Archive for the ‘Exhibitions’ Category

Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

My solo show of collage landscapes is back on display — this time at the Eastside Branch of the Lexington Public Library. The exhibition lasts from May 1 to June 30 — Palumbo Drive at Man O War Boulevard.

Believing is seeing . . .

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

“Accepting the familiar is the enemy of seeing… Seeing takes work and patience and concentration and focus otherwise we are always walking around in a fog only seeing what we think we know but not actually seeing anything at all.”
— Cecil Touchon
 

 
Although I have worked outside at entirely wild places (river palisades, for example), I seem to be drawn more to locations that have been cared for by others. To truly observe a rural setting and interpret it with found paper as a collage landscape, I need to spend hours slowing down my busy mind. I approach a kind of reverence for it as a place of evident stewardship and quiet beauty. It’s a slow-motion form of rapt attention, and I am able to see it as a fusion of natural creation with human affection. LITTER-ALLY KENTUCKY is the result.

 

Her Brother’s Barn
Boyle County, Kentucky
 
collage en plein air by J A Dixon
8 x 9.3125 inches
16 x 20 inches, framed
giclée print available

Now offering collector-quality glicée prints

Friday, November 10th, 2023

The LITTER-ALLY KENTUCKY collection was conceived and funded as a traveling exhibition. While the original body of work is not currently for sale, all sixteen collage landscape artworks are available as affordable frame-worthy glicée reproductions printed on archival stock.

Despite patrons’ asking for them over the years, offering prints is a first for me — other than at note card size. The high standards I was looking for have been met by Fine Art Editions Gallery & Press of Georgetown, Kentucky. Owner John S Hockensmith, well-known photographic artist who fine-tuned an advanced giclée process for his own exacting requirements, has made his exceptional quality available for my work. I’m gratified to be one of a limited number of Kentucky artists with whom he has chosen to collaborate.

Due to the nature of the ingredients and constraints of working en plein air, my originals are typically small. Without loss of detail, these glicée enlargements capture the dimensionality of my collage technique and reveal subtleties of pasted layers and torn text. You can purchase individual prints at 150% enlargement on standard acid-free vellum stock for $275. The entire LITTER-ALLY KENTUCKY group of artworks can be acquired as a collector set printed on Japanese paper and housed in an archival box for $3500; individual works printed on the same handmade paper are available for $295 each.

the LITTER-ALLY KENTUCKY collection

Monday, October 16th, 2023

 

Thank you for your interest in my new collection of landscapes. This original collage artwork is infused with litter to promote stewardship of natural places. Premium giclée prints are available.

 
   

   

   

   

   

Saturday, October 7th, 2023


 

My solo landscape show: “LITTER-ALLY KENTUCKY”

Sunday, September 24th, 2023

“At some point, the virtuosic construction of these works seems to fade in the mind, leaving in its wake only the images themselves: soft, somber, complicated skies worthy of Turner or Constable; rolling fields that would have attracted Thomas Hart Benton or Grant Wood.”
— Kevin Nance
 

A year after an update here about progress on my grant-supported body of new collage landscapes, I’m pleased to announce that this en plein air artwork will be revealed next month.

 
The exhibition will open on October 5 at the Woodford County Library in downtown Versailles, Kentucky, and continue through November during regular hours. The library will host an opening reception on Sunday, October 8, from 2pm until 4pm. I’ll give a gallery talk Thursday, October 12, at 6pm, and again on Saturday, November 11, at 2pm.

I’ve devoted much creative time and energy to this project over many months. Public funds have provided support and enabled me to bring a higher level of presentation to the most in-depth investigation that I’ve made into representational collage, but the endeavor could not have been possible without the hospitality of those who opened their rural places to my grateful scrutiny. Fortunately, only one person declined to grant permission for me to “paint in papers.” Everyone else was astonishingly trusting and helpful. Of course, they know who they are, and I can’t thank them enough.

The artworks that I created at locations in six Central Kentucky counties are infused with fragments of litter accumulated along local streets and roadways. The concept of using collage art to bring awareness to the ongoing problem of littering was the theme of my application for support during the aftermath of lockdowns. I received a Kentucky Artist Rescue grant from the Kentucky Arts Council with federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Since I intend to have this show travel around a bit over the coming months, I want to acknowledge the individuals in Woodford County who offered my first opportunity: Karen Kasacavage and Tommy Dennison. Leave it to a pair of helpful librarians to get me out of the starting gate! Because part of my overall effort is to engage both children and adults during the show’s run, this will be an ideal setting to carry an unconventional message about achieving a cleaner environment in the Commonwealth. With this recent body of work, I’ve repurposed the products of our “toss-it” culture as interpretations of specific natural places. My hope is to bring awareness to the role of individuals in reducing consumer waste and to promote a more conscious stewardship of the land that surrounds us.

