Archive for the 'Collaboration' Category

Governor’s Derby Exhibit

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

“The Governor and I are pleased to continue this longstanding tradition of showcasing the finest in Kentucky art.”
– Glenna Bevin, Kentucky’s First Lady
 

Kentucky Sovereign ~ collage collaboration by R H Hunt and J A DixonOne of the most satisfying occurrences of the year so far was to learn that Kentucky Sovereign, my collage collaboration with Robert Hugh Hunt, had been accepted into the 2016 Governor’s Derby Exhibit. The two of us never dreamed that the piece would find its way to the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, but there we were, getting to meet the First Lady and explaining our unusual work of art. Hunt’s Mama’s Story also made the cut, the only “traditional” collage in the show (a black and white gem). Needless to say, to have any aspect of my creative life represented in this high-profile exhibition is a distinct pleasure, especially because it’s a part of the Kentucky Arts Council’s 50th Anniversary celebration. The exhibit lasts until May 7.

Robbo and I are already conspiring to initiate a second collaborative project. Visit here again to learn more about it!
 

Dixon_Hunt_Bevin_GDE

Robert Hugh Hunt and I explain our collage collaboration to Glenna Bevin.

Bailey_Bevin_Dixon_Hunt_GDE

From left— painter Brian Bailey, Kentucky’s First Lady, J A Dixon, and R H Hunt.

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

•  S O L D

Collaboration in Collage, part 4

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

“Connecting unexpected people, places, objects, and ideas provides a huge boost to your imagination. You can practice this skill by using provocative metaphors, interacting with those outside your normal circles, building on existing ideas, and finding inspiration in unlikely places.”
— Tina Seelig
 

As the international cross-pollination of collage artists advances into the new year, facebook.com continues to be a significant crossroads for active collaborators. The BINGO-card project of Terry Flowers is pushing the boundaries of imagination, and Kevin Brandtner’s enormous margarine-card initiative shows no sign of winding down. The Vienna-based artist came into the possession of about 1,000 small vintage images ideally suited to visual modification. They date from the 1950s and were clearly intended as promotional collectibles (“originally produced for advertising purposes by the margarine company ‘Sannella,’ picturing the adventures of various German men,” according to Brandtner). Under his facebook screen name, Geronimo Finn, he invited collage artists from around the world to accept three cards of his choosing and to collaborate with him by 1) providing a finish to one of his starts, 2) offering one start for him to finish, and 3) completing one solo collage. A book documenting all or many of the resulting artworks is an open possibility, but it is difficult for anyone to predict how long the project will last before “Geronimo” pulls the ripcord.

For the “finish,” I embedded an aesthetically integrated, but out-of-context, factory town-scape as subtle support for Kevin’s armed observer. By contrast, my “start” is a hyper-macabre parody of aboriginal stereotypes, and I look forward to his response. For the assigned solo treatment, I could not resist perpetuating the microscopic-creature-as-monster cliché.

 
A collage miniature collaboration by John Andrew Dixon and Kevin Brandtner (aka Geronimo Finn)

Untitled (Zebraville)
a collage collaboration by J A Dixon and K Brandtner
(card selection and start by Brandtner, finish by Dixon)
Sammelwerk Afrika, Bild 33: Zebras und Gnus her Tränke
13.6 x 9.7 centimeters

A collage miniature collaboration by John Andrew Dixon and Kevin Brandtner (aka Geronimo Finn)

Untitled (Baby Head Stew)
a collage collaboration by J A Dixon and K Brandtner
(card selection by Brandtner, start by J A Dixon, finish to come)
Sammelwerk Australien, Bild 79: Erdo fen der Maoris
13.7 x 9.8 centimeters

A collage miniature collaboration by John Andrew Dixon and Kevin Brandtner (aka Geronimo Finn)

Untitled (Mighty Mite)
a collage collaboration by J A Dixon and K Brandtner
(card selection by Brandtner, solo completion by Dixon)
Sammelwerk Australien, Bild 52: Auf dem Barriereriff
9.8 x 13.7 centimeters

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

Big No-No

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

“The purpose of this challenge is to have some fun, and to experience the challenge of finishing a collage that someone else has started. That someone else was me.”
– Terry R Flowers

