Sunday, November 30, 2008

Celebrating Today

This blog has been up for a month and I have kept with it. . . I am so proud. Plus I'm having so much fun! Another thing I am celebrating is the introduction of Firefox into my life. That whole tab thing is so cool. And no more of those annoying little windows asking me if I want to de-bug someone elses code!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tony Fitzpatrick

I've been spending a lot of time looking at the collages of Tony Fitzpatrick. I admire his work so much that I've added his site to my list of favorite artists. Most of his work is small for all of its wealth of detail: 6x9 inches or 10x13 inches usually. All feature his characteristic pasted up patterned borders, somewhat reminiscent of the style of Felipe Jesus Consalvos. There is frequently a dominant symbol in the center: sometimes as a flat single colored silhouette, other times an object stylistically decorated. In some pieces, a message spelled out in letters cut from different colored ephemera is the main focus. The work frequently includes poetic handwritten words arranged vertically and flush with the left and right borders. The backgrounds are always a flat color upon which a myriad of small objects are arranged. There is usually some reoccurring pattern like a dotted line, a string of beads or the suggestion of a constellation of stars that provides visual unity. A background consisting of a ruled grid can be seen in most of Fitzpatrick's later pieces. All of his work makes use of bright color contrast, interesting vintage found imagery (sheet music, matchbook covers, advertising and the like) in combination with painted elements that invite closer scrutiny.

Here's a link to a 2005 interview with Tony Fitzpatrick at Reader's Voice (he likes James Ellroy). I've just ordered a book of Fitzpatrick's art called The Wonder: Portraits of a Remembered City -- The Dream City and I can't wait to see it!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Magik Glasses

I found a funny animated collage called Peeping Tom's Peep Show at Julie Sadler's site called Magik Glasses. A man points to a center disc and when you click on it, curtains part above it to reveal a colorful collage of vintage nude women. The collage rotates when you click and hold the center disc. "Opportunity is knocking" it reads. It took a while to load on my computer but it was worth the wait. Most of the piece is black and white illustration in contrast to the little moving show which is in color.

On the same site is InsEktikA, another animated collage. Click on the moving insects with human heads to advance the story of "uniform non-conformity". A third piece called As I create, I also daydream, is also worth a look. There's lots of movement involving insects and other creatures in this two act drama. Click on the center of the first page to advance to the second.

Sadler has created a book of collage art titled Dreamiverse ("I dream in collage, don't you?" she asks) and also a collaged pop-up book. I learned about The Movable Book Society from Magik Glasses and at the bottom of the home page are many more tempting links that I'm off to explore right now!

New Collage Materials

I found one half of a beautiful old etching this morning at the dump, as well as a Ladies Home Journal from 1914, and C.J. Bulliet's Apples and Madonnas; Emotional Expression in Modern Art (1930).

How Long?

Ok, the bottom line is that it takes 10,000 hours to get good at anything, any "cognitively complex pursuit" that is. Like drawing or painting. I'll never get my hours in for drawing but I just might try to cram near the end. Collage has a shorter learning curve especially if you start with sharp scissors. Do the math: that many hours amounts to three and a half years of practice for eight hours a day! (Thanks to Robert Genn for bringing this fact to my attention this morning.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Found It!

I can't believe it. My first photomontage. I've had this for 35 years, maybe. Now I have a copy in case I misplace it again. I should collage it into something. Maybe combine it with an old family photo to honor my Canadian heritage.
My grandmother, Blanche is the first woman seated on the right. To her left sits my great-grandmother Clothilde (of recent dictionary fame) . Now if I can just find the film reel and the little envelope with the paper pieces. I may have to light a candle for this!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Faith In the System

I feel like I'm doing live commentary today but I just got my first NetFlick in the mail today, two of them, in fact. I was mildly shocked at first to see how little packaging is involved but the system involves little waste. (Those labels they put on the sleeve will no doubt be like catnip to Mica.) I have just watched Chris Landreth's homage to animation pioneer Ryan Larkin. There are others but I had to stop after Ryan to let it sink in. Amazing and timely on more than one level. The theme music is very hypnotic. I am listening to it now. Wow, I can't believe what I just saw. . . I'm going to watch it again.

