Archive for the 'New Year New Art' Category

Another worthy collaborative alliance

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when
brothers dwell in unity!”
— Psalms 133:1
 

Collage collaboration is thriving in the Bluegrass. Robert Hugh Hunt and I began to think about a new project earlier last year, to follow our double-piece venture of 2015 (unveiled at the Kentucky Artisan Center’s It Takes Two show, featured at JUXTAPOSED, and also recognized in the state capitol rotunda as part of the 2016 Governor’s Derby Exhibit). Based on a thumbnail sketch in my journal that suggested a pair of interlocking shapes, we each took a 16×20 canvas-on-wood construction and worked independently on a solution to our “puzzle.” As we shared images online, a color scheme evolved as visual ideas echoed. Out of the gate, a found drawing of lupine eyes would demand a lower face with grinning mouth. Before long, we had exchanged a digital simulation of how the pieces would configure. Robert responded with a television element after I pasted the face of Fidel into a vintage TV set. (Strangely enough, this was a few weeks before the dictator’s demise.) When my partner, known for his mixed-media roosters, drew a chicken head, I added a corresponding game fowl to further the red-black theme. Did my fragment of a playing card spark his array of floating club symbols? His hand-drawn kissers certainly inspired my pencil and acrylic rendering of the “photo-booth” Kennedys.
   
   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Finishing touches were made after we had shared our final interim images. When our halves converged for the culminating “intercourse,” we thought it desirable for me to install a clamping device, so that the components might stand alone in the future. I explored possibilities and tried some ideas at my workbench, but, alas, I have never been an engineer. Fortunately, my kind collaborator was comfortable with a decision to join them permanently and declare victory.

‘Dreams Aligned’ (a collaborative collage construction by John Andrew Dixon and Robert Hugh Hunt) at the 2017 NEW YEAR NEW ART exhibition ~ Community Arts Center, Danville, KentuckyAll in all, I found our creative teamwork to be an immensely satisfying collaboration. The result was selected to be part of the local NEW YEAR NEW ART winter exhibition. Even though the interlocking feature of the artwork is probably more discernible when viewing it in person, it makes for a provocative online impression, and we were pleased that it was designated as the promotional poster for the show. the 2017 NEW YEAR NEW ART exhibition ~ Community Arts Center, Danville, KentuckyAfter I had sorted through dozens of potential titles with a lack of conviction, Robert coined the phrase that stuck. He wrote this to me when he summed up our experimental process:

“Well, this collaboration was unlike any I had done. Most art collaborations have multiple artists working one at a time on a single piece until it is finished. As the artist, you are either ‘starting’ the collaborative piece or ‘finishing’ it, and, in cases with more than two collaborators, you could be working the ‘middle’ of the piece. But with Dreams Aligned, we took a different approach — creating two pieces, which I felt should stand on their own, and merging the two into one piece that not only worked as a whole, but made a stronger piece than the two works alone. And the fact that we had worked together successfully before, and understood each other’s artistic language, and that we kept a visual dialogue ongoing, showing each other the progress on their ‘half,’ following each other’s visual cues on medium, color, composition, etc. — in this way we were able to create a collaboration with two distinct artistic halves. It wasn’t a merging as much as an alignment of our artistic styles and languages, hence the title.”
 
Dreams Aligned ~ a collaborative collage construction ~ Kentucky artists John Andrew Dixon and Robert Hugh Hunt

Dreams Aligned
a collage collaboration by J A Dixon and R H Hunt
mixed-media construction, 26.75 x 26.5 inches
(left component by Dixon, right component by Hunt)
available for purchase

Empress of Wings — When is the flight over?

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

“I tell you what gets harder over the years, it’s coming to grips with ‘is it finished yet or do I want to make one more change?’”
– Burton Cummings

Being invited by our Community Arts Center to participate in the annual winter invitational of regional artists never fails to jump-start my burst of year-end activity. Submissions to the January-to-February show are required to have been completed after August. The request comes in late October, but, instead of selecting from completed works, I’ll typically commence a work specific to the exhibition in early November. I set a goal this time to produce my largest collage ever and to shoot some in-progress photos.