I may be getting the hang of this shared-authorship thing. Veteran collaborator T R Flowers offered a spot to me in his bingo-card “zine” project, so I grabbed it. His prolific creations are characterized by wit and humor, so I pushed myself in that direction. Here is the original card. Here is Terry’s start that he sent to me. Stay tuned for a look at some of the other interesting contributions rolling in.
Big No-No ~ collage collaboration on bingo card by Terry Flowers and John Andrew Dixon

Big No-No
collage collaboration on bingo card
start by T R Flowers, finish by J A Dixon
4.5 x 5.625 inches

Pleased and honored . . .

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Well, just in case I have not made myself crystal clear — I am very pleased and honored to be represented in this exhibition with my “co-conspirator” Robert Hugh Hunt. I trust there is plenty of time for a lot of people to see what is shaping up to be a distinctive show. Perhaps that includes you!

John Andrew Dixon ~ It Takes Two ~ Collaborations by Kentucky Artisans ~ Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea ~ September 19, 2015 to February 27, 2016

A Kentucky Collaboration

Monday, August 24th, 2015

“I’ve collaborated with many artists over the years but never on a project of this size. The two pieces were to be 24″ x 24″ on structured panels. What made this collaboration successful was the interplay between the two artists. We both sent numerous pictures of our starts in progress and were able to play off the ideas and techniques the other was using, in this we created a true pair of collages instead of two separate pieces.”
— Robert Hugh Hunt
 

Collaboration between collage artists is a widespread, dynamic development within a medium that has shown extraordinary vitality after its centennial milestone in 2012. This very well may be part of a broader phenomenon, due in no small way to the explosion of social media and a greater networking among artists of all kinds. I was not surprised when, earlier this year, here in my home state, the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea announced a major exhibition called It Takes Two: Collaborations by Kentucky Artisans.

In response to this opportunity, I decided to contact Robert Hugh Hunt, an artist from Richmond, Kentucky whose work I had come to respect after we made a connection through Facebook. Both of us were aware of our geographic proximity, but had not previously met in person, nor had we collaborated remotely on a casual project. Appreciating each other’s prior work is no guarantee that two artists will enjoy the collaborative process or value the creative end result. Only by risking a joint venture will both artists find out if they actually are “on the same wavelength.” I am pleased to report that the results of my teamwork with Robert exceeded our optimistic expectations, and that one of the two pieces we created was selected for the “Takes Two” show.

As artists, Robert and I both work regularly with combined mediums, but we chose collage as the foundation of our approach because we recognize how ideally suited it is for collaboration. There was no inclination to think small. We each fabricated larger dimensional panels and created a “start” for the other — to establish the background and organize the two-dimensional space with found material and other recycled/repurposed elements. collage collaboration ~ the start by Robert Hugh Hunt for Kentucky Sovereign ~ collage on structured panelAfter meeting for the first time (with spouses, over lunch at a delightful new Cuban eatery halfway between our studios), we exchanged the unfinished works to complete the compositions with additional ingredients and renderings. Robert’s recognized practice of layering his cut-and-paste collage artworks with mixed-media additions had already caught my attention, and his expressed aim to do the same within our collaboration inspired me to include a hand-rendered element as a focal point in my “finish,” which we titled Kentucky Sovereign. Robert’s finish, Kentucky Madonna, features multiple mixed-media treatments on top of my background shapes. The effect helps to integrate our respective techniques and to bond the artworks as a “true pair,” to use Robert’s phrase.

For my start, I began with a section of an Iraqi newspaper brought home by a member of the Kentucky National Guard. Robert made use of clippings from a 1940s-era newspaper that he got from fellow collage artist Ted Tollefson. collage collaboration ~ the start by John Andrew Dixon for Kentucky Madonna ~ collage on structured panelOur range of “merz-strokes” was unfettered, but we shared a desire to “Kentuckify” our choices, although neither of us knew exactly what we meant by that. Other ingredients include magazine scraps, printed papers, antique maps, used packaging, illustrations from discarded books, mesh bag material, tissue, fabric, plastic clasps, wood, gummed labels, metal, emptied tea-bags, produce stickers, foil, wallpaper, digital printouts, a paper doily, and more (with a modest assemblage aspect thrown in for good measure). As with any collaboration, the challenge is to discover a way to enhance the start in a complimentary manner and also to bring one’s personal approach to the finish. Our decision to avoid isolation was a good one. Images exchanged during development kept the creative energy in flux and maintained a visual cord (a common chord?) between the surfaces as they evolved separately. It was a positive experience for both of us and boosted our enthusiasm to continue as active collaborators.

