What Assemblage Is

Just in case you were wondering…
I ran across this great definition of assemblage from instructor J. Minkoff’s class notes for his ECC Art 100 class. He succinctly points out that that an assemblage is a type of construction, but a construction is not necessarily an assemblage. Hope that answers some questions…try this definition out next time you visit contemporary works at a museum…
“A Construction is any sculpture where a variety of materials are joined together to make a 3D artwork. An example would be below (“Soft Toilet”, Claes Oldenburg, American, 1960’s), where vinyl, wood and other materials have been used to build the artwork.”

oldenburgtoilet

“An assemblage is a particular class of construction. As in a construction, the artist is joining together a variety of materials. However, the materials in an assemblage are, more specifically, FOUND OBJECTS. That is, objects that were made by someone other than the artist, usually for a non-art-related purpose. The artist finds ways to combine these found items, often emphasizing the way they do not seem to belong together, and were never meant to be used in the manner the artist has chosen. Below is a good example of an assemblage: “Monogram”, by Robert Rauschenberg, American, 1960’s.”

 

rauschenbergmonogram_side

Note that Minkoff points out to us that the assemblage objects were never meant to be used in the manner the artist has chosen. Here is where great humor can be inserted…

 

 

Are We Becoming Mainstream?

an idea takes flight

After the great open studio event we had last month, I was left wondering, “What made this year so successful?” I can’t say for sure, but here are a couple of ideas:

The 100th Monkey Effect- For those of you not around in the 60s and 70s,the theory was that after an idea circulated through a society of 100 monkeys, the idea jumped exponentially to other monkey societies.  I hope that assemblage art is becoming more recognized and accepted by the general public. I hope this is true, and that people are intrigued and want to see more.

Hard Work Pays Off– Social media works for the artist. We posted images of work to be on display for the event 2-3 times per week for about 5 weeks leading up to the event. We hammered the event shamelessly, and we invited in person. I know of a few people we personally invited who showed up because of that. Putting in the effort paid off. People came to see the art and the studios, not to eat the cookies.

A good book on hosting an open studio event is, ‘Open Your Studio’ by Melinda Cootsona. Melinda offers a lot of helpful advice in her book. You will have to taylor that advice for what will work best in your situation, but there is plenty there to work with.

What I Wished I Had Done-I was a little embarrassed going into the event that our website  wasn’t dialed in. It looked good, but I had no links for purchasing works on the site. And I saw that we had an amazing amount of traffic on our site that weekend. Opportunities missed? Visitors could have gotten an idea of our pricing before visiting, maybe seeing something there that peaked their interest…or could have contacted us later about a piece they saw, but needed to think about.

So, I put in a few hours and got it together. You can check out our website at www.weebly.com/wilson/spencerart  We were a little slow on that and apologize, but will not let it slip again!

FAQs at Our Gallery-How Do We Start?

After a very exciting 3-day open studio event, we would like to thank everyone who showed up offering friendship, support and purchases. Our biggest turnout ever!

I tried to listen to the questions we were asked while speaking about our studio work, and thought it would be fun to address them here in the blog. I already wrote about the number one question: “where do we get all this stuff?” in an earlier blog, An Avalanche of Stuff…

Another popular question is, “How do you start a piece?”  The short answer is “many ways…”, but here I will address three main ways we might start a work:

  • Lay In The Background. This is a favorite of mine for wall work. For the beginner, too, you can avoid the pitfalls of creating cliches like bleeding baby-dolls, and robot after robot. (okay, don’t get mad, just saying it’s been done…) When you lay in a background you are giving the piece a chance to speak up. Once laid in, the background often starts to set the mood, and from there, roughly dictates the theme. In the piece below, I wanted the feeling of an old library. The original paper was pretty bright, so I toned it waaaay down with washes. Then, it reminded me of my great uncle’s library, his profession and travels:

entomologist

  • Use One Major Piece and Build A Story Around It. Here, you must stay cognizant of your focal point. Extra pieces will come and go until it feels right and it will be cohesive if you watched and listened to the art as you worked. I have a friend who keeps all the pieces of the same time historically.  His art stays cohesive and comfortable that way.  In the example below you can easily recognize the focal point, and I tried to give a ‘Punch and Judy” feel to the piece:

in the can

  • Find Two Pieces That Want To Work Together.  This is my favorite way to start a 3-D or sculptural piece. The two pieces are often nonsense together, but they need to be comfortable together and make some sort of weird sense. In the piece below, Michael has put together a camera that sits on an old tripod. Interestingly, none of the pieces in this work are from cameras!