Oh, yes. . . and my second flick is an older compilation from the National Film Board of Canada. I've seen at least two of the selections: The Cat Came Back and The Big Snit were favorites back when my daughter was young.

Writing With Images

One of the most informative resources for critical discussion of contemporary collage on the web is Writing with Images: Toward a Semiotics of the Web by George L. Dillon who is professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Washington. Here is a link to the Table of Contents although starting with the Conclusion is not a bad idea. His section on Animated, Interactive, Multimedia, and Randomized Collage is of great interest to me due to my latest tangent. From here I have explored the work of Ian Campbell whose ambiant multimedia collages combine inspiration from Kurt Schwitters and Joseph Cornell in his own richly surreal textural reality. I especially like Push (click the lens to view the series) and Glimpses of an Afternoon (make sure you have sound on for this one). I had to look up "semiotics." Good word.

Collage and Animation

My mind is racing about the possibilities for combining animation and collage. A whole new world is opening up. I remember little exercises that I have done in the past. One was my first photomontage done on a xerox machine. I was working in a library at the time and was afforded the luxury of being able to feed the same piece of paper back through the machine a second time. The images I superimposed were black and white photos: a woman lying on her back with one knee bent up, and a row of trees standing separately. I lined it up so she's lying in a forest with one of her hands holding a tree. I still have the original xerox, very yellow. It was once adhered to a backing with spray glue. I know it's around and if I'm careful not to seek it directly it may turn up.

My second exercise was actual animation shot frame by frame with a 35mm camera on a copy stand. A library school assignment. I had just begun working for a large engineering firm and was adjusting poorly to the corporate environment. I used cut paper shapes from patterned wall-paper, plus letters and small birds printed with rubber stamps. (I found a manila envelope containing all of the pieces not long ago, and the actual film, packaged similarly, is hidden in some drawer.) I can't remember the title but I remember cutting out the individual letters. There is a man in a drab suit and tie and suddenly some birds fly into the frame, flutter through his brain, and he sheds his jacket and tie and adopts bright colors. I loved working on the copy stand and recognized it as a brightly lit stage upon which my true feelings could be exposed. I had created individual slides before, but this was my first experience with animation. I had a picture in my mind of what I was hoping to attain but had no idea what to expect. Everyone in the class shot their project on the same reel of film. The professor ran the film and when my short bit played by I felt like I had created magic. He played the film maybe two more times and that was it. Nobody wanted their work back except for me and I got it back on a little reel but I haven't viewed it since that class.

Collage Progress Report

I guess it's safe to say that with all of the intense reading and personal evaluation that has been going on, I haven't made much measurable progress in the collage arena. Last "week-end" I did not accomplish much aside from making a nice organized studio space but at least that's something. One idea has been growing stronger, that of achieving animation in my collage. And my first candidate for experimentation may very well be the piece shown above. A close friend of mine finds it offensive, by the way, and that knowledge has interrupted my progress with it. Maybe I should stop revealing work while it is still in progress.

The animation idea started with my discovery of the enchanting web site of Bruno Mallart and was further fueled by my revisitation of The Dot and The Line. And I have to mention the surreal Gumby cartoons of the late 50's and early 60's, another childhood influence. I've learned about an interesting film about Gumby's creator, clay animation artist Art Clokey. Unfortunately, Gumby Dharma appears to be available on DVD only in Australia right now. But there are lots of interesting examples of animation art which can be seen on DVD, so many that I have finally joined Netflix in order to be able to enjoy them all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Re: Stigma

I have been engrossed in this book for two days. I've been giving a lot of thought to my identity by which I mean how I perceive myself rather than how I consciously project myself in front of others. I have re-created myself: re-named myself, and allowed myself to be the artist I always secretly wanted to be. I wonder if re-creation is really correct here. Perhaps I have merely dropped the people-pleasing fascade that hindered my personal, creative and spiritual growth. The more I focus on artistic endeavors, the less time I waste worring about how I appear to others. And as a result of reading Erving Goffman's book, I will no longer blame myself and feel stupid for taking so long to wise-up!

