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:


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:



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.



I am writing about the art reception last Sunday at Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, CT. The exhibitions include contemporary and installation art. There are two solo shows and a group exhibition in the main galleries. All the exhibitions are September 15 – October 26, 2013. Gallery hours are Wed. to Sat., 12-5 and Sun. 1-5. See directions…

In addition to the gallery exhibitions, there is a special preview exhibit with 10″ x10″ works in a range of 2D and 3D media by Guild artists. The works  will be part of a raffle on Saturday, October 5, 2013 (5:00-7:00 pm) at the annual Signed Sealed and Delivered collector’s party to benefit the Silvermine Arts Center.

I invite you to visit Silvermine Arts Center and see the current exhibitions in person. Every gallery installation is worth seeing.

I invite you to purchase tickets and attend Signed Sealed and Delivered on October 5th. The walls in Sara Victoria Hall auditorium at Silvermine will be installed with hundreds of original small 4″ x6″ works tacked to the wall, all ready for you to purchase. Works are 2D and 3D. Plan to attend. The art is very affordable. It’s a great party.  Purchase tickets now. Read more…

Kerry, Nancy, Claudia, Stephanie and Shiela

Kerry, Nancy, Claudia, Stephanie and Shiela

The image above was taken on Sunday at the opening reception. I am with 4 artists who are part of the group exhibition titled Beyond the Book. The artists above are from left to right, Kerry Brock, me, Claudia Mengel, Stephanie Joyce and Shiela Hall. See some of the art behind the group.

Contemporary art = installation art.

Every gallery included installation art. The people interacted with the art – walking around and through, touching, reading and talking.

Today, we are all part of the show. That’s the way we want to experience art events.

When I visit museums and galleries, I study how the art is installed and how people are viewing the exhibition. I watch the people.  I always find that the experience is like multi-media collage. I look at people who look at art, and they look at me. The art experience is about people, images and the way the exhibitions are put together.  It’s all a collage.  Do you agree?

Christine Aarons, Liminal States

Christine Aarons, installation for Liminal States

The image above is a view of the gallery installation for Christine Aaron’s solo exhibition Liminal States: Beneath the Surface, a solo exhibition at the Silvermine Art Center (September  15 to October 26, 2012). Photo courtesy Robin Axness, Silvermine Arts Center.

Christine Aaron’s studio practice focuses on themes of memory, loss and the passage of time. Images of trees (some are real) serve as a metaphor for the cycle of life. Read more…

Shiela Hale, Book and Table

Shiela Hale, Book and Table

The image above is Shiela Hale at the Beyond the Book exhibition on Sunday at Silvermine Arts Center.  The 7 artists in the group include: Kerry Brock, Shiela, Barbara Harder, Stephanie Joyce, Elisa Khachian, Claudia Mengel, and Susan Newbold.

The concept for Beyond the Book asks us to question what a book can be and how you experience it. The exhibit includes paintings, prints, drawings, books as sculpture and furniture.  Read more…

 Shiela is standing next to her book (sculpture) on her table. She creates elegant, minimal artworks (drawings and prints), and books that are sculpture and contemporary commentary. All the small tables in the Beyond the Book installation were designed by Shiela Hale and fabricated according to her new patent.  Photo courtesy, Robin Axness, Silvermine Arts Center. Read a review about Shiela Hale’s  patented furniture design.
Amy Bilden, Timeline 1, 2012

Amy Bilden, Timeline 1, 2012

Amy Bilden’s solo exhibition titled “Inheritance” includes tactile domestic-inspired sculptures that, according to the artist,  map emotional and physical space. The image above is titled Timeline 1 (2012), yarn and personal objects. Image, the Internet.

Bilden’s installation includes paper sculpture that hugs the top of the gallery walls.  The elements are individual fragile folded papers, but the mass effect assumes power in space. Viewers looked closely at the multiple parts that make the whole.

See more images. Read more about the artist…

Nancy Nikkal, paper collage

Nancy Nikkal, paper collage

The image above is me standing next to my black and white collage titled Cell Block. It’s layered paper over 35 mm transparencies on 10″x10″ wood panel. I created the work for Signed Sealed & Delivered at Silvermine Arts Center on Saturday, October 5, 2013.

The image below is a view of gallery walls with donated 10″x10″ works for Signed Sealed & Delivered. See images online.

Gallery view, 10"x10" art

Gallery view, 10″x10″ art

I hope you enjoyed the art scene at Silvermine Arts Center with this online tour. I hope you know it’s always better to see the art in person.

Silvermine Arts Center is located at 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan, CT.  All exhibits are September 15 – October 26, 2013.  Gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday: 12 – 5pm, Sunday: 1- 5pm. Signed Sealed & Delivered is Saturday, October 5, 2013 (5-7 pm). See information online, or call 203.966.9700.

I will attend the collector’s party in October. I hope I will see you there.