Each of the 16 artworks (ten verticals and six horizontals) is matted and framed in the “gallery style” within a 16×20-inch proportion. In order to allow a series of showings in different counties, the originals will not be available for purchase at this time. Instead, collector-quality glicée prints of all the landscapes on display will be offered through Fine Art Editions of Georgetown, Kentucky. You are invited to visit the exhibition and attend associated events. I also will have original collage artwork for sale across the street from the library at Art Space Versailles.

As LITTER-ALLY makes its journey around Kentucky, stop back here for more information, new developments, and to dig a bit deeper into my adventure creating collage landscapes en plein air.
 
 

High Bridge Vantage
Garrard County, Kentucky
 
collage en plein air by J A Dixon
10.9375 x 7.9375 inches
20 x 16 inches, framed
giclée print available

A new display rack for the Holiday Market . . .

Thursday, November 24th, 2022


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The “Holiday Market” at Art Center of the Bluegrass is in full swing! Fourteen of my collage miniatures are available and priced for gift giving. I enjoyed designing and making a new rack to display collage art from a few pieces of fine walnut that were kicking around in our box of scrap wood (for what seems like forever).
 

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody!

 

 
   

“LITTER-ALLY KENTUCKY” takes shape . . .

Friday, September 30th, 2022

“The thing is to be attentively present. To sit and wait is as important as to move. Patience is as valuable as industry. What is to be known is always there. When it reveals itself to you, or when you come upon it, it is by chance. The only condition is your being there and being watchful.”
— Wendell Berry
 

At the close of 2021, based on my plein-air practice to date, I applied to the Kentucky Arts Council and received a KAR grant with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The goal of my project is an exhibition-worthy body of collage landscapes created from salvaged ingredients consisting of litter, trash, and recycled papers. The new works are en plein air interpretations of actual rural spots in Central Kentucky. The collection will be made available to partnering venues as a thematic exhibition that carries a call for greater awareness of how we interact with our environment. The traveling display will invite community engagement in the form of gallery talks, student opportunities, and online references — with a message for greater litter awareness and a cleaner countryside in the Commonwealth.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
To fulfill this grant-supported process, I am nearing the end of my creation phase. It’s been a period of acquiring paper litter, arranging visits to rural locations, engaging with property owners who accommodate my on-site sessions, starting the landscapes outside, and making follow-up studio refinements. Collage artworks will have been made at over a dozen locations in six contiguous Central Kentucky counties around Danville. I avoid exceeding my outside time when completing a landscape indoors, to stay within a 50:50 ratio. There are techniques for details that are best left to the end, when the breeze is not a factor, but my goal is to retain the fresh, intuitive quality of the initial impression.

It often seems like I’m behind schedule, until I remind myself that the entire process is not unlike the act of being present in nature. The way forward can be revealed as much by receptivity as by forced progression. I’ll spend the balance of the year with finishing touches, having the artwork professionally framed, preparing support materials and promotions for my sought-after series of shows, plus contacting venues suitable for the traveling display (which will be chosen in part based on the anticipated reach and exposure for optimum audiences, including youngsters).

An important part of this project has been my desire to interact with the public about a relatively recent area of concentration for me as an artist — representational collage. Until they observe more closely, many people think my landscapes are traditional paintings. It’s been rewarding to watch this sense of discovery, so similar to what I experience as I explore the potential of art made from paper. This connection with others fired my enthusiasm and prompted me to propose a way to engage audiences with another layer of meaning. By including a higher percentage of litter and trash, I hope to further a conversation about the ongoing problem of litter in Kentucky and the solid waste crisis in general. As I exhibit “painted” rural scenes that were created with by-products of our wasteful society, I’m optimistic that my art will promote a more conscious regard for stewardship of natural places.

 

Near Catnip Hill
collage en plein air by J A Dixon
50% / 50% — site to studio
8.375 x 8.625 inches, 2022

Her Back Door

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

“Don’t come a-knockin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your shadow no more
Coloured lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes.”
B L Cummings
 

Here’s a recent plein air collage of mine that’s on display in the conference center exhibition presented by the Arts Commission of Danville / Boyle County at Constitution Square. I consider this in the category of “miniature house portraits,” which would pose challenges in any medium. Working with paper (particularly when outside) makes for a tricky process of interpreting proper perspective. It’s been suggested that I didn’t nail the vanishing points with this one, even though I completed most of the architectural treatments in the studio.