"The fear that others can disrespect a person because of something he shows means that he is always insecure in his contact with other people; and this insecurity arises, not from mysterious and somewhat disguised sources, as a great deal of our anxiety does, but from something he knows he cannot fix. Now that represents an almost fatal deficiency of the self-system, since the self is unable to disguise or exclude a definite formulation that reads, 'I am inferior. Therefore people will dislike me and I cannot be secure with them.'. . . Lacking the salutary feed-back of daily social intercourse with others, the self-isolate can become suspicious, depressed, hostile, anxious, and bewildered." [p 13.] "By staying indoors and not answering the phone or door, the discreditable individual can remove himself from most of those contacts in which his disgrace might be established as part of the biography others have of him. . . One method of disclosure is for the individual voluntarily to wear a stigma symbol, a highly visible sign that advertises his failing wherever he goes."[p 100.] My collages sometimes serve the purpose of similar disclosure. Damn the biography; it's the autobiography that matters!

I see my own childhood self in this next statement: "One day I sudddenly realized that I had become so self-conscious and afraid of all strange children that, like animals, they knew I was afraid, so that even the mildest and most amiable of them were automatically prompted to derision by my own shrinking and dread." [p 17.]

The author speaks of ". . . advocated codes of conduct. . . for an appropriate attitude regarding the self. To fail to adhere to the code is to be a self-deluded, mis-guided person; to succeed is to be both real and worthy. . ." but allows that ". . . this advice about personal conduct sometimes stimulates the stigmatized individual into becoming a critic of the social scene. . . [becoming] 'situation conscious' while normals present are spontaneously involved within the situation. . ." [p 111.] Hmmm, collage art as indicator of critical situation consciousness. I like that concept. I also like this statement: "Whenever an occupation carries with it a change in name, recorded or not, one can be sure that an important breach is involved bewteen the individual and his old world." [p 58.]

In the last chapter, Goffman finally arrives at the term "deviance" saying: "One such deviation is important here, the kind represented by individuals who are seen as declining voluntarily and openly to accept the social place accorded them, and who act irregularly and somewhat rebelliously in connection with our basic institutions. . . These are the 'disaffiliates'. . . Prostitutes, drug addicts, delinquents, criminals, jazz musicians, gypsies, carnival workers, hobos, winos, show people, full time gamblers, beach dwellers, homosexuals, and the urban unrepentant poor--those would be included. Then there are the folk who are considered to be engaged in some kind of collective denial of the social order. They are perceived as failing to use opportunity for advancement in the various approved runways of society; they show open disrespect for their betters; they lack piety; they represent failures in the motivational schemes of society." [pp 143-144.] He makes special mention of ". . . the quietly disaffiliated hobbyists who become so devoted to their avocation that only a husk remains for civil attachments. . ."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Coming Soon to a Collage Near You!

I am frequently amazed by the interconnectedness of the items that I find. I can't read French any more and I almost passed this one by but decided in favor of taking it because of it's beautiful aged cover. Le Martyre De L'Obese translates "The Fat Man's Troubles" and was made into a film in 1932.


Here's another dump find that should be an interesting read. I was drawn to the typographic design and also to the word itself: "Stigma." It's a powerful word, to be sure, and not a positive one, but a word I understand from personal experience. I grew up with two: one physical, the other social. Today I have learned to embrace the concept and boldly flaunt mine in the face of those who would judge me. It has become an important personal element in some of my art: stigma as symbol!

"The Greeks, who were apparently strong on visual aids, originated the term stigma to refer to bodily signs designed to expose something unusual and bad about the moral status of the signifier. The signs were cut or burnt into the body and advertised that the bearer was a slave, a criminal, or a traitor--a blemished person, ritually polluted, to be avoided, especially in public places. Later, in Christian times, two layers of metaphor were added to the term: the first referred to bodily signs of holy grace that took the form of eruptive blossoms on the skin; the second. . . referred to bodily signs of physical disorder. Today the term is widely used in something like the original sense, but is applied more to the disgrace itself than to the bodily evidence of it." [Chapter 1, paragraph 1.]

