The Abundance of Images

December 13, 2017

 

I live in Metro NYC and see a lot of contemporary art. I also find images online. You can too. The Internet is a great resource for information and images.

Yayoi Kusama flower painting

The image above is a flower painting by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (born 1929). Notice the colors are red, green yellow, black and blue. It’s a stylized flower with stem and leaves and a crackle-texture black on red background. Notice the detail and pattern. You may think it looks like a simple flower painting, but probably also think it is very appealing.

Kusama is known for obsessive, dot-covered art and pumpkin motifs, as well as the use of mirrors to create mystical “Infinity Rooms.” The image below shows the artist in a saffron orange and black polka dot dress sitting on the edge of a platform installation with walls and floors in the same color and polka dot design with a pumpkin sculpture behind her in the same colors and design. The artist is part of the installation. The image was reproduced in an Artsy article titled The Top 14 Living Artists of 2014 and was taken at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (2010). I have the image, on a Pinterest Board titled Yayoi Kusama. I have 117 pins that show Kusama and her art. It is the most popular board of all (image of Yayoi Kusama courtesy Artsy, published January 18, 2015).

Yayoi Kusama in front of her pumpkin sculpture

Kusama says “My artwork is an expression of my life, particularly of my mental disease.” She has been plagued by mental illness and hallucinations since childhood. She uses her hallucinations and mental illness as material to stimulate an incredible artistic output in every discipline. Her colors and patterns are opulent and decorative. At the age of 88, Kusama is one of the most unique and famous contemporary female artists alive today. Her works include paintings, sculpture, photography, installation, performance and Conceptual art. She lives in a mental hospital in Japan and works every day in a nearby studio.

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors at the Hirschhorn Museum

The image above is a view of Infinity Mirrors, originally at the Hirschhorn Museum, Washington, DC. Read about Infinity Mirrors. The show is currently at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, CA (closes Jan 1, 2018) and will travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (March 3-May 27, 2018), the Cleveland Museum of Art (July 9-Sept 30, 2018) and finally to the High Museum of Art (Nov 18, 2018 – Feb 17, 2019).

There are plans to build a museum for Yayoi Kusama’s art in Japan this coming year. Read more about Yayoi Kusama life and art here.

 

CONNECTIONS

In a previous post, titled Connections, I wrote about an art project I organized and took to Albuquerque, NM in September 2017. The project included 21 mixed media collages by regional members of the Society of Layerists in Multi Media (SLMM). I am a regional coordinator for the Society.

I got email from Sharon Eley. She is a Midwest regional SLMM member and participated in the SLMM group exhibition I organized. She asked me to edit the post because I didn’t mention that her twin sister, Shirley Nachtrieb, was the person responsible for an exhibition I mentioned in the post. Shirley is the regional coordinator for the South Central SLMM membership. I edited the post and gave Shirley credit.

I was curious to see Shirley’s art and visited her website. She is an amazing watercolor artist. I saw flower images and it made me think about writing this post to show (and share) the images of Yayoi Kusama’s art and include images of flower collages by my students at the Pelham Art Center. See the images below. The student collages don’t look like Kusama’s flower paintings. They’re interpretive and personal. They are collage paintings because they include cut and pasted flower images  (from flower magazines) and painted papers on a painted and embellished  Bristol paper substrate. My students loved the flower collage project because it included so much mixed media. But, they also love other collage projects we do. Not everything is a flower.

 

Lynn Evansohn Flower Collage

Lynn Evansohn did the collage above. The flowers are cut from a botanical catalog I brought to class. Some of the papers are painted. Lynn painted the background with black acrylic and etched spiral twirls into the wet paint. The vase is all paper collage. Notice Lynn cut and pasted green painted paper dots at the bottom edge. I remember she said it was a tribute to the polka dots in Yayoi Kusama’s work.

Patty Towle did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic embellished it with tiny dots of various colored painted papers. The flowers and stems are cut and pasted decorative papers. Some flower petals have polka dots. She cut flowers and leaves from images in a flower catalog. Notice the dots that decorate the blue vase. Notice  the blue painted paper tiles Patty used to create the table, and notice the black spaces in between. The design mimics the black on red in Kusama’s flower painting seen above.

 

Patricia Towle Flower Collage

 

Mimi Wohlberg Flower Collage

Mimi Wohlberg did the collage above. She painted the background with black acrylic and embellished the surface with dots and circles. She painted the flower papers and stamped them with more dots. Notice the stem and leaves are cut from patterned green painted papers. The design is layered and all the pieces overlap with a sense of dimension.

Sylvia Lien did the collage below. Notice the landscape imagery behind the cut and pasted flower in a vase. Sylvia was inspired to create a collage that quoted a Kusama flower sculpture in a landscape setting. Notice how Sylvia’s flower petals and leaves are made with various papers from a flower catalog. Notice the flower stem. Sylvia cut and pasted yellow painted papers to shape a curved stem. I like the vase. It’s a simple rectangle shape, cut from a page in a flower catalog. This collage juxtaposes decorative papers and photo images to create abstract and natural elements.