Harlan Hubbard thought that, “a painting, to be good, must be done with dash and abandonment, even one which has meticulous detail. If one niggles over it, the result is dull and lifeless.” It’s a danger for any artist to “niggle” or “noodle” at the expense of the overall expression. I haven’t convinced myself that it didn’t happen with this one, even though a plein air painter that I admire thinks otherwise. It has something to do with my intentionally introducing a contrast of crisp detail and soft ambiguity — with a debatable degree of success. I guess that the “eye of the beholder” has to take it from here. Without a doubt, I haven’t confronted this difficulty for the last time.

 

Her Back Door
collage en plein air by J A Dixon
7.125 x 9 inches
50:50 site/studio
available for purchase

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

Tenth Chapter: Painting from nature with paper

Saturday, February 19th, 2022

“Follow the ways of natural creation, the becoming, the functioning of forms, then perhaps starting from nature you will achieve formations of your own, and one day you may even become like nature yourself and start creating.”
— Paul Klee
 

As I pushed toward the hanging date for CHANGE OF SEEN last month, I pulled out an unfinished work. In 2020 it had been my hope to complete it as part of the Paint By Nature entry — an interpretation of an urban oak tree. Everything was done except for the tree itself, which I’d wanted to paste together in a burst of spontaneity. The “start” went into cold storage when I ran out of time for two submissions. Fast forward to January 2022. Now I had the ideal scenario. My tight deadline would not allow me to indulge any slowdown or second guess. Positive, unanticipated things often happen when I occasionally challenge myself to work under a severe constraint. The hesitant, rational mind is sidelined in favor of an intuitive response that is rooted in everything one has ever created. This can be the case with music, writing, or nearly any artistic format, but the phenomenon especially lends itself to painting.

Interestingly, I’ve always preferred watercolors to other paint mediums because of its unpredictability and the “happy accidents” that occur. I admire oils greatly, but they hold no attraction for me as I approach my 70s. I hadn’t expected to discover that “painting in papers” could captivate me so and knit a reverence for nature into my art. One of the primary appeals of collage is total flexibility. It’s almost impossible to make a blunder, if one stays “in the zone” without letting the intellect gain an upper hand. When others use words such as exacting or meticulous to describe what I do, it usually throws me, because I consider my approach as more instinctive. And yet, there is no denying the presence of “artisanship.” With any task at hand, craft is essential. It was drilled into me with rigor after I chose the path of applied design. (That the young are asked to dedicate themselves to a particular discipline and to ignore countless alternatives is a weird fact of life. Many of us spend decades unraveling it.) So, a certain precision is fused into my method, even when I’m racing the clock. One man’s chaos is another man’s perfectionism.

I’ve lived my adult life trying to spin creative gold in a studio of one sort or another. A supremacy of the natural world in my youth had been set aside as part of an itinerary toward the graphic arts profession. Reflecting on a long journey that leads to the ever-rolling “now,” I recognize that nature was always calling. It influenced my leaving big cities for a smaller community. It provided a firm foundation for my diet and a health-oriented lifestyle. It was an unfailing source for well-being when conditions seemed out of balance. Even so, an unsatisfied need remained elusive until I finally took paper and paste outdoors, where the potential for inspiration was out of arm’s reach. That I could respond with collage, and find it so rewarding, is something I hadn’t foreseen.

If you want to start with the first chapter, you can find that story here. It’s been almost five years of direct observation, and I’m itching to begin a new season of working en plein air. The broader point I’d like to make is how the experience also has invigorated the way I approach representational collage in the studio. It feels like it’s all been funneled into an evolving intuition. Working outside has transformed how I make visual decisions even when using photographic reference under pressure, as I did with Grand Chinkapin. After quickly preparing piles of printed scrap that seemed appropriate for tree foliage, I was able to explode those ingredients into place with a minimum of conscious thought — not unlike I try to do every time I take my collage kit on location. “Painting from nature with paper” has become a more integrated practice, inside or outside. Change of Seen shares this adventure with others.

 

Grand Chinkapin
collage with combined mediums by J A Dixon
0% / 100% — site to studio
11 x 7.75 inches + shadow-box frame
available for purchase