Dump Literature in Review

I found a great Tom Robbins novel at the dump recently: Skinny Legs and All. Lots to think about there regarding the creation of art, like when Boomer asks, "How do people go about making pieces of art?" and Ellen Cherry replies, "Artists hardly ever start out to make significant art. And if they do, it's usually a flop. . . Maybe thay do set out to make something significant, in a roundabout sort of way, but its not like setting out to make something practical or useful. For one thing, it's more like play than work. On the other hand, they don't have a whole lot of choice in the matter. The good ones make art because they have to make it--even though they probably won't understand why until after it's already made."

"But how do they know what to make?" Boomer asks. And Ellen Cherry says: "Listen, it's really pretty simple. If there's a thing, a scene, maybe, an image that you want to see real bad, that you need to see but it doesn't exist in the world around you, at least not in the form that you envision, then you create it so that you can look at it and have it around, or show it to other people who wouldn't have imagined it because they perceive reality in a more narrow, predictable way. And that's it. That's all an artist does."

Earlier on, she realizes: ". . . a person has not only perceptions but a will to perceive, not only a capacity to observe the world but a capacity to alter his or her observation of it--which, in the end, is the capacity to alter the world, itself. Those people who recognize that the imagination is reality's master, we call 'sages,' and those who act upon it, we call 'artists'. . . Or 'lunatics'."

". . . but the true idiot is distinguished from the 'idiot' sage or 'idiot' artist by his or her lack of control. The idiot's twisted perceptions of the world are not voluntarily or imaginatively altered, they are merely faulty. Lunatics are at the mercy of misunderstool and unmanageable perceptions. When it comes to their reality, artists call the shots."

Happy Birthday, Mica

Yesterday was Mica's birthday. He is six years old now and in his prime. He is the smartest cat I have ever known. In celebration he received a package of six catnip mice, some party mix cat treats (shared with Miss. Pearl) and new litter in all 3 cat boxes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Re: The Dot and The Line

I found a site called Design for Freedom where you can download the animated version of The Dot and The Line. It took me a whole afternoon at 54.6 Kbps and I never did get the very end but it was fun to see the film again. It brought me back to the junior high classroom where, sitting in one of those orange Melmac desk chairs with the wire bookracks underneath, I was first so totally enchanted by it. This time some of the background patterns made me think of the colorful psychedelic work of Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes . She is represented in NYC by the James Cohan Gallery where her show closed just five days ago.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More on Felipe Jesus Consalvos

Those of you who admire the art of Felipe Jesus Consalvos may be interested to know that one of his collages was used to illustrate the music CD cover of "We All Belong" by a group named Dr. Dog. I found an online inverview with lead singer Scott McMicken in which he describes how he discovered the collages when painting the walls of the Fleischer/Ollman Gallery. There is a nice reproduction of the cover art and one other Consalvos piece about three quarters of the way down the page. I should warn you that on the actual CD cover, the art is printed somewhat darker. It was interesting to note that a Campbell's Soup can has been discreetly covered by a red dot. The CD comes with a folded lyric sheet/poster featuring a Consalvos paper doll cut-out of George Washington in drag. This, for me, made it worth the purchase price.

Also, there is the full text of a 215 page master's thesis by Brendan Greaves titled: "Dream the Rest" On the Mystery & Vernacular Modernism of Felipe Jesus Consalvos, Cubamerican "Cigarmaker, Creator, Healer & Man." available online. Greaves also wrote an essay "The Art of Being Disagreeable" included in the exhibition catalog published by the Fleischer/Ollman Gallery.

For Paula

I thought I would put this picture up for Paula of self-taught artist fame who is in "puzzle exile" in the hills of Vermont! I, too, live off the beaten path somewhat (there are no taxi cabs or bus lines in my town and the trains run only to haul sand and gravel) so I understand her situation.

