This spring, at Denver's Clyfford Still Museum, I got to see the unrolling of a number of Still's works that had been in storage for years. Many bundles of paintings have been unopened since arriving at the museum. Packages are opened when the conservators are ready to begin working on them. A docent mentioned the opportunity and I'd signed up months in advance to be there, along with about 25 other curious people — plus a team of conservators, photographers and museum officials.When Still finished a painting, he would remove the canvas from the stretcher bars so that the bars could be re-used to begin work on another canvas. Galvanized chimney pipes (the only easily-sourced tube that was long enough) were used to roll multiple canvases together. The rolls were stored in a barn. The rolls were numbered and some have notes and thumbnail sketches of what might be inside. However, even the conservators were not absolutely sure what was inside all the rolls.Here are some photos, taken in the conservation room at the museum... The paintings looked pretty amazing flat on the table so it will be especially exciting to see these re-stretched and hanging in the museum sometime in the future. I've also included a photo of some of the inventory sketches, done by Still's wife, that the museum uses as reference. Charming as they are, it made me especially grateful for all the amazing tools we have these days to document, inventory and archive artwork!
Last fall I was invited to create artwork to contribute to The Mask Project, an auction to benefit Denver Hospice. Once I agreed, I received my “canvas,” -- a cold-looking, almost life-sized, white plaster mask.The raw mask sat in the studio looking blankly at me for quite awhile before I had time to begin working on it. I’d wondered how well papers would adhere on the curved surfaces but my wet working process allowed them to flow with and adapt to the shape, attaching well. Granted, I was working with fairly thin papers and small pieces and I’m sure that helped. It was fun to work on a different kind of support and to respond to the facial features in my own whimsical way.The mask, “Foundling,” will be on display as part of an exhibit in the Kaiser Permanente Grand Court of Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Denver, Colorado from September 12 through October 25, 2016. A number of masks from celebrities and artists are available for viewing and auction. Online bidding on the masks begins September 12 — view (or perhaps bid on!) mine here. Bidding ends October 9.My mask comes with an added premium item: a $150 Gift Certificate for Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, an amazing restaurant / bar / performance venue. Thanks, Ophelia's!
And now for something completely different...Over the last couple of years, I’ve been fortunate to work on many commissioned collages, most with references to landscape, assembled on sturdy wooden supports. My last solo show, Paper Trails, reflected and continued that series. As I was working on those collages, I started to wonder what it would be like to work on more casual pieces with random edges, pushing collage beyond the boundaries of straight edged boards/supports.So I’ve been quietly working on a new idea for about a year and a half now, first thinking and sketching, then exploring some trial pieces and musing about the possibilities, collecting materials and beginning to work on the new series in earnest. I was really unsure that it could be the basis for a show, but wanted to push in that direction.It all started with boxes...An avid recycler, I find myself carefully deconstructing and flattening the many boxes that flow through our household. I’m struck by the beauty and craft in these common materials. The packages have surprising perimeters, that are revealed once taken apart, and unexpected details in their construction. Each box comes with its own history of purpose, content, transport and consumption — ending as a void, an emptied container, just debris.It seemed natural to try using the unfolded boxes as platforms for collage compositions. I like the idea that the salvaged papers are resting on, and relating to, a salvaged support.I’ve enjoyed responding to the boxes' varied shapes and scored fold lines with found / recycled papers. The hard edges of the diecut boxes contrast with the ripped paper elements. While the collages are non-objective works, some of the pieces have a whimsical, almost totemic feeling about them. I think it's a function of the edges. It'll be interesting to see what kind of impression they make collectively. That's something I won't know until they're hung on the gallery walls.Once I had a significant start on the series, I finally determined that the collages are strong enough to make a compelling show. “Unboxed” opens at Spark Gallery later this month! Perhaps you can join me at the opening reception on Friday, August 19 from 6-9pm.Stealth because...For a long time, as the collage works progressed, I was quite unsure of their merit and didn't want to be influenced by feedback from others. And I was oddly possessive about divulging this concept! So I haven’t shown any of them, anywhere, except in a postage-stamp-size image on a gallery promo card. Especially not on Facebook or Instagram, where I have often posted work in progress. Only in recent months have I finally started to show a few samples and discuss them with close family and friends. Now that the series is established, I'm comfortable posting collages from the series here, on my website gallery, and social media. Stay tuned to see more from the Unboxed series as it unfolds, literally!
Some of the collages from my Daily Mail series are included in an exhibition of the Denver Collage Club at the Robert Anderson Gallery through May 30, 2015. The show features the work of more than 20 collagists and was recently written about in L'Oeil, an online photography journal, as well as Kolaj magazine. The gallery is located at 2426 East Third Avenue, Denver, Colorado. Hours are 11am-6pm Thursdays through Saturdays.I've recently (finally!) organized all 75 images from the original series into a catalog, now available for purchase online. Each collage is reproduced at almost full size... so for those of you who felt these pieces should never be separated from each other: an intact collection is now available!