Ontological Museum has for this publication, but it may not always be available. Go online, take advantage of the current discount, and buy it now.
Grateful Ode to Merz ~ John Andrew Dixon

Grateful Ode to Merz
collage miniature on Bristol by J A Dixon
homage to Kurt Schwitters
collection of The Ontological Museum

Core Memories

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

“Before I can discard the verse, I have to write it… I can’t discard a verse before it is written because it is the writing of the verse that produces whatever delights or interests or facets that are going to catch the light. The cutting of the gem has to be finished before you can see whether it shines.”
– Leonard Cohen

I admire many of the more prolific collage artists — Kroll, Rose, Bealy, Tidwell, Flowers, Collins, to name only a few — but there can be a significant contrast between “work ethic” and the contrived productivity made trendy by social networking. It was interesting when Plowman was climbing the mountain of “Collage A Day.” Now one has to pass the corpses being stacked beside the route up the peak. Most of us can tell the difference between a display of ongoing professionalism and the indiscriminate output of those with a high need for public approval. That being said, someone who is a blogger on “all things collage” might carelessly tread into the latter while neglecting the former. If I do, or if this site lapses into pretension, I challenge you to call me on it. Please. Nevertheless, we should all keep in mind that the nature of the medium invites the floating of one’s work for an appropriate give-and-take interaction. Offering intuition and spontaneity free rein means that often we can be too close to the culminating artifact to perceive many of the symbolic connections or nuanced associations, and that takes feedback. It may take other sets of eyes to tell us whether the gem sparkles or not. Our handy interweb makes it easy to lavish “likes” on one another in lieu of the genuine constructive criticism we require to fortify our studio rituals. Are we finally ready to move past mutual thumbs-upping and to become more candid with each other?

Core Memories ~ collage miniature by John Andrew Dixon

Core Memories
collage miniature by J A Dixon
4.875 x 7 inches
 
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Ninety Naughty Gnats

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

“A special thank you to Helen Reiss, who brought me this crazy manuscript and thought I might like to illustrate it. I had a better idea!”
– Allan Bealy
 

I am pleased to share an announcement from Allan Bealy that his newest publication is available— ABCurdities: A Collage Alphabet, and it is an honor to be part of an outstanding group that includes Allan, Matthew Rose, Ted Tollefson, Nikki Soppelsa, Zach Collins, Marc Deb, Fred Voigt, Musta Fior, Michael Tunk, and many other fine collage practitioners. Allan assigned 26 collage artists from around the world a letter of the alphabet and asked each of us to interpret a corresponding absurdist poem by Helen Reiss. The delightful result is now available for online purchase!

Helen’s wild verse for “N” offered a wealth of associations and challenged me to illustrate the perfect level of “visual naughtiness.” I also wanted to embed the letterform, but not in a way that would be too obvious. Do you see it? Some may not. I find it fascinating to observe how each of us used her poems as a catalyst for creativity, while investigating an individual approach to the medium — one more example of how collaboration can enhance the artistic process. A tip o’ the cap to the designer/compiler!
 

N ~ John Andrew Dixon ~ a collage contribution to ABCurdities: ~ compiled by Allan Bealy

N
collage miniature by J A Dixon
a contribution to ABCurdities: A Collage Alphabet
8 x 8 inches

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

On Nostalgia in Collage

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

“ . . . what I am hoping to do is discover if it is possible to separate nostalgia and collage art, or determine whether the two are inextricably entwined.”
— Joel Lambeth

In a blog entry last month, collage artist Joel Lambeth asked the challenging question, “Is collage inherently nostalgic?” It is one of the more provocative pieces about our medium that I have read this year, although a bit wordy in places. Admittedly, most working collage artists like us who maintain blogs that purport to be more than an online portfolio are not the finest writers alive, and I salute him for not choosing to approach the topic in a superficial way. Nevertheless, it is always risky to generalize about anything, but Lambeth cuts deeply into the subject to probe the history and heart of collage as an art form, and he manages to avoid a semantic discourse on the definition of the word “nostalgia.” His thoughtful viewpoints have sparked a desire on my part to weigh in (with what also may prove to be an entry more verbose than usual).