Christmas Cactus

My Christmas Cactus plants are in full bloom. The one that sits in the alcove next to the shop door is happiest. It probably enjoys the fountain and the company of other plants.

Sneaking Up On Perfect

I've been in a funny sort of restless mood which I have learned to recognize as a need to immerse myself in art again. For the past five days or so I have been working on my Toad Hollow Minerals site and I've made pretty good progress there but my productivity has been dropping off which is a sign that I need to switch to another activity. Today is Monday so I am approaching my "weekend" as Anita's Beads is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I have a big table in the middle of the room which, right now, is covered with trays of beads. This evening, when the little hand hits 5 I will clear off the trays and start making a collage mess. I have my previously mentioned dedications to Neil Welliver and Lenny Bruce, in addition to assorted gems in the Archive of Indecision. Plus I have in mind a new series called Clothilde's Alphabet which will make use of some pages from that lovely French dictionary I recently found. And then there is the painting. I need to ease myself back into that as well.

I call the process "sneaking up on perfect." I turn the ringer off on the phone, put some Leonard Cohen on the CD player and start moving materials around, pretending that I am straightening up so that I don't scare myself into thinking I'm actually involving myself in the process of creating something important! Here are some works in progress:

The one above will be called: When Ravens Circled Over the Woods (For Neil). This next one below has been sitting around for ages. I keep changing the size of the board. This is the tightly cropped version but I'm thinking that the reason why I can't finish is because it needs a border of some sort. The four colored "stars" are test squares that I did in batik back in 1980.

And below is another one from the depths of the Archive of Indecision. I've lost my train of thought on this one! There are too many images here for one piece so I need to edit them down or maybe start thinking of this one in terms of a series.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Valerie's Got a Gun

Today I attended the artists' reception for The Art Group. First prize went to Charles Kartsonis of Lynn, Massachusetts for his collage (pictured above) titled "Valerie's Got a Gun." Valerie Solanas, a feminist writer, gained noteriety for shooting artist Andy Warhol in 1968.
Above is an installation shot. Sanbornville artist Dawn Rancourt's assemblage "The Future is Back" attracted a lot of attention, as did Norman Royle's mixed media "A Garden Palette".
Pictured above is Mabel Doyle's oil painting titled "Autumn Leaves. And the watercolor below titled "Homage to Malevich" was done by West Newfield artist Peter Abate. Peter organized the show. Thanks for all of your hard work, Peter! There are 35 pieces in all. I wish more of my photos came out but it was a difficult assignment to shoot with interior lights and windows reflecting off of the picture glass! So you will have to visit the Gafney Library in Sanbornville to see all these innovative works. "Constantly Risking Absurdity In The Realm of Abstraction" will be on display through December 5th.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Minerals as Art

I have spent the better part of two days photographing fossils and other minerals specimens to add to my Toad Hollow Minerals site. I'd like to do a mineral collage with some of the concretions, they are so beautiful. Pictured above is a pair from Utah, cut and polished. The fossil teeth, would make powerful focals in amuletic necklaces. The coprolite takes the prize for ugly, but makes a thoughtful gift for boys of a certain age!

I'd like to share the work of a couple of painters who have make minerals the subject of their art. Michigan artist Susan M. Robinson's acrylic of this candle-lit cave features a nice azurite/malachite specimen. Her vanadenite looks like strange flora from another planet. I also like the work of Leroy de Barde. Entirely self-taught, he was recognized as a virtuoso while still in his 20's. His Minerals in Crystalization, watercolor and gouache (1813), exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1817 and is in the collection of the Louvre Museum, Paris.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Save the Date

This Saturday (November 15th) is the artists' reception for The Art Group's abstract show "Constantly Risking Absurdity" at the Gafney Library featuring the work of 19 artists. The reception will be held from 11:00 to 2:00 and I hope to be there at least part of the time. Last Saturday was a busy one at Anita's Beads and I hate to be closed too long. With luck I'll be able to arrange for a friend to fill in at the shop for me. The library is less than a mile over the hill from here so come up to Wakefield, New Hampshire before the snow starts flying!

