"You may be our only chance"

Steve Specht here...
I forgot that I wanted to entitle this piece "You may be our only hope"... I like "hope" better than "chance". Regardless, this piece will be on exhibit at Sculpture Space for their holiday show beginning next Monday (Dec. 6th) at 5:30. Enjoy!


music excitement!!!

I just heard the first draft of the music for the 2 barns on blaine piece!!!! Oh, how can I explain the excitement of this???
I haven't had a moment to work on this piece since I am really super busy these days. I really need some music first, before i can approach the visuals. It's just so utterly cool to be able to work with someone else. In concert, pardon the pun.
I am not meeting with Anthony in person,  mind you. We are conversing via the tumblr blog I created for this purpose. At this point, it's about the process and I am documenting each step of the way as I take my collage art to another platform. The blog for 2 barns on blaine is here, and you certainly should take a peek on over there and hear this music track for yourself!!!


small pieces

I know some of these posts of mine are getting stranger, more cryptic at times.
It's becoming more and more about the process...and with words I cannot tell you what I am doing.
The words may become lyrics. The music may become video.
The small parts will eventually become one whole.

ggb ghost

Originally uploaded by misphit


in the warmth of indian summer
when the scarlet sumac grows under
a copper canopy

a driveway deserted long ago
straight down the road to this row
of gnarled trees

these rotund sheds with roofs of rusty tin
an old woman peers out from the cobwebs within
her flannel sleeve

a mere shadow of her former self
even her memories stored away on a shelf
among the dead leaves

a gust of wind blows it all away
and her ghost visits here every day
the grain bin guardian


The light box "Brunoven"

Steve Specht again...
I've finally finished the details of this light box I have been working on. It's entitled "Brunoven", which is an anagram of "noun verb". Each of the words written near the images can be used as a verb or a noun -- branch, pet, yellow, reach, block, love and head. The title is also suggestive of an "oven" and perhaps a word of German origin.. "brun". Enjoy!


Day 2 of The Invasion

Steve Specht here.
Okay, so here is the finished product (the one with the double matting, to match Day 1). The first one in this series (the one with the colorful bird) was purchased by my colleague Dr. Tyson Kreiger. I was motivated to continue doing a series of these pieces because I like them and it seems that others do too. I was contemplating including a bird head in each one, but when I saw how nice this lady's head looked, I just couldn't resist. But... I did try a composition with a golden eagle head (as shown). When I used this head, I certainly had to change the color scheme of the background space imagery. It provided me with the opportunity to do some photographing to use in a workshop about collage composition I hope to put on one day. Enjoy!


Rural Grove - Fabric #1

An attempt at fabric collage
I recently have wanted to try my hand at sewing collage. I have been hoarding fabrics since the '80s. I have at my disposal my mothers' Brother machine from the 60's. It's the machine I learned to sew on. There's magic in them thar needles. 
I decided to give it a go on Saturday.
It's refreshing to try something new. I am not done with this piece. I may even do it again. It's much harder to do than it looks!! and once you sew something on, you almost have to live with it. Taking stitches out doesn't work so well on silk.
Kudos to the fabric artists!
Cropped photo of Rural Grove 

Indian cries in the distance

It's no secret I am super fond of Charles Burchfield. He's a watercolorist from Ohio and I have gone to see his work in Buffalo. In his work, he attempted to paint sounds. Crickets, animals of the field, birds...he uses paint and paintstrokes to depict the sounds. I love that idea. So I tried it....but it came about accidently. In a DADA and coincidental way, as is typical with my work.
A glimpse of the stencils at Nellis Tavern. The stencil in the center was the one I was interested in.

I started out thinking about doing a piece that would be about the inside of the house, prior to the action. I wanted to use something locally inspiring. There were some really fine stencils that I saw at the Nelliston Tavern. I wanted to use these in my artwork, maybe as a pattern on the wall.
After I painted the first strokes, I had to let it dry before I could continue. I was not liking what was on the paper so far. It didn't look spaced properly to be a stencil. I was really blasé when I was painting, and it pissed me off that this was not going to work as I had planned. Damn, if it wasn't happening on one of my better sheets of paper, too. I usually try to rise up to the occasion when unplanned things happen in my work and I tend to be too thrifty about supplies. I turned the sheet upside down. Suddenly, the stencil looked like wispy feathers. Feathers! That connected with the idea of Indians in my video....and then I went all Burchfield in my mind. I began to look at these paint strokes as sounds instead. I took out the pen and ink, and tried to fill in a little bit, to suggest feathers...Echoing feathers.
Indian whoops
At this point, I was still so-so about the piece. The drips were another attempt to shower these sounds down on the land. Not so sure that idea worked.... I added the 2 barns on blaine, trying to take advantage of whatever textures I could, this time some florist foil. The end result turned out usable. I am not super fond of this piece, but I think I can use it in the video. And I have isolated the feathers already and maybe they can be recycled a la video, too. The process continues.


