Tucked in the canal region of Little Falls alongside the picturesque Mohawk River, the Mohawk Valley Center For the Arts provides a perfect backdrop for showcasing the collage work of Steven Specht. The gallery is a small venue. It's located in the small city of Little Falls, a small distance away from the hustle and bustle of Syracuse, Utica or Albany, but just far enough away to feel the relief of daily pressures. MVCA is run by some very passionate and supportive folks.
Supplying not just a professional gallery space for sharing creativity, they also provide a small store for continuous craft/art sales, as well as a creative curriculum of classes for the community at large. Having had my own solo show in this gallery last year, I was sure they would provide my colleague Steven with an equally dazzling display. I was not disappointed!
How do I go about writing about the work of someone for whom I have such respect? Steven and I met last year during my show at this very gallery. He had come to see my work and was quite supportive. He purchased a couple of works and we began our art-based friendship. His enthusiasm for the medium impressed me, and I found through talking with him that he was writing collage criticism. This very blog goes thru fits and starts, as any regular reader will attest, and I was happy to suggest that Steven join up here at the collage clearinghouse to post his overflow. Since this time, we have all been blessed with his commentary and the ability to share in his creativity. I have been thinking over how exciting it is to have this lively man participating here in our discourse and how thankful I am.
I have watched from a distance, as Steven joins various collage organizations, participates in several juried exhibits and shows, and grows as an artist through this experience.
It was with great pleasure that I attended his opening at the MVCA this past Sunday. The day was slightly gloomy with clouds and mist overhead, but this did not stop the bustling activity at the gallery. When I arrived, I was happy to find it was packed with people! I was immediately struck by the professional presentation. Steven did a great job in showcasing his work. The frames that he chose were perfect and I liked the effect that was had by using many frames that were similar in design. His work filled the walls nicely, and I thought that the pieces were arranged in a most pleasing manner. Some of his pieces were in floating mounts, and I thought these were especially cool.
Steven has begun to dabble in assemblage a bit, and his newest pieces in this 3d medium stood as a really nice contrast to the flatter artworks in frames. I liked these pieces, they were a nice break for the eye.
What really stuck with me was how utterly flat and perfect his work is. You could have told me these were prints of his work and I would have believed, since my eye could not detect an edge or anything even slightly askew to give away his collage secret. The edges between imagery are completely hidden, as Steven meticulously cuts out each piece and places them as carefully as he cuts them. His pieces are super tight and cohesive. The Jonathan Talbot technique that he uses to compose these works match his style perfectly and I was quite impressed with the overall effect of surrealism that was achieved in his work. This flatness, this lack of discernible layers, allows the viewer to enter the piece, and believably so. His world is so perfectly constructed, your mind easily enters it. This tight structure of work reminded me a bit of Nick Bantok's work in Griffin and Sabine.
I found particular pleasure in collages where he has used black and white engravings as his base, and then added high contrast color pieces to accentuate. The color on these really stands out and makes for a really striking effect.
It's so great this creative and enthusiastic person is living so close to me. In the past I have wanted to blame my lack of participation in the art community on my geographical location. With such an active gallery close by, and now also active collagists such as Steven living within an hour of my home, this practice is over. No more excuses! I am embracing this little pocket of artistic activity. Thanks Steven for putting on such a fantastic and inspiring display! And Thanks to Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts, for continuing to support the arts in our community!!