Vermeer and Glazing

One DVD that I find myself watching again and again is Girl with a Pearl Earring. The incredible artwork of Johannes Vermeer, the historical setting (Delft, Holland, 1665), and the sensitive performance of Scarlett Johansson make this film adaptation of a best-selling novel a winner for me. I especially enjoy the scenic shifts in color dominance from yellow to blue to scarlett. . . red making a perfect backdrop for the envious green of the wife's gowns! What brought Vermeer to mind this morning was Robert Genn's newsletter about glazing techniques. I tend to do a lot of glazing in my abstract acrylic paintings, and lately I have applied his technique to some of my collage work as well. The Atomist Confronts the Infinite Void is an example. I was interested to learn Genn's formula for his thin acrylic glazes: 5% pigment, 45% acrylic medium (gloss or matte) and 50% percent water. So far mine have consisted only of pigment and medium and, especially with the heat on, I have learned to work fast to avoid the clumpy mess that results from over-brushing. Vermeer was a master of the glazing technique.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Felipe Jesus Consalvos

I just received in today's mail a copy of the exhibition catalog: "Cigarmaker, Creator, Healer, & Man": the artwork of Felipe Jesus Consalvos published by the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery in 2005. It contains 29 full color plates (a few with detail views) and photos of the artist as a young man. In addition to masterful cigar stamped collages, there are also decorated objects including a typewriter, a dress form, a clock, a wastepaper basket, a chair (decorated with a skeleton), a guitar, a violin with case (and another skeleton, this one holding a bunch of "Great Seal" balloons cut from the back of dollar bills), a bureau, and a boat model.

Much of the work is quite large. One piece titled Foil Temple, featuring numerous postage stamps and architectural details, is just over 41x34 inches. Opium Eaters ("Make Your Ladies Happy") is one of the smallest at 7.5x11 inches. I would be hard-pressed to declare a favorite without further study of all of the intricate details, but Home of the Nature Freak and The School For Future Mothers (with a man sporting a "Souvenir World's Fair" phallus) are on the short list!

Leo Lionni and Eric Carle

I've been thinking more about children's literature and what an influence children's book illustrators have had on me. One of my favorite illustrators employing collage was Leo Lionni who created some memorable picture books including: Let's Make Rabbits! ("Let’s make rabbits,” says the scissors to the pencil. . . and I always did like the scissors' rabbit best!) and Little Blue and Little Yellow (dots. . !) Lionni also wrote and illustrated a rather surreal sounding book for adults called Parallel Botany which I only just learned about today. First published in Italy as La Botanica Parallela, this illustrated fictional work is presented as popular science outlining the oddities of an elusive, frequently invisible, and wholly imaginary plant kingdom that coexists with botany as we know it. Lionni's botanical drawings were shown at Lehman College Art Gallery (Bronx, NY) in 1990, and in curator Nina Castelli Sundell's insightful essay I learned that as an adolescent he showed his paintings with the futurists. His work for children can be seen at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass.

Eric Carle, perhaps most famous for his book The Very Hungry Catepillar, is another magical collage artist. His not-to-be-missed official web site includes photos of Carle in his studio (with flat-files of paper filed by color, paint on his sleeves and everything!) and video clips showing how he creates his pictures.

The Dot and The Line

Thinking about school filmstrips reminded me of one of my all-time favorite short films and books: "The Dot and The Line" by Norton Juster. I couldn't get enough of the animated version. As children's librarian in Topsfield, Mass. I frequently borrowed the 16mm film from the Boston Public Library to show as an after-school short-feature. I recently found a copy of the hardcover book at the dump. As soon as I saw it I realized it had been my first exposure to the collage technique. What a big influence it has made on my collage work!