fire zone - progress of the next invasion

Steve Specht here...
After about a month and a half of feeling minimally inspired, on Thursday of this week I had the time to spend in my studio (and had cleaned-up my area a bit) and ended-up feeling "on fire" again or "in the zone" with regard to collage activities. It was exhilarating and greatly appreciated! I have several projects underway, but thought I would share a couple photographs of the second in a series of "invasion" collages I have in mind. Many people ask "how do come up with your ideas for a collage?". One of the things that I do LOTS of, is trial-and-error. I interchange many elements multiple times to finally arrive at what looks good to me. Fortunately, what looks good to me apparently looks good to some others as well. But the point here is that the collage doesn't just "come together" (i.e., it's not just simply "thrown together" quickly... in my case). Here are some of the "trials" that I have looked at this week. It's unlikely that all the elements shown will make it to the finished piece. But you can probably see things "developing". Enjoy!

a new assemblage

Thought you might enjoy seeing my new assemblage. - Steven


Open Source???

Going Open Source
Since my beginnings in computer graphics in 1985, I have always had the luxury of using the software that my employer has purchased to my own personal advantage. Learning the software was easy, since I had to perform for my job, and my various employers have paid for my training. I was lucky to get moved onto a Mac so early in the game, and now I consider my computer skills second nature. I take them for granted! My recent revelations have allowed me to return to the computer for creation and I am faced with some new problems.
I want to learn new stuff
Photoshop is a great program for working on still images. However, at this time I am working on video. This requires new software to do new things. My employer is a printer, and video is not on the menu. So you can imagine that in this economy, my employer isn't going to spend any cash on expensive video software and then train me on it...just in case....we do some video for a work promotion! This leaves me holding the bag. If I want to continue to work with video, I need to handle it on my own.
The days of MAX/MSP
I am interested in special video mixing effects, and even more specifically I am interested in affecting my video with some audio. I have special needs!! MAX/MSP is an expensive program, running at $699. I really can't do it. You won't believe the hassle I have had just to be able to use this program already.... I'm a tech at work, so I am often changing Macs, upgrading, and testing them. I did get my employer to purchase MAX 6 or 7 years ago. But the license structure required me to get a new license every single time I switched macs. After awhile, the company Cycling74 started to give me a hassle about the license, probably thinking that I was ripping them off. Of course, this didn't stop me. You can download a 30 day full feature demo and run it anytime. When the 30 days is up, you can't use the program anymore on that machine unless you pay. I just mentioned my luxury of having many macs at my disposal. I simply would use the software till the 30 days was over, and then either find another machine to use it on, or at one point, I even erased and reloaded a mac just to be able to get another 30 days out of MAX< so I could finish my Sharon Springs DK videos before the show! It's a drag.And it seriously bums me out.
This new project requires lots of high def video work and I can't keep doing this 30-day demo dance.
Hello Open Source. Hello Pure Data
Lucky for me, the creator of MAX is a believer of the power of open source software. For you who may not know that that is, open software is just that. Open. That means the code for the creation of the software is free and open to the public. It means that I get to take advantage of this benefit and use the software for free. Open source software is usually more difficult to learn, since there is no dedicated company that can pay to have instructional manuals or documents written. It's up to the open community at large to service itself, and mostly I think software developers are busy working that code, rather than writing manuals for the rest of us. For them, that's where the excitement is. Who could blame them?
Miller Puckette, the creator of MAX/MSP, has created a second very similar program called Pure Data, and it's open source! He is hoping that thru open source the program will grow and reach new loft heights. Since the same genius has developed both programs, they are similar. This means that I can take the meager skills that I had developed in MAX and apply them to this new software. Luckily I have a logical mind, and I am finding my way through it quite easily, even easier than I did in the MAX program itself! Finally, a solution! And it isn't costing me a dime.
Besides, it's a matter of principle
I believe in an open and competitive world. I really get annoyed about monopolies, greed, and commercialism. It's super good to be supporting the Open Source community and it's an added bonus to the project. I even hope to be able to provide some feedback to this community on my findings with working in Pure Data on my Macs. Working for more than 30 days without interruption will also be a welcome change!!


2 Barns on Blaine

This is the first collage for the 2 barns on Blaine project. I really like how this came out. It's a serious challenge to breathe life into inanimate objects.
Outpouring emotion from a barn while clouds and stars are bleeding from the somber sky.

Mixed Media on Hot Pressed Arches 9 x 12
Acrylic, india ink, vintage wallpaper, cover of The Golden Book of Stars, box for vintage hardware, opera libretto, funereal poster, frontispiece of children's book, digital photo laser prints, pieces of vintage chocolate box, piece of a christmas candle box, doily bits from a vintage candy box

PSY507 - Psychology & The Visual Arts

Steve Specht here...
Last night I had a great session with my class at Utica College. The course is NOT a studio art course - we mostly look at lots of art and discuss the various techniques used to create various effects like illusion of depth or Gestalt groupings. But last night was "studio art night". We started with some color mixing exercises and then spent the majority of the night creating collages. Here are a couple that were created by students (I will post more, but many of the images were slightly blurring for some reason). I was proud of the group for what the created. Enjoy!

