The Collage Experience at the Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie, NY

I belong to an artist’s collective called the Power of 13. We are 13 mid-career artists who meet informally once a month or every 6 weeks to chat and catch up on what we’re doing in the arts. We are painters (contemporary and traditional), printmakers, a fine art photographer, mixed media artists, and sculptors. We network, share tips, critique works in progress, and look for exciting places to see contemporary art and show our works as a group. We have a lot to share – and that is what is so exciting about being part of the group.

I’m a contemporary collage artist and tend to see everything in terms of collage and installation.

 

Nikkal, Curvy Geo Stretch

The image nearby is a new collage I created titled Curvy Geo Stretch. It’s done with black and white painted papers and is framed and 14×14 inches. I call it Stretch because of the light black shapes that shift to the left – or to the right, depending on the way you want to see it.  My collage is hanging above a 5-foot wide marble fireplace in the 1st gallery at the Barrett Art Center. Sitting nearby on the mantle is a classical 26 inch high bronze sculpture of a violin. On 2 adjacent walls are various paintings and  collages. The installation is a fascinating juxtaposition of old and new – art and architecture – and the mix of works by 6 members in the group. There are 64 works by 13 artists in the exhibition, including paintings, collage, mixed media, sculpture, photography, printmaking and drawing. We are so pleased to have the opportunity to show works by the Power of 13 Collective at the Barrett Art Center.

Penny Dell curated and organized this show. I helped Penny install everything. It took us more than 2 days. All the individual works show well together, and the collective spirit is strong.

 

The opening reception was April 22. If you are in Dutchess County on Saturday, May 20th, please come to the closing reception at 55 Noxon Street, Poughkeepsie, from 2-4 pm. Read about the Barrett Art Center: http://www.barrettartcenter.org

 

Edna Dagan sculpture

 

The 2nd image at left is a close up view of Edna Dagan’s sculpture with my grid collages in the background. Both are installed in the front gallery at the Barrett Art Center. In Edna’s sculpture, you see a cherub and part of a violin. This work is about 26 inches tall. Edna has 4 sculptures in the exhibition, and all are about music with a violin done in cast metal. My 2 collages are painted papers on paper. Framed sizes are 32×28 inches. I especially like the close up photo of the sculpture juxtaposed with the slightly out of focus view of my grid collages.

 

 

 

 

 

The Barrett Art Center

The image nearby shows the Barrett Art Center. Image is courtesy of their website. The building is narrow and long with 2 galleries, meeting room, office and kitchen on the 1st floor, and more galleries and classroom spaces on upper floors. The building is named for Thomas W. Barrett, Jr. who was born in Poughkeepsie, NY on 9/12/1902 and was an artist interested in the social and the societal value of art. He formed the Dutchess County Art Association, mounting exhibitions for local artists, giving them a means of showing and selling their work during the Depression era. He studied art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and worked as an artist in NYC. He returned to Poughkeepsie in 1929, and moved back into the current Barrett House where he was born.

 

2nd gallery view

In the image at left, I’m standing in the doorway in the 2nd gallery space with a view of the hallway behind me. Penny took the photo the day we installed the art. Notice that the space is relatively small and there’s a lot of art to see. It doesn’t seem crowded because the ceilings are high – and that makes you feel you’re in a larger space. In this photo, you see 5 small mixed media works by Alice Harrison hung vertically on the left. On the short wall to the left of the doorway is a mixed media painting in pink and green acrylic by Ruth Bauer Neustadter. Above the painting are several wall-mounted wire and hand-made paper sculptures by Penny Dell that skip across the wall left to right above and across the ornate doorframe behind me. Penny’s wire sculptures are light and etherial, yet fill the space and create a special kind of energy. They’re white on a white wall, but cast shadows and draw your eye upward. Notice the top wood blocks on the doorframe with carved acanthus leaves. Notice, on the right – a funky green mixed media sculpture by Susan Lisbin perched on a white wood pedestal and, on the back wall are 3 more works by Susan, including a color-field skinny abstract in green painted on found sheet metal. Once again, you see the juxtaposition of contemporary art, greens and reds, blacks and whites with vintage architecture.