Kurt Schwitters

"Kurt Schwitters: An In-depth Look at the Life and Works of the Great Master is indeed a satisfying view of the fascinating work of collage artist Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948). Aside from a few production issues which were tolerable, this is a pretty great educational DVD, compared to the old "Eye-Gate" filmstrips from my classroom days! The best thing was the art, of course, and seeing so many of Schwitter's collages and assemblages for the first time. There are lots of detail views along with interesting commentary. Just recalling it makes me want to purge my desk of clutter and try my hand at transforming the refuse into little gems like Schwitters!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Optic Nerve

I just received a copy of Joe Houston's book titled "Optic Nerve: Perceptual Art of the 1960's." The book was published in 2007 in conjunction with an exhibition at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. Pictured are the works of a number of forerunners: Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Wassily Kandinsky, Robert Delaunay, Paul Klee. (I've never seen the Delaunay painting, "Portuguese Woman" before and it's fantastic!) The link is to a slightly different version. The one in the book, from the collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, is better, in my opinion. The woman is looking towards the left a little more and her face shows more detail. And of course I like the dots!

All my favorite Op artists are here: Victor Vasarely, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Frank Stella, Bridget Riley, Tadasky (Tadasuke Kuwayama) and Ben Cunningham. And there are many others I haven't heard of. . . over sixty in all are listed in the Artists' Biographies section. The book measures 10x11 inches and contains numerous full page color illustrations, as well as '60's cover art from Vogue, Life and Look. Online you can see some beautiful Tadasky targets and Anuszkiewicz squares as part of the "Optic Visionaries" show at D. Wigmore in NYC.

Mauritanian Conus Shell

The latest issue of Ornament magazine (Vol. 32 No. 1) contains an article by editor Robert K. Liu titled: "Mauritanian Conus Shell Disks: A Comparison of Ancient and Ethnographic Ornaments." An important attribute of these shells from the marine gastropod Conus is the amuletic power to promote fertility. A bibliography of three dozen or so references concludes the article.

Clothilde's Dictionary

Yesterday I found a wonderful old French dictionary that could have belonged to my great-grandmother, Clothilde Simoneau (1877-1950). The little illustrations are marvelous and there are lovely chapter headings for every letter of the alphabet, plus some color plates and full page diagrams. The back cover is missing but the front cover was still attached and it is a thing of beauty!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Collage Progress Report

OK, Excuse No. 5 is this blog. It has become the index to all my projects. Toad Hollow Minerals is up on the web at my old bead site with links to Botanical Information on Aromatic Herbs and Essential Oils. "About Stones" is back and I'm in the process of photographing fossils and crystals from the shop. (Anita's Beads and the Jewelry pages need major work as well) . . . so as far as collage work is concerned, I have one major piece dedicated to Neil Welliver which could be done in an afternoon if I applied myself. (I'd rather tempt the cats with the pieces a little longer!) And perhaps a triptych to Lenny Bruce with a great book cover or two and something else very cool. No excuse not to be working on that one. And then there is my Archive of Indecision. Some potentially great stuff in there including two for my Tits series, and Feng Shui Mishap No.23 with a beautiful oriental ginger jar and my favorite orange paper that looks like silk. Used as a dot on The Atomist (Study No.2) above where the intensity of the orange has been diminished somewhat by the purple behind it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'm Not There Yet

Last night I started watching the second of my new DVDs: "I'm not There." I wanted to view this mainly because I had heard about Cate Blanchett's eerie performance as Bob Dylan. I didn't know that so many other actors also portrayed Dylan in this film. The music was great, and it was interesting to travel back to the '60's and early '70's of my youth. But I was too tired to get more than half way through so I will reserve my final opinion for a later date. The film was a New York Times Critic's Pick and Wikipedia provides an in-depth article on Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) if you want to reminisce about his songs and artistic achievements. I wish I still had a turntable!