National Collage Society Annual Juried Exhibit

You can now view this year's Annual Juried Exhibit of the National Collage Society at http://www.nationalcollage.com/2010.html.
In fact, this year the society has "gone green", so that there is no physical exhibit of this show at any gallery. Not sure if I really like that idea (I think there should be a gallery exhibit as well). The thumbnail images are a bit deceiving as they show only a small section of each respective image. It's best to open the first image and then hit "next" to go through the show. Enjoy!


The birth of the audio and being naked

I don't really understand
But suddenly the path to take in this work seems so clear! I know what the plot will be and what I want to see, what I need to do. Usually these things are pretty DADA and I feel the randomness of the universe playing me like a piano. In a serendipitous fashion, just the right piece of paper seem to fall in my hands, or appear on the magazine page. It's so mysterious. It's what keeps me in this business of collage. But this time it's different.

I really need the audio before I can do the visual
The process of creating an animation to music is pretty involved....Over time I have stumbled my way into some pretty archaic workflows! One thing I am sticking to is that I have to have the music before I can animate my collage and artwork.  I like to make the figures and objects almost dance to the music. It's key to making things even slightly believable. When I am working in the Flash animation timeline, I can see places in the sound track where the beat is heavier, and I can place emphasis on certain chosen points in time.
So it was critical for me that the music for these pieces get started. Lucky for me, I have some really creative and interesting friends. Anthony is a musician from Utica, NY who I met through my inspirational coworker Travis. Anthony has a band called Draculatron and he passionately belts out his wailing songs in front of local audiences constantly. He's driven creatively, and I enjoy his enthusiasm and overwhelming emotion. He's a prolific singer and songwriter. How happy I was when after I proposed my video idea to him, he accepted!

The story of the video evolved slowly. 
There are these 2 barns on Blaine Rd. I took a photo of them one morning on the way to work and I used a setting on my phone that allowed me to apply random filters to the image. I shot from the hip and the picture that was born inspired me. It's not a particularly excellent image. But I live here and see these 2 barns all the time. The feeling I get from them goes way deeper than the image.
I thought about how it must have been when this land was first settled. I tried to imagine what was happening back then, and how things might have gone down here at the 2 barns.

The plot
Two lovers are wrapped arm in arm in early morning slumber....when they are awakened to the sound of cries in the distance. They only appear as black silhouette's against a backdrop of fading tin ceiling and dark shadows of bottle green and sapphire. Facial features are indistinguishable but you can tell that they are in a loving embrace (i picture a silhouette of their arms wrapped around each other) A sweep of the curtain in the window reveals that there is a raiding Indian war party racing towards the home. In haste, the 2 lovers gather themselves together and run down the back stairway, while the front door bursts open and the Indians rush in.  Their darkened black figures are seen rushing downstairs and flowing like ghosts. The words of the music will spin and scroll across their figures in barbed wire like flowery colonial script and disappear . Down the stairway and out the back door they ran for their life, straight to the 2 barns on Blaine for refuge. The sun comes thru the window and the figures of the 2 black shadows are revealed. They are both men.

I feel like I am taking my clothes off
I have not really voiced many of my deeper personal opinions here on this blog. It's all getting so personal. (somehow I can't help but believe that it's all about the process of getting personal and the art is incidental and so I am compelled to write here as though this blog and the writing itself is part of the art) It's going to get personal, and it's okay, I am assuring myself. I have a friends of every persuasion, color, religion, creed and sexual preference. I love my gay and lesbian friends as much as anyone else in my life. They are some of my closest friends. I feel that we should all love one another....as we are all ONE. (john lennon anyone?) It would be a good way to spread my personal message. Using our history and bringing it into a different context--that which is mine. I imagine gay and lesbian people were quiet about their preferences in those colonial times--these were some freakin' Puritan times!! People were forced to go to church all day long under penalty of law and I am sure these folks were fiercely punished if they were discovered. Colonial writings and stories about the lesbian or gay community I have not seen, but they must have existed. And there must have been some instances where these people also had to feel sting of the growing pains of our country. Why not I tell the story that I thought must have existed?

You didn't see it coming
You have already become quite sympathetic to the couple and your heart should race as they run down the stairs, shadows...ghosts. And then there is the striking reveal that they are gay. This should prove my point. We are all one. By then it's too late for you and you would have to admit we are all just people.

The birth of the audio and being naked
Asking Anthony to collaborate on this particular video was no coincidence. He is gay. And his passion for the gay community will help him bring ALL of his emotion and creativity to the music. I got my first glimpse of the music today. I was so excited to hear the beginning of something entirely new...inspired by the deepest parts of me. But that's for another post. Enough of my rambling. I already feel quite naked out here.

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