Thanks, Robbo!
 

finish by John Andrew Dixon for Kentucky Sovereign ~ a collaboration with R H Hunt ~ collage on structured panel

Kentucky Sovereign
a collaboration by R H Hunt and J A Dixon
collage on structured panel, 24 x 24 inches
(start by Hunt, finish by Dixon)
selected for It Takes Two: Collaborations by Kentucky Artisans
available for purchase

finish by Robert Hugh Hunt for Kentucky Modonna ~ a collaboration with John Andrew Dixon ~ collage on structured panel

Kentucky Madonna
a collaboration by J A Dixon and R H Hunt
collage on structured panel, 24 x 24 inches
(start by Dixon, finish by Hunt)
available for purchase

Collage Miniature Collaboration Number Two

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
— Cesar A Cruz

The poet and activist surely was talking about something more significant than a collage collaboration, but his words apply. I can be the object of my own ease and distress when it comes to this sort of thing. Collaborations can be fulfilling when a meeting of minds is achieved, but they should be approached as experimental stretches. Safety has no place when solving these equations. Thanks, Allan, for another round of soothing discomfort!
 

A collage miniature collaboration by John Andrew Dixon and Allan Bealy

Untitled (breech bloom)
a collage miniature collaboration by J A Dixon and A Bealy
(start by Bealy, finish by Dixon)
5 x 7 inches, collection of J A Dixon

A collage miniature collaboration by John Andrew Dixon and Allan Bealy

Untitled (spare keys)
a collage miniature collaboration by J A Dixon and A Bealy
(start by Bealy, finish by Dixon)
5 x 7 inches, collection of A Bealy

As Seen On TV

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

“This was among some of the collaborations I received while I was going through chemo. I recently found some of the ones I had set aside when really sick and completely forgot about.”
– Ted Tollefson

While we’re on the subject of collage on coasters, a pleasant surprise explodes on the scene from an exemplar of the genre, Ted Tollefson. A prolific collaborator, Ted has impressed many of us working in the medium with his diversity of approach and an indefatigable spirit. Keep your eye on this guy!
 

As Seen On TV ~ a collage on beer coaster collaboration ~ start by John Andrew Dixon, finish by Ted Tollefson

As Seen On TV
collage on Budweiser coaster, 4 x 4 inches
(start by J A Dixon, finish by T Tollefson)
collection of T Tollefson

Two Bealy starters standing by . . .

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

 
two collage starters from Allan Bealy

two collage starters from A Bealy
collage on paper by A Bealy
prepared for 5 x 7-inch crops

Collage Miniature Collaboration Number One

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

“I am most interested in discovering new ways to tell an old story, with humor, irony, and a dash of anarchy!”
— Allan Bealy

It was a pleasure to take a step deeper into the collaboration zone with Brooklyn-based artist and art director Allan Bealy. Take a look at my March 1st entry to see the starters that I sent Allan. His finished artworks are delightfully effective. The rugged, floating pear is a fine touch, and decisively positioned, too. His rhythmic figures are splendid in the second collage, and the “circle v” anchors the whole composition. Thank you, Allan. Now it’s time for me to tackle the items you sent for me to complete!
 

A collage miniature collaboration by John Andrew Dixon and Allan Bealy

Untitled (rugged pear)
a collage miniature collaboration by J A Dixon and A Bealy
(start by Dixon, finish by Bealy)
5 x 7 inches, collection of J A Dixon

A collage miniature collaboration by John Andrew Dixon and Allan Bealy

Untitled (rhythmic figures)
a collage miniature collaboration by J A Dixon and A Bealy
(start by Dixon, finish by Bealy)
5 x 7 inches, collection of A Bealy