A collage by Rex Ray is on view now at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. It is a huge piece, composed of four panels. As the museum's website says, "For Rex Ray, the joy of making and viewing art is his continuing motivation. Drawing inspiration from his acknowledged influences—the Arts and Crafts Movement, Abstract Expressionism, organic and hard-edged abstraction, pattern and textile design, and Op Art—Ray playfully combines these formalist concepts with decorators’ tips gleaned from lowbrow publications and sources of popular culture in his pursuit to create beautiful things. Gracefully bridging the gap between fine and applied art, he distinguishes himself in each realm."
Apparently he has done lots of experimenting to find papers that retain their strength when wet (many are printmaking papers that he prints or paints on in advance). To get the larger color areas, he works wet, laying down whole sheets of pre-painted paper, like tiles, onto canvas (stiffened by rabbit skin sizing + 5-6 coats of white primer), sponging and spraying the paper areas with water so they stay damp as he works. Then he goes in with a sharp xacto blade and cuts away the areas he doesn't want. Much of it is cut free-form, with various punches used to get the small dots/rings.
It's a very impressive piece with elegant craftsmanship.In addition to this piece, I'm especially impressed with his paper collages although I've only seen those in a book to date. I am always intrigued to see someone moving from the design field, and using those compositional skills, as they approach fine art... since that is where I'm coming from too.