The first image below indicates how I blocked out the early composition with mostly larger elements. The second represents how the color-quantity contrasts and spatial manipulations resolved themselves. The last image is the finished work with final layering and a few closing refinements.

It is a challenge to maintain a high degree of spontaneity when creating so large a work (for me, the dedicated miniaturist). It helps to carry a momentum of small-scale experimentation into the process, plus there are things I do to boost an “organic” flow. For example, if there are aspects of the color scheme I want to enhance, rather than acquire and position new elements one by one and invite too much preoccupation with each, I will quickly prepare a batch of ingredients and place them into the composition as rapidly and as intuitively as possible, responding to my impression of the evolving totality. Instead of pondering two-dimensional locations, the eye or hand moves first, and one learns to trust whether something “belongs” or not. Also, it can be difficult to know when the winding down to conclusion should start. At a certain point, I become conscious of a natural progression toward closing refinements (more logical considerations for balancing and harmonizing the overall effect). Noticing an escalation of rational deliberation can be the reliable signal that a piece may nearly be done — almost time to “pull the plug and sign it.”

We are unlikely to hear any collage artist say that completing a work is an exact science. Personally, if I walk away from something that I suspect is finished, it is less probable that I will continue to monkey with it when I come back. It is beneficial to have an objective consultant — in my case, a trusted partner willing to instruct, “Don’t touch it!”

I also should note that the exhibition is an opportunity for Robert Hugh Hunt and me to unveil another major collaboration (more to say about that next time). Creating the interlocking mixed-media construction was an interesting process. The result is something unconventional, and we’re pleased that it was selected as the promotional image for the show.
 

 
 
an early and a late
stage of my largest
collage painting to date
 
(click each to view larger)

 
 
 

Empress of Wings ~ John Andrew Dixon

Empress of Wings
collage on canvas by J A Dixon
42.25 x 30.375 inches
available for purchase

New Year New Art, 2016

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

“The pitch is fairly simple – we invite a bunch of our favorite local and regional artists to show us their latest work – made since August of this year. The artists have a ton of energy and momentum for this show because they know that people will see their work, they know that the other artists are putting together something amazing, so there is a lot of positive peer pressure to make some outstanding work.”
— Brandon Long
 

One of my most anticipated exhibitions of the year is the annual New Year New Art show at our local Community Arts Center. For the fourth year running, the invitational has been organized by Brandon Long. The current installment is the biggest ever. A versatile artist and designer in his own right, Long is a confidante, motivator, and energetic ambassador for the arts in Central Kentucky. He has both the artist’s and the institution’s best interests at heart, and that is not an easy balancing act to pull off. Whatever else may transpire in the year to follow, it is gratifying to display new work of my own choosing among friends and fellow collage artists such as Kathleen O’Brien and Connie Beale. If you are in the area and weather cooperates, be sure to check out this outstanding January show.

Knowing that whatever I create will have a public unveiling, surrounded by selections from some of the finest regional artists, has challenged me to transcend self-imposed perceptions about the medium of collage. It also has spurred me to lift my artisanship up another notch for the upcoming year. Two ideas converged to spark Pearallelograms — more details about the piece in my next entry.
 

Pearallelograms ~ J A Dixon

Pearallelograms
collage construction by J A Dixon
22 x 22 inches
available for purchase

A universal antidote . . .

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it
acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is
the greatest art of all.”
— Ray Bradbury

I was honored, but also thrilled, to accept my third invitation for the “New Year New Art” exhibition at our local Community Arts Center, one of the outstanding cultural institutions in Central Kentucky. The extraordinary thing about this annual show is a freedom to display, The Barretts ~ a portrait by John Andrew Dixonwithout juried appraisal, one or two pieces for which one has passion. The only restriction is that the work not be over four months old. I decided to create something around the holidays specifically for the opportunity, and, because I had just completed a difficult portrait commission in watercolor and pencil, a more personal form of expression was a welcome idea. I had used an illustrative, “news-magazine-cover” style that always has had great appeal to me, but that over the years has challenged my self confidence and repeatedly has put my perfectionist tendencies to a stress test. Fortunately, I have discovered a universal antidote for all that — collage.