Sylvia Lien Flower Collage

Sandra Graciadei did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic and  etched the open dot design into the wet paint. The vase was cut and pasted from a  magazine image found in ArtForum. Sandra painted papers for the leaves in the vase. The tiny flowers are cut from a flower catalog. Notice how Sandra fitted all the leaves and flower stems into the vase and how the flower stems extend beyond the edge of the black painted background. Notice how the stems mimic the width and abundance of the lines in the design on the vase. Details!

Sandra Graciadei Flower Collage

Estelle Laska did the collage below. Her collage is an interpretive quote of a  Kusama flower sculpture in an outdoor setting. Estelle painted the collage background with blue acrylic and used a palette knife to build texture as she painted. Her leaves and flowers are large papers cut from a flower catalog. Estelle added red and green painted paper polka dots to a rich golden yellow leaf shape at the bottom. Notice how the leaves extend beyond the borders of the painted background.

Estelle Laska Flower Collage

Harriet Goldberg did the collage below. She painted the background in black and green and added yellow and green polka dots. The yellow dots are press-on papers you find in stationery stores. The flowers are cut and pasted from painted papers and images from a flower catalog. The vase is decorative paper with dots. Notice how the flowers extend beyond the painted background. See all the patterns, colors  and layered papers. This collage is a riot of dots and definitely Kusama-inspired!

Harriet Goldberg Flower Collage

Leslie Cowen did the collage below. She painted the background with acrylic in blues and greens. There is a sense of diagonal movement as well as decoration. She etched into the paint with a palette knife. The large pink flower at the top extends beyond the painted background. Leslie cut and pasted her papers to make the flower image look dimensional and realistic. Some of the leaves and flowers are created with painted papers and some are images cut from a flower catalog. Realistic and abstract imagery is juxtaposed in this design. Notice how the leaves also extend beyond the edge of the painted background.

Leslie Cowen Flower Collage

Ilene Bellovin did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic and created her flowers with papers from a flower catalog. Notice the variations in color in the pink, yellow, red and violet flower petals. Ilene created the leaves with green painted papers. This collage is almost realistic. The flowers are cut and pasted papers arranged like a beautiful bouquet.

Ilene Bellovin Flower Collage

My students include adults at all skill levels. Beginners quickly become highly skilled collage makers. We work with fine art papers, everyday media, art magazines, including ArtForum, postcards and found papers. We embellish collage with drawing. We paint papers.

The flower collage project is a favorite. We’ve done it more than once. All the flower collages above include painting and mixed media collage on 14″ x 11″ Bristol paper substrate.

Sometimes I get resistance to projects that quote a famous artist. I argue that there is no way anyone can copy. Everything is an interpretation. And, more important, the process is an exercise that teaches you how to look carefully and study what you see. You notice colors, relationships, scale, proportion, and other design elements.

Question for YOU: Can you be inspired by an artist and make collage that quotes but doesn’t copy? Send me your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Several people commented about my recent post Duality at the Islip Art Museum, where I am showing a two-panel abstract diptych in blue, black, white, green and gold ochre. See the image below. I submitted two images as digital files for review for this show. Scott Bluedorn was the juror who selected works in the exhibition. He is a long Island artist. His studio practice includes painting, drawing, collage, assemblage, installation, photography and cyanotype. He makes collages that are futuristic and Surrealistic.The exhibition is titled Duality: Glimpses of the Other Side and continues to September 17, 2017. Visit the Islip Art Museum, located at 50 Irish Lane, East Islip, NY on Long Island. Gallery hours are Th/F 10-4 and S/S 12-4.

 

nikkal, Blue Triangle Diptych

 

Blue Triangle Diptych is geometric abstraction in two parts (a diptych), 24 inches tall and 32 inches wide. The triangles are in different media and are arranged in a different pattern on each panel. One panel (on the left) is a collage made with painted papers. Every blue and black triangle is cut and pasted paper. One panel (on the right) is an acrylic painting. The paint is layered and I used tape to get sharp lines.

 

nikkal, Blue and White Triangle diptych

The 2nd entry, seen nearby, was not accepted for the exhibition. It’s a diptych and all collage on two panels and made with blue and white painted papers arranged as triangles. I love the range of blue and soft green and white in the painted papers. I prefer this triangle diptych, but was happy the juror accepted one work for the exhibition. It made me wonder how he made his decision. One of the comments to the post came from Karen Rand Anderson, an artist who lives and works in Rhode Island. She writes a blog, She said she liked the blue and white diptych better than the one the juror selected. I told her I agreed, but said I assumed the juror wanted to see juxtaposition, per the exhibition title, and the piece he selected has more dialogue going on. Maybe I was wrong.