Dada Clock

I hope readers can get insight to how we work here, and assemblage beginners can get ideas for getting started. Many of our works can be found on our website: www.wilsonspencerart.weebly.com or on the Etsy site www.etsy.com/shop/thebeatgallery and www.etsy.com/shop/thebeatgalleryannex

Again, thanks to all our wonderful friends, old and new, for the successful open studio event last weekend!

 

The Assemblage Art Of Dreams

Mrs. Sayers

In the last post I mentioned that this piece has a story behind it…well I better get to telling it because it is not often that I work on a piece like this, and the piece is gaining attention, I think, because of the story:

Mrs. Sayer’s Magic Cats

When I was just out of high school I had a very vivid dream. It has stayed with me over 40+ years.

I dreamed I was walking down a country road late at night. This road had no sidewalk, just a drainage ditch full of grasses that marked the edge of the road. I kept hearing this noise, “vvvvvvuuuup zing, vvvvvvvuuuuup zing….” I wondered what the noise was and turned to look. It was an amazing sight! Hidden along the road in the ditches were cats. And from the ditches running up into the sky were wires. Wires from the ditches disappearing into the night sky and every once in a while a cat went zipping up the wire, “vvvvvuuup zing!” as they rode the wire up to the moon.

It was a great dream, odd for sure, but not upsetting, just very odd and vivid.

I got one of my first jobs a few months later at a rest home. It was run by wonderful people who cared for their staff and clients. I worked on the cleaning crew during the day. The job was hard work, but not traumatic in that the residents were pretty together and some well-off. Mrs. Sayers apparently had plenty of money,  she lived in a private room surrounded by her own furnishings, big heavy drapes at the windows, it was more like entering someone’s parlor, than an institutionalized room. And Mrs. Sayers was eccentric to the nines! I loved that. Her comments were often head-shakers and always brought us to laughter.

One morning I went in to start cleaning her room. She was sitting in her big leather chair, grumbling. “Good morning, Mrs. Sayers, how are you, today?” my usual greeting. She looked at me and said, “I didn’t sleep a wink, last night, for all the noise…” Really? what was all the noise about, I asked. “Those cats!” she exclaimed. What cats? There are no cats here…I said as the hair started raising on my neck….

“All those cats! It was a full moon, you know, and they ride wires to the moon when it is full…the ditches were full of them! The noise went on all night!”

I’ve heard that in the late teen years young women can have a certain small clairvoyance. This was an instance that finally came out into an art piece…..those magic cats!

 

An Avalanche Of Stuff

headAs I write this I can hear Michael in the background entering all of the ‘junk’ purchases we made last year into QuickBooks. Each entry is accompanied by a “que-beep” as it makes its way to the list of items that were purchased and added into our tax information for Mr. Dean, our tax man,  to work his tax magic.

All that stuff….which brings me to today’s comment. We are asked at every exhibition, “Where do you get all that stuff?” So I have broken it down into the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here’s the orthodox list:

Friends and family- My darling cousin sent us a bag of drawer pulls via her husband, (my real cousin) today, via his 4 hour drive over! Now, let me see….next time can I send back some homemade jam? oops let the cat out, Debbie…

Ebay and Etsy-This is Michael’s world. He is a closet shop-o-holic. He finds so many cool little items there. He prides himself on never paying more than $7. (I know this is not always true…) But I overhear him talking a seller into free shipping all the time! oops, family secrets are out, Michael….