For the January exhibition I wanted to do something fresh, to surprise myself, but also, as most artists prefer, to create something that would please others, that would excite an individual’s subjective response. Mixed-media collage is a medium that people find both provocative and delightful, and to which I am strongly committed, but that should be no surprise to anyone who follows this site. As a working designer and graphic artist, I return to collage on a nearly daily basis as fuel for my creative life and a potent solvent for that side of myself which continually flirts with self doubt if something might not turn out exactly as I imagine it should. All that nonsense fades away when I incite the spontaneity of this magnificent medium.

Of course, I remain captivated by the ability to make something of value from material that otherwise would be thrown away or recycled. I enjoy creating artwork that has bold visual appeal from across a room, but that also provides a depth of interest at close observation, with many stimulating details within an intimate viewing distance. “Matthew’s Touchonic Lodge” is primarily an abstract composition, and I salute two collage artists whose work I admire with my title and embedded allusions. “Apparition Rising” uses ingredients that are more whimsical, but perhaps slightly “spooky” at the same time. A phrase from a song that I like sparked the genesis of its assembly. Both are significantly larger than my typical miniature, more dimensional than a standard flat surface, and, as with all my designs, I worked intuitively with color, contrast, and the activation of space. In addition, I continue to push the effect of collage as a stand-alone treatment that does not demand the protective glass barrier. Please let me know what you think of these new works.
 

Dixon_TouchonicLodge

Matthew’s Touchonic Lodge
mixed-media collage by J A Dixon
22.5 x 20 inches, December 2014
title source: homage to artists M Rose and C Touchon
Purchase this artwork!

Dixon_ApparitionRising

Apparition Rising
mixed-media collage by J A Dixon
19.5 x 27.5 inches, December 2014
title source: from the song “Ghost Town” by J Brasfield
available for purchase

Touchonic Rites

Monday, January 27th, 2014

When I was invited by Danville’s Community Arts Center to submit a piece for their annual “New Year, New Art” exhibition, I picked an homage to Cecil Touchon that I finished in December. Any observant artist who introduces cropped typography into a collage cannot be unaware of his significant body of contemporary work.
 

 

Touchonic Rites
collage on canvas
by J A Dixon
20 x 16 inches
currently on consignment
 
Purchase this artwork!

First exhibition of 2013

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

“What makes a painting meaningful is the spectacle of the ordinary content living together with the equally important life of the picture plane and the unity of the whole surface.”
— Gillian Pederson Krag

It pleases me to say that my most recent large-scale artwork will be on display and available for purchase as part of an invitational exhibition now hanging in my hometown.

NEW YEAR NEW ART ~ Community Arts Center, Danville, Kentucky
January 2 to 26, 2013 ~ Reception: January 10, 6–8 pm

The invitation to participate is an honor for two reasons. It is always good for one to know that local people appreciate collage, especially the more esoteric kind. Even more humbling is to be included among some truly outstanding Kentucky artists, such as Sheldon Tapley, Helene Steene, Kathleen O’Brien, and Marianna McDonald. I’m looking forward to the reception this Thursday. Mayor Steven Connelly of nearby Berea will speak on the powerful effect the arts can have on local economies. According to Programming Director Brandon Long, the intention is to showcase “fresh, new art that has the kind of excitement and energy of artists who know their work will go on display.” Many of the diverse works were created specifically for the exhibition, and that includes mine. Everything accepted had to have been executed since September.

Diamonds in the Rough is a composite of panels and stretchers. It is my latest effort to free collage from behind glass and approach the medium in a manner similar to the painted surface that stands on its own. I also departed from my typical rectilinear format, yet sought to maintain the type of perpendicularity that I frequently exploit for a unified structure. As usual, the color balance of found material plays a vital role in my overall composition. The lineage of the collage miniature is strong here. In fact, nearly everything I do to produce a major work comes from what I have learned from the small-format approach. This recognition is not meant in any way to devalue the miniature. I would hope that you have come to know my penchant well enough by now to appreciate that.

The next entry will include some detail crops and perhaps a few remarks about the process, too.
 
Diamonds in the Rough ~ J A Dixon

Diamonds in the Rough
collage construction by J A Dixon
36 x 36 inches
currently on consignment
 
Purchase this artwork!