The groundbreaker Max Ernst worked with vintage engravings, perhaps to emphasize his anti-traditionalist intentions.a Joseph Cornell aviary assemblage He influenced Joseph Cornell, who captured feelings of personal nostalgia with innovative effects that were as cutting-edge as they were fixated on musings about the past. When analyzing collage artwork with respect to the idea of nostalgia, we must take into consideration the artist’s motivation in addition to the overall character of the medium. When I look at current examples from the daily waves of creative output, it is clear that nostalgia in collage plays out along a spectrum or continuum like nearly every other feature of the process, whether it be minimalism/maximalism, realism/surrealism, or representation/abstraction.

It is surprising to me how many contemporary collage artists work exclusively with old ingredients, but that does not mean necessarily that their agenda is merely to traffic in sentimentality. Sara Caswell-Pearce and Nancy Gene Armstrong are among those who appear to harness nostalgia as a conscious objective in their work while achieving a broad balance of artistic creativity. Many collage artists, such as Carolina Chocron, Nikki Soppelsa, Ross Carron, Fred Litch, Laura Collins, and Frank Voigt are more apt to generate nostalgic tones as a byproduct of incorporating vintage ingredients into strong compositions. Only these individuals could clarify to what degree they actively try to convey impressions of an era gone by. The versatile Zach Collins and Randel Plowman, although they frequently work with obviously old paper, both seem to be engaged in ongoing visual investigations more primary than any sense of nostalgia embedded in their finished works.

Lambeth compares the nostalgic impulse to the process of collage itself and concludes by suggesting “that at a very base level collage and nostalgia have more in common than they do separating them.” He acknowledges the contemporary effort to transcend the inherent bias that the medium may have toward nostalgia. Perhaps he, Marc Deb, Launa Romoff, Andrew Lundwall, Teri Dryden, and numerous other artists are making the push beyond any fundamental nostalgic essence. If so, collage, after more than a hundred years, is cycling back to its roots, when Kurt Schwitters, who always considered himself a painter, became convinced that the pasted detritus of his environment was equally as legitimate as a brushstroke of oily pigment.
 

Midnight Gambol: Or Why The Bees Slept In Every Morning
mixed-media collage by Sara Caswell-Pearce

A Boy and a Swan
collage by Nancy Gene Armstrong

descosiendo el cuadrilátero
collage by Carolina Chocron

Napoleon shows his hand
collage by Nikki Soppelsa

untitled
collage by Fred Litch

Nubecula Cum Ovi
collage by Ross Carron

Jump
collage by Laura Collins

untitled
collage by Fred Voigt

141zc14
collage on wood panel by Zach Collins

August Night
collage by Randel Plowman

Ripping It Up
collage by Joel Lambeth

Imperfect Parallels
collage by Marc Deb

the parrot (detail)
mixed-media collage by Launa D Romoff

Substance
mixed-media collage by Andrew Lundwall

9 Lives
mixed-media collage by Teri Dryden

A Lively Coexistence

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

“Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.”
— Pablo Picasso

My passion seems to be split between collage as artifact (the artistic specimen) and collage as painting (the artistic surface). I revere the pioneering giants whose work must be carefully conserved, but also continue to be impressed and inspired by Cecil Touchon, Jon Measures, Robert Mars, Teri Dryden, Zach Collins, and other contemporary artists who successfully bring a painterly approach to our medium. In order to release a mixed-media collage from beneath the traditional glass barrier, it is necessary to find a proper protective coating to balance visual appeal and durability. Because I work with found material, I have had to learn what kinds of ingredients can handle direct exposure (for an effect similar to the painted surface). Some are too vulnerable and require framing behind glass. Both types of artwork are represented in my new solo exhibition, Ingredients Reclaimed. The example shown here, layered above the conventional canvas and stretcher, relies on wet-to-wet contact of adhesive and gesso to firmly seat the “scrap.” Using a series of light-touch applications, a coating of matte acrylic sealant tops off the piece.
 

A Lively Coexistence
collage on canvas by J A Dixon
11 x 14 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

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
 
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Two more tribute miniatures

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Some collage artworks spring spontaneously from a random juxtaposition, a mental picture, or the way various ingredients coalesce. Others are sparked by thoughts about an individual. The first example below was a tribute to Zach Collins, one of the more prolific American collage artists whose work is also consistently innovative. The second piece is dedicated to a couple of guys I know who both had birthdays this past week. One is a friend, and the other is family.
 

Blind the Mocking Eye
collage miniature by J A Dixon
5 x 5 inches
 
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Sufficient Alacrity
collage miniature by J A Dixon
4.875 x 6.875 inches
 
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