The jury process is subjective

Here’s a little information about how it works – and it’s important to understand the process is a crapshoot. You can never assume any work will be accepted – unless the show is an invitational and the juror (curator) tells you he/she wants a specific piece. By definition, an invitational is never a juried show. Artists enter juried exhibitions all the time for different reasons, sometimes for prize money and also to build their resume. The typical juried show includes one juror who looks at digital image files for every work submitted and selects the works. Typically the juror is a professional artist or gallerist, sometimes a prominent art critic, and sometimes an artist with a regional, national or international exhibition reputation. What gets selected into the exhibition is his/her decision. Sometimes the works are selected first by image file review and then by direct visual inspection to make sure the work is the same as the image file.

I typically do not enter juried shows. I wrote that I entered this show because the exhibition title: Duality: Glimpses of the Other Side was intriguing. My work is abstract and not narrative. My new studio focus is about duality and the serendipity of mismatched twins. I see diptychs as fraternal twins. I like the concept that twins can be the same and also different. Even identical twins can be different (if they try). It takes looking to see how they are different. I intend to focus on diptychs.

Recently I interviewed two jurors about the process of how they select works for an exhibition.

 

The juror looks for strong works

I emailed Susan Hoeltzel, the juror for an annual show at the Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings on Hudson, NY titled PaperWorks (June 22-July 23, 2017). I am a member of this artist-run gallery and helped hang (install) the exhibition that includes a large and beautiful array of paintings, drawings, 3D sculpture and other works on paper submitted by local and regional artists. Gallery members do not enter or show work in this exhibition. The juror came to the gallery to see the exhibition after it was installed. I didn’t meet her and emailed her to ask how she selected the works for the show. I told her that gallery members were very pleased with the works she selected. I did not tell her I helped install the show. She replied: Thank you – I also think the exhibition looks great and extend my congratulations to the people who installed the show (It’s not that easy to hang a group show and the people who installed this one were sensitive to the transitions between the works, making it visually pleasing and leading the viewer from one work to the next.) I took that as a compliment. She wrote: In choosing the work, I was simply looking for strong work that represented a broad range of approaches – style, content, media, etc. She added she was working without information about dimensions, so was trying to make sure not too many works were selected for the space. It’s a big space and there are a lot of works to see.

Susan Hoeltzel is the former director of the Lehman College Art Gallery, City College of New York. Susan has exhibited her mixed media drawings on canvas nationally and internationally. Her works explore objects and the meaning we construct around them – about illusion and what we infer from the flat, two-dimensional surface of the work. Her most recent series deals with plants, particularly invasive species.

 

The juror picks what he likes

I spoke with the artist and educator Stuart Shils in person July 15 at the opening reception for the 9th National Juried Exhibition at the Prince Street Gallery, 530 West 25 Street, NY, NY (July 11-29, 2017).

 

nikkal at Prince St. Gallery

The image nearby is me standing in front of my collage titled Amok at the Prince Street Gallery opening on July 15. I submitted 3 entries that are part of a new series titled Curvy Geometric. Amok was accepted, seen here on the wall above another framed work.  Amok is made with painted papers, magazine text and  tan Washi papers with thin bamboo sticks. The Washi papers add a transparent layer. I’m a layerist. This framed work is 18 inches by 17 inches I was pleased that it was installed in the gallery on a small wall with only 4 works. There were about 50 works in the show, mostly small in size, mostly paintings.

I met the juror at the reception and complimented him on the exhibition he selected. I asked him to tell me how he chose. He said he picked what he liked. Simple. The show includes 45 artists. He said he rejected about 300 entries – that means 1 out of 7 artists was accepted. I said I was surprised to see so many semi-abstract and abstract paintings in the show. I checked Shils’ website before I entered the Prince Street Gallery juried show and basically entered because the juror’s works look like abstract paper collage. I asked Shils to tell me about his paper works. His answer surprised me. He said his work is not really collage. He said he puts papers together and then disassembles the work after he takes a photo. The product is the photo. It’s a collage concept. I did not ask if the photo is material or immaterial.

See works by Stuart Shils online, including window collages, painting, monotypes, drawing, photography, video and a book with his photographs titled “because I have no interest in those questions…” (Sold out).

 

The juror picks the art and creates the show

I remember a comment I heard many years ago about juried shows in a seminar led by the artist Kay WalkingStick. She is an American Artist and one of today’s most accomplished Native American contemporary landscape painters.

She basically said – don’t be upset if your work is not selected in a juried show. In some cases your work doesn’t fit the concept the juror intends. In some cases, the other works submitted are so different from what you submit that your work will look like it doesn’t belong in the show and that’s why it’s not accepted. She added: in some cases your work is so much better than all the rest that it can’t be included because all the others will look terrible in comparison. AND there are probably other reasons. Try to be positive.

Maybe the juror doesn’t like your work. Don’t take it personally.

Please add your comments. Tell me if you’ve been a juror and how you made your decisions. If you’re an artist, tell me if you enter juried shows. Tell me if you love or hate the process. Share what you know.