...(one day later) Cate Blanchett is absolutely amazing. I'm starting to think that this is a really great movie although I still haven't seen it through to the end. It's a collage, really... of charachers, of images. Director Todd Haynes also did Far From Heaven starring Julianne Moore (who also plays a friend of Dylan) and if you want to digress, here's an ArtForum article that I found interesting. It discusses the director's use of color in Far From Heaven, and his skill is very evident in I'm Not There... like watching old news clips and looking at color-shifted photos from the 60's.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Artist and Her Cat

Here I am dressed in dots with my surrogate cat. It is one of those awful fakes made of rabbit fur adorned with little pink felt ears. Back then I was denied a real one so I made do. Today I share my life with two wonderful live ones: Miss Pearl (age 12) and Mica (age 5). Last night I was talking with a new friend about cats and their energy and I tried to describe the painting by surrealist Remedios Varo (couldn't for the life of me recall her name!) called "Sympathy." I'd like to paint my own version of Varo's work (originally titled "The Madness of the Cat") picturing myself and Mica. A few years back, I did a collage of my grandmother Blanche and her cat Mickey (shown below). Poor cat probably hated me as a young child. I was always trying to get him to sit on my lap! For more about Varo, Into the Mystic - Surrealist Painter Remedios Varo is a lengthy article, originally published in the April 2001 issue of Art in America, that you can read online. And I recommend the book "Remedios Varo: Unexpected Journeys" by Janet A Kaplan for an in-depth story of her live and art. The illustrations are fantastic!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Movie Time

I live in a small town, miles from any movie theater. (My house is down in a swampy valley just about a half mile away on the other side of the hill shown in the the picture above.) Also, I don't have a television. So, what do I do for entertainment, you might wonder. Watch DVD's! And I just got five new ones in the mail this afternoon: The Rape of Europa; Kurt Schwitters; I'm Not There; Crimes of the Heart; and Issue 6 of Indie Arts: The DVD Magazine. So this will be short... I'm off to the movies!

...(one day later) The one I picked to watch last night was the only one of the bunch that I have seen before: Crimes of the Heart. Diane Keaton, Sissy Spacek and Jessica Lange are the Magrath sisters. Based on a Pulitzer Prize play by Beth Henley, the dialog is riveting, tragic and hilarious. Love the architectural details of their victorian southern house. I most identified with the oldest sister, Lenny (played by Diane Keaton). Must be her wardrobe which could have come straight from my closet!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Feng Shui Mishaps at the Library

Two of my latest pieces, both combinations of collage and acrylic painting, are part of "The Art Group" show now through December 5th at the Gafney Library. They are spin-offs (I'm not sure if I actually like that term) of one of my earliest collages, "Feng Shui Mishap No. 20" . The first, "Feng Shui Mishap No. 665" (8x10 inches) is pictured above. It was done more or less as a study. I figured I'd start with a little corner first, and if that worked out OK, I'd go for the whole thing.

The second piece (16x20 inches) is called "Avaricious Transgressor (Feng Shui Mishap No. 666)". I have to admit that I surprised myself with this one, and although that big red cross in the middle started feeling like a big mistake, by the time I finished I was glad I kept it there. I went slowly, learned a lot in the process, and even managed to sneak in a few dots!

Re: Messages and Magic

Yes, I'm thinking most definately a bride!

Messages & Magic

American Art Review (Vol. XX No. 6 2008) was in my mailbox today and that's where I read about the show titled "Messages & Magic: 100 Years of Collage and Assemblage in American Art" on view through January 25, 2009 at the Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan Wisconsin. The article is illustrated by a photo of a collage by Felipe Jesus Consalvos. The collage is titled: "Search for Understanding." It has a beautiful cigar band boarder framing an old sepia-toned photograph of a woman in a white dress... a nurse one might conclude from the anatomical bust (added by the artist) sitting on a table to her left. On closer inspection she looks more like a bride with a veil, but it's hard to tell for sure. Her face is obscured by a pasted-on fox head. There is a man in his underwear about to do a hand-stand in front of her and he's wearing the ubiquitous head of George Washington cut from a dollar bill. Felipe Jesus Consalvos was born in Cuba in 1891 and died in Philadelphia. You can best see his work at the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery in that same city.