Yard sales-These are a desert of plastic junk these days, but sometimes….a real sweet antique shows up….like the vintage chess men Michael bought that were handed over in the (huge) copper pot that they didn’t charge for… We sold the copper pot on Ebay for enough to buy much more junk!

2nd hand stores- Like yard sales, you have to be willing to sift through some funky plastic junk, but the books can be a find…and my pal who works at one got me the metal folk-art kitty in the piece I just finished below.

Antique stores- This is the fun finds when we are on vacation. Last year my sister gave me a carry-on suitcase from her closet so we could lug all the good stuff we found while on our visit (with the cousins.)

And now the unorthodox list, or the list of shame…

The dump-We are rural, real rural. Garbage doesn’t magically disappear from our driveway. We will be spotted checking out the “metal” pile every 6 weeks or so…please, just don’t call out, “Hey! What’s up you guys?” when we are trying to go incognito….

Michael’s garage finds-Michael paints houses for the basic money we survive on. His clients are constantly telling him to ‘take what he wants,’ they just want to be rid of the stuff in the garage. Our cool headboard at the top is from someone’s garage. It was an old stair railing…

Our driveway-okay, not so inspiring , huh? But a lot of rusty nuts, bolts, and washers can be found on our ranch. These little embellishments can come in handy…

Here’s the folk art cat piece called Mrs. Sayers Magic Cats (there’s a story behind that) and our really cool headboard is at the top of this post.

Mrs. Sayers

 

Hurrah For Diversity

red circleWhat a great surprise! I was gone for a week to Florida (Grandson time!) and when I got home, Michael surprised me with a new piece he is working on. I snuck a quick photo behind his back to show a work-in-progress.

We are both expanding our art edges this year and finding it more enlightening  than we ever could have imagined. Playing with new ideas and techniques is profoundly rewarding. We are finding that not every piece has to be a masterpiece; now we are free to grow. I read this quote while on the plane: ” Play is the cornerstone of creativity and innovation.” Amen.

Find Us At Mosswood This March

After ALOT of rain this winter, we were able to hang a new show at Mosswood Market in downtown Boonville. Mosswood is a favorite of ours, and of many people. Great coffee to get you going anytime o…

Source: Find Us At Mosswood This March

Art and The Power of Healing

robots

Michael and I were cleaning up photo files on our devises today, (thank you Leslie Saeta’s blog at  http://www.saetastudios.com ) Amazing how good it feels to purge hundreds of redundant photos and free up space on the computers, not to mention pare it all down so we can actually find photos we want without wasting time searching and searching for them.

Anyway, I ran across a photo of a work I did last year when I had the flu.

I rarely get sick, but guess I was due. After a couple of days of misery, boredom set in and I crawled up to the studio, and became immersed in this piece. It wasn’t a particularly serious work, but it was great fun to work on. Just right for a recovery process.

I don’t remember feeling sick during the time I was working on it. I do remember having fun arranging the corny Buck Rogers-like images and the imagined sounds of the ray guns going off. I also remember being amazed how long I was concentrated on it (days) when I couldn’t keep my attention on TV or a movie.

I think this all speaks to the healing power of art. That meditative state we reach as artists where time stands still. I believe it was one of the reasons I got over that flu quickly when it seemed to hang on for weeks for others. Doing art is a healthy practice, I just wish our society could see that and encourage art for everyone along with physical activity. Body, Mind, and Spirit.

Happily, this piece found its way to a good friend’s house, he chose it from a wall full of pieces. I hope it brings health and happiness to their home.

New Exhibition of Assemblages

Michael and Susan are going to be exhibiting an extensive collection of their assemblages, both new and older works through the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah, California. Opening reception will be at the museum January 30th, 4:30-7:00pm. The show will run through April 17th. If in the neighborhood, and interested in checking out some intriguing works by several assemblage artists, do stop by! We will be announcing dates for our artist’s talks concerning our works, and historical interests of assemblage in general.

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