 

Penny Dell wrote:

…Seeing the show allows viewers an opportunity to puzzle out connections between works and artists who through the years have continued to meet regularly. Read more of Penny’s comments about the collective and the exhibition here:

 

Hallway installation

 

 

The image at left shows me in the front hallway at the Barrett Art Center (photo by Penny Dell). I’m standing below and she’s standing at the top of the stairs – looking down at me. The image shows the art installed on both sides of the narrow hallway. Notice the antique floors – wide plank old wood – and, in the top left portion of the photo you can see the decorative carved wood trim on the 2nd floor landing. I’m a big fan of the details you find in older homes. This one was build in 1842. We were told to hang art on the staircase wall because there would be a constant flow of traffic up the stairs to a second floor gallery and classroom studios. It was a challenge to get the last pieces hung so high up the staircase, but all the works hang well together in the hallway and add another dimension to the exhibition.

 

 

Crowded hallway at the reception for Power of 13

 

 

Here’s another image of the hallway installation, taken during the April 22nd opening reception. Notice the beautiful Victorian light fixture (in addition to the track lighting), and notice the high ceiling in relation to the people. The woman standing on the left is over 5’10” tall.

 

 

 

 

Photography by Pauline Chernichaw

 

Here is a view showing contemporary photography by Pauline Chernichaw in the 1st room gallery with a view to the front hallway exhibition beyond. I think the black and white photos show really well on either side of the doorway. Do you agree? I love the contrast of the horizontal format of the photos – sleek and contemporary – with the vertical door opening and with the color of the woodwork and ornate trim on it. In this photo, the paint trim color looks oyster grey and picks up on the grey tones in Pauline’s photos. However, in hanging these works, I was more concerned with contrasting horizontals and verticals.

 

 

Susan Sinek and her painting

 

 

The image nearby shows Susan Sinek and her figure painting in the 2nd room gallery. If you could see the works on the wall Susan is facing, you would see her prints and figure drawings.

 

I hope you can visit the exhibition and see all the works.

 

 

 

 

About the Power of an Art Collective

The Power of 13 collective has been meeting for years in each other’s homes and studios. Many artist groups (collectives) are larger than we are. Some are smaller. We started the group with 9 (and called ourselves the Power of 9) and then added more members, so changed our name in steps to the Power of 13. We think 13 members is about as big as we want to be.

We are like almost all artist groups in that we are organized to share tips, critique art works and network information. Some groups limit members to a professional category, typically architects, graphic designers, painters or printmakers. We prefer to be informal and friendly. We like the idea of sharing information across media boundaries. We are serious artists. We always share great food and conversation.

We thank Penny Dell for contacting the Barrett Art Center and organizing our group exhibition. Read more about Thomas W. Barrett here:

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Do you want to meet other artists? Do you want to be part of an artist’s group? If you do, I recommend you check out local art centers, colleges and universities. Go to art receptions. Attend public meetings with artists who speak about their work. If possible, take a class to meet other artists. Ask people how to join a group. Many Chambers of Commerce and arts councils list arts associations. Check out artists’ groups online.

I hope you think the history of the Barrett Art Center is interesting. The Power of 13 collective thanks the Center for this opportunity to exhibit in a unique and beautiful space.

Please write and tell me how you are engaged with the arts. Email me if you want suggestions for how to form an artist’s collective. Thank you for your comments.

Nancy

In my last post, I wrote about the opening reception and an upcoming event (annual benefit) Signed Sealed and Delivered (Saturday, October 5, 2013) – all at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, CT.

The current galleries have 2 solo shows and 2 group shows (September 15-October 26, 2013) with a lot of installation art. It’s so contemporary. The works are exquisitely presented – so typical for Silvermine gallery exhibitions. My last post included images at the gallery receptions.

Silvermine Arts Center is located at 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan, CT.  The exhibits run from September 15, 2013 through October 26, 2013.  Gallery hours: Wednesday-Saturday: 12pm-5pm, Sunday: 1pm-5pm. For more information about exhibitions, call 203.966.9700 or visit the Silvermine Art Center website.

Gallery view, 10"x10" art

Gallery view, 10″x10″ art

I think installation is contemporary art –  and what makes it most contemporary is that, whether we know it or not, we are all part of the show.  If the installation is participatory, we are encouraged to walk into the space, even touch and move elements in the exhibition.

