Review of "Doubling, Cutting, Pasting: Figures Re-Invented"

Portrait of K Polaroid Transfer Print 24" x 18" 2008
Today I offer up for your blogging pleasure a review written by fellow collagist Steven Specht. Thanks Steven!

Review of "Doubling, Cutting, Pasting: Figures Re-Invented", an exhibit of the works of AJ Nadel at the Edith Barrett Art Gallery at Utica College (Nov. 9-Dec. 21)

The Eyes Have It - and So Does Nadel

On the curved surface of the back of the inside of the eye lies the retina - a thin "film" of many layers of neurons including the rod-shaped and cone-shaped photoreceptors. As a physician specializing in retinal surgery AJ Nadel is well-acquainted with this neuroanatomical landscape. But wait a minute, this is a review of an exhibit of artwork, not ocular anatomy. In the case of the collection of impressive artworks created by AJ Nadel and currently on display at the Edith Barrett Gallery at Utica College, art truly imitates life - and transforms life experiences and manipulates photographic images of life. In this case, a career concerned with retinas and surgery and vision informs and inspires exquisitely creative and visually stimulating photomontages, collages and mixed media artworks.

Snapshots 19: Artist and Company Emulsion Transfer, Collage 7" x 21.5" 2009

Through the lens of a camera, light creates a representational image of the world on photographic emulsions. When these images are "surgically" removed from one substrate (i.e., the Polaroid paper backing), manipulated and combined and placed onto the artistic space of the surface of paper, or wood or cloth, the resulting images are at once aesthetically exhilarating and thought-provoking. The viewer views what was once viewed through the viewfinder -- but deliberately not in high fidelity. Rather, the viewer of Nadel's work is exposed to creative manipulations of the images in various ways. Some of the pieces represent single large-scale images of once dynamic, folding, twisting and wrinkling aqueous films of photoemulsion captured on various substrates -- still strong with allusions to actual motion and psychological flow. Other powerful pieces in the exhibit integrate multiple exposures of related images in beautifully composed photomontages and collages, perhaps reminiscent of what the brain does after multiple retinal images are encoded and manipulated by emotions and meaning within our gray matter (ah, the multiple frames of memory). And sometimes Nadel enhances the photographic manipulations with inclusion of gestural marks of paint, ink or charcoal.
Through his work then, Nadel invites the viewer to join him in the interplay of images meant to challenge a representational view of the world and instead acknowledge the transformational intricacies and complexities of true vision.

Mixed Polaroid Transfer
22" x 30"



The continuing theme for me currently is family history, or my heritage (if you read regularly this blog, you are probably sick of it already). I was working with the key symbol for awhile and altho I have not created any keys in my artwork in a couple of weeks, I do believe the idea has carried over. I seem to be satisfied with making elaborate headdresses for my characters. This piece, called Diana, is an example of this idea transfer. To put a key on this piece would have been redundant, as she is wearing the most elaborate of hats.
I have been working on watercolors lately. I miss pushing and pulling the pigments, so I have challenged myself to paint more backgrounds if at all possible. This watercolor was based on the photo I took (above) on my way home from college a few weeks ago. My painting lacks the depth and breadth of color in the pic, but I liked the pastel sky and decided to use it for another heritage collage.

This watercolor only has 2 layers of paint. I want to try another where I go 13 layers. If only I could concentrate that long! HA! This piece seems a bit empty for my work, but I am working towards a better balance of painting and collage. It's hard to know exactly when I am done.

The second piece for this week was one that went together rather quickly. The elements sat together on the table for a few days and it didn't take too much to solve the composition. It has a vastly different look than the past 10 works.

No keys. No hats.
This piece has a pic of my grandma as a young woman. I cannot explain the effect this has on my work! Having grandma staring back at me as I cut and paste, it's unnerving. It also makes me try harder. Grandma was my Lithuanian relative, and she wrote tidbits of family history on notebooks and scraps all over her house. She married a norwegian man, my Grandpa Frank. The embroidery is Lithuanian along with the little building in the left. THe middle building, however, is a Norwegian church. She holds it in her hand. This artwork symbolizes her accepting Grandpa's Norwegian heritage as her own. This piece is probably the most serious work in this series.

If that last piece went together quickly, this final piece of the weekend--was crazy. I swear it went together by itself. The pieces rose up off the floor and out of the boxes and landed on the table. It felt that correct. I felt guided, as tho someone else was doing the work. This woman is not a relative of mine. She was a friend of my Grandma from the old country. She is in a few pics, so they must have been close friends. I named her Zemyna, which stands for the Lithuanian earth goddess. I think the bird, the snowy forest, it all reminded me of an earth mother.

This project will probably now take a back seat to holiday fodder. I am broke this year, with my car taking most of my money for a myriad of annoying maintenance type repairs. I plan to make gifts this year, to try to help my wallet out.