The image nearby shows a contemporary installation with 10″x10″ works on wood panels, hung in parallel horizontal rows around the gallery space. It’s a preview for Signed Sealed and Delivered at Silvermine Art Center on Saturday evening October 5, 2013 (5:00-7:00 pm).

Question: Is my photo about the people looking at the art – or is the photo about the art? I think the former. In any case, the viewers were engaged. There were a lot of people looking at the art during the reception. This photo shows only two. If I took the photo with more people looking at the art, you wouldn’t even see the art. That’s what happens at a crowded reception. It’s exciting to be there, but you don’t see the art well, so you have to return for a better view at a quieter time.

Here’s a pitch to support the arts: Purchase tickets online for the October 5th Silvermine Arts Center wine & hors d’oeuvres party. Tickets are $35 per person – and new this year – the show and sale includes 10″x10″ original works on panel in addition to 100s of 4”x6” works of 2D and 3D art. Buy smaller 4″x6″ art for $50 each. Buy 3 small works, you get the 4th free.

Add $100 to your $35 ticket and choose a 10”x10” original work of art, average value is $300 that will be raffled during the evening. Preview the raffle collection at Silvermine (thru October 3). See works online.  The Saturday evening gala event is always well attended. Order your tickets before they are sold out.

I donated artwork: one work (titled Cellblock) is part of the 10″x10″ raffle. It’s a white and black collage, made with papers wrapped and glued over recycled 35 mm transparencies. See it at the gallery preview (thru October 3rd). Four of my 4″x6″ collages will be for sale (see images below).

Installation Art Makes Us See in a New Way

Beyond the Book installation view

Beyond the Book installation view

The image nearby is a view of  Beyond the Book I took at Silvermine Art Center a few days after the opening receptions. I went back to get images of the art without people. I wanted to show you how I see the art installed. Notice the horizontals and diagonals in the photo. Notice the forms projecting in space and the angles between.

That’s the way we see the whole picture. We think we are looking at one work, but in reality (the way the brain works) we are looking at everything at the same time. It all has to work together or the installation will look wrong.

Looking involves moving. As we move to get closer, and as we step back, the whole picture changes based on “sight lines.” Objects that have a direct line of sight with one another are said to be inter-visible.

We don’t just look straight ahead or move our eyes across and around the site. We may look up (how high are the works placed in relation to the floor and the ceiling?). Some installation works literally climb up the wall. In fact, that’s the way we see the exquisite installation by Amy Bilden in her current Silvermine solo exhibition titled Inheritance.

In the image above (the installation shows works by Sheila Hale and Stephanie Joyce), Sheila’s book sculpture is viewed by looking up and down. You have to see it in motion. But, your eyes are doing the moving.

Installation for a Lot of Small Works

Signed Sealed and Delivered, 2012

Signed Sealed and Delivered, 2012

The image nearby is the installation for Signed Sealed and Delivered (2012). You can see how many works are included. When you arrive, your eyes scan the entire arrangement of 2D and 3D works installed in rows.

The images below are my 4 small collages created for the gala fundraiser this October. Each is a unique work, made with tiny pieces of cut and pasted magazine papers and over-layered tiny pieces of thin, translucent white Japanese rice paper. The layered rice papers created geometric shapes and outlines in different shades of white, depending on how many paper layers I used.

I hope you can come see them in person on October 5th. They will be placed in different locations in the exhibition space, included with small works by many other Silvermine artists.The images below show how I Iayered the collage papers. Layering is an expression of how I see.

nikkal, collage 1, 2013

Nikkal, collage, 2013

Nikkal, collage, 2013

Nikkal, collage, 2013

Nikkal, collage, 2013

Nikkal, collage, 2013

Nikkal, collage 2013

Nikkal, collage 2013

Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your comments. I like to think about how we see art, and about how we see everything.  The picture is always moving – it’s a view from a moving object: you in the car, train or plane; a view of moving people and ojbects: people on cars, bicycles, skates. It’s a moving image: a movie, TV, a video online, you at a sports event (in the stands, on the field), you at the  theater, or people moving as we take in the view.

We live in a super-saturated visual environment. Images are non-stop. I say it’s a cut and paste world filled with images. We put all the images together. We complete the image. It’s all a collage.

Please tell me your thoughts. Do you have a special insight about how we see? I hope you will share.