A Book About Death — Halloween Distribution System

I went out on Halloween weekend as promised and created mini exhibitions throughout the Mohawk Valley using my duplicate A Book About Death Postcards. I am sorry I couldn't take the time to credit these individuals in these captions. I may go back and fill them in when time permits.
The project lives on.
Ironic right? After all, it's a book about death.

There aren't a lot of places to post anything in Fort Plain, NY.
Here I sabotaged the For Rent bulletin board with 6 cards.

I liked tucking this card in this little shelf out in front of an antique store on main st. It matched the antique bottle and old toolbox so nicely.

There were these pots on the sidewalk with dead plants. What a good place for A Book About Death cards.

Old Stuff This Way! A Perfect prop!

These little plant arrangements were begging for some action. I was hoping this display would tempt passersby to take a card and look closer.

I tried to attach them to this iron post. It didn't work that well, but 2 cards were placed here.

Another plant arrangement with A Book About Death offerings.

This empty store window (also for rent!) had some old DVDs and VCR tapes in the window. The cards I stuck on the window blended in so nicely.

I liked the white backdrop. Looked like a little white gallery wall.

This telephone pole was on the side street by the laundromat. I used it as an outdoor gallery zone, and posted 5 cards here.

This brick ledge was close to where a lot of people enter the laundromat. Perfect slot for some cards.

Inside the laundromat, I stuck some cards on the magazine rack.

And then used every available tack to place as many cards as I could on the bulletin board. Unphased, laundering customers didn't even notice me.

Another white wall begging for some posts!

I wanted some in the country. There's a barn on a 4 corners out in the country that is quite abandoned. I picked out cards for this particular setting that had a lot of green in them, since the background behind was red. They really stood out.

And finally, my favorite pic of all. She seems to be glaring at the man with no face.
Last time I checked, these 2 cards still were hanging on the barn, withstanding winds and rains over the past week.



Originally uploaded by misphit
Okay, so now I got it! A winner. I love Emilie and the way she came out.

This piece has 2 stories.
First, the watercolor. I am recycling these older watercolor studies and making collages with them. This one really had some color punch and was a joy to revive. It was a half done study that I did in 1997. The right hand side mountains and the whole lake were still white and incomplete. I guess it wasn't looking right at the time and I shelved it.

Emilie...is another of my grandmothers' sisters. I think Emilie was a younger sister. I made her a little huntress. I liked the juxtaposition of little girl with weapon. I may use this idea again.

As I started working on this piece, I was staring at the scenery in it. The lines were familiar. I looked again and guessed that I did this watercolor at Mud Pond, a favorite bog of mine on the Powley-Piseco Road in Stratford. I was just there a couple of months ago and did another watercolor study recently and it looked familiar.
Sure enough. There in pencil were my notes from the original watercolor in 1997. I guess it wasn't a successful watercolor, but amazingly enough, I recognized the place!


Originally uploaded by misphit
Aunt Bernice...she was my grandmother's sister.
Bronislava was her Lithuanian name.

The building in the background is from a vintage Sveksna postcard.
I was looking for some color magic on this one. Working towards a folk art look. The orange is supposed to vibrate with the purple. (complimentary colors). Not sure that's working on this piece...
I like it better than Julija, however.


Originally uploaded by misphit
I don't have much to say about this piece.
It started out in my head as a very light colored work, pastel even, like a candy confection. I ruined it with the acrylic. And later on at night, I wanted to draw swirls which REALLY ruined the lines in this piece. (note to self: save swirlies for doodling!)
Not all works --work out.



Originally uploaded by misphit
The woman in this piece is not LIthuanian. She is from an old brown toned English newspaper. I am not sure what country she hails from.
I liked her European attitude, however, and she became a visitor in my little Lithuanian key world.
I am almost done practicing on these key portraits. I will be ready to use my family portraits as soon as I work thru this key thing a bit more. I need to now start adding the Lithuanian iron cross influence to the keys and then I will be ready. I am eager to infuse these with actual family people, instead of random LIthuanian folk from my picture stash. I am also going to experiment with some Norwegian themes. I have pictures on that side of the family to use too....And so the project continues.


Originally uploaded by misphit
I am cleaning out my loft and finding old treasures of my own. This was an old watercolor that never got finished. I guess it didn't look like I expected it to and I abandoned it. For 10 years it has sat in the envelope. I decided to recycle some of these backgrounds and use them in some collage work.

Keys again? yup.

Memory Song

Memory Song
Originally uploaded by misphit
This place is but a memory in a wooden box of the past. They were my Grandmas' treasures. They were her memories and now they are but an ancient song in my mind. An unknown melody of mysterious memory.

Working on small pieces to problem solve this key thing going on in my head. I am looking for a folksy, airy, fantasy, elaborate kind of feel in these pieces. The elaborate keys are the hardest part to achieve. I'm still not certain that these even look like keys!

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