Failure... or is it?

Steve Specht here...
So I spent a good portion of the day cleaning my studio space a little and just sort of getting back into the swing of things with my collage efforts. I actually did two collages today. One was done in the spirit of my friend and fellow collage junkie Julie Sadler. Her collages are awesome and they are quite different in style compared to mine. Her process- which she uses to great effect-- is much more "free form" and she lets herself explore more that I do in my meticulous ways. So I decided to try to "let go" a little and work without much planning. The result I think turned out okay. Then I decided to finish a piece I had started a little while back. This piece is a bit more in my "voice". It's also the smallest collage I've made (measure 2" x 5"). Enjoy!



Steve Specht here...
I will keep this post very brief, so as not to overshadow Julie's recent interesting crystal post. I realize this is VERY 'late notice', but if you get a chance to see the Schwitters collage exhibit at Princeton University art museum, SEE IT! Its phenomenal! Bad news is that it is only up until the 26th. See my blog for more coverage...

Crystals of Resistance & the Process

Altho it really isn't collage, I want to mention one of the things that are currently fascinating me...and this is the website of the massive installation by Thomas Hirschorn at the 2011 Venice Biennale. The title of his masterpiece is "Crystals of Resistance". It's a huge installation created in the Swiss Pavilion, made of raw materials placed in grand scale. He uses many visual cues to reinforce his basic premise, and they all equal a very powerful exhibit that has enchanted me even just by viewing on the internets.
You are inside a geode. Crystals poke from every direction.

In addition to all the imagery, he has this website that accompanies it. In the site, he supplies many documents and sketches and illustrate the birth of his idea and the evolution that followed. He goes into detail and writes about the project and the meaning of the various dioramas he creates....he supplies a book list of the books that he read that influenced his work. It's a huge treasure trove of his process.
Crystals of Resistance website home page
It's all about the process.

He tells a tale on the Schema page that relates to a time in his past when he witnessed children selling crystals....
I was moved. It was a simple tale, but the fact that he shared it helped me follow along his train of thought, and allowed me a glimpse of his work from another dimension.

My attempts at documenting my not-so-recent Mohawk Valley pieces on Tumblr was an extension of this idea where I am sharing the process. I am not achieving this nearly as well as Thomas Hirschorn with his massive and thorough website exposé!

At first glance, the exhibit appeared to be harsh to me, the appearance of the raw tape and foils and the fact that he makes no attempt to hide it at first jars me and makes me snarl. But I am enraptured by the crystals, since I have a fondness for them, being a Herkimer Diamond fiend.....so I keep looking through the pictures and it all begins to make sense. This is how art is I think. Art used to be something that hung on a wall and looked good. We are living in new times! I am learning to embrace them.


The Artist's Reception for Steven Specht at Arkell

Visitors absorbing into each collage illusion

The gloomy weather did not prevent a small crowd of art lovers from attending Steven Specht's reception for his show at Arkell. With these fiery works to view, it didn't matter what the weather was doing… we were in Steven's little stellar world for the moment.
As I entered the gallery, I was happy to see a large supportive group studying the work. He stood graciously before his most recent accomplishments, with the gallery's stone wall providing a great neutral backdrop for showing  some of his newest collages.

The fabulous Steven Specht and his muse Mary Carol Murrie Durr

I purposefully took in each work and mentally noted various things…such as the finely polished surface of each work, the soothing color combinations and the humor infused within. The stellar additions to some of the pieces tickled the scientist in me, and I enjoyed his realistic depiction of everything constellatory! My foray's into the celestial usually mimic astrological themes…so seeing full planets and moons with craters was inspiring.

I really liked this pair, but my photo does not do justice
Enchanting the viewers with his crazy meticulous style, he allows the viewer to really believe the tale he is telling…It's magical.


more on inspiration (not "moron inspiration")

Steve Specht here...
I posted something similar a few months ago; but I think it is worth reposting some new images and showing how raw images serve as initial inspiration for some of my pieces (because the MOST common question of me is "Where do you get the ideas for your pieces?"). Here are a couple of images that I got from a vintage French story book. They both inspire me in an "invasion" kind of way. Of course the window in one of the images will most likely be replaced by some spacescape. The lighting is awesome and it provides me with a nice 3-D illusion. The one with the woman walking the dog is quite thought-provoking as it is, methinks. I've illustrated here how just adding a circular element (it's technically two related elements) with stark color contrast can enhance the "collaged" image immediately. I will probably be working on these images over the next couple weeks-- exploring images and experimenting with placements. I will try to post intermediate images in the progress (but I can never guarantee that "documentation Steve" will be at the side of "creative Steve"-- perhaps fodder for another post). Enjoy!


ABAD: Kickstarter

Remember the Book about Death? This exhibit has grown to unbelievable proportions..how ironic that something about death should promote shuch growth...
Mr. Rose, with his boundless enthusiasm, has started quite the phenom.
There's a new facet to this project that is now in motion.  LuAnn Palazzo is trying to drum up support for this project. It's a fantastic and worthy cause, so if you have a dollar or two to spare in the name of ART-- because, you know, the govt. is reducing art aid by the millions of dollars--could you possibly donate?
I quote from kickstarter:

ABAD has since grown into an international art movement that continues to travel across the US and internationally. ABAD has shown in Brazil, Belgium, the UK, Croatia, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Mexico. It has spawned dozens of collaborative exhibitions on three continents.
This new exhibition celebrates THE TIES THAT BIND all living things universally through death, as well as the creative ties which now bind thousands of artists that literally reach around the world.
The Bay Shore, LI exhibit will feature for the first time new work from worldwide artists that are actual book pages like Ray Johnson originally created in 1963, and NOT postcards. The pages will be bound by the curator into a handmade volume and displayed at the exhibition, thereby furnishing an Omega to the Alpha of the Unbound Book from the original NYC show.
There have been many performance pieces included in these shows but never any music. For this show, I would love to feature some live New Orleans Funeral Jazz! That is primarily what I am raising the money for. I also need to print up posters and fund publicity and other items for the opening reception.

Congratulations Steven!

I am very excited to attend Steven's upcoming show at Arkell in Canajoharie, NY. I am certain he's put a lot of thought and effort to the pieces he will be showing. I am psyched that the gallery in my lil 'ole town is so cool, and I am happy to welcome Steven to Canajoharie!
I will post more with pix after this weekend, but I just wanted to give a shout out to the monkeybrain here online, in case anyone is nearby and can make it.

Here's the google map...if you plan to attend. Cya there!

View Larger Map



Steve Specht here...
I thought that some people might be interested in a brief "lesson" in collage technique (although I'm probably preaching to the choir). I took photos while I was creating "Delicate Rana" (i.e., the blue frog piece) to illustrate the importance of covering edges in collage. Here you see the white edge of mat board on which the collage was created. Simply by using matching paints to cover these white edges, you get a much "cleaner" look which results in more powerful impact (imho). I use a ripped off piece of a foam "brush" for best results (if you use a standard paint brush, it's more difficult to keep paint from "straying" onto the surface of the collage). Enjoy!


Steve Specht here...
I'm working on a somewhat larger scale piece these days. The primary element is something I cut from a canvas wall hanging that I purchased in New York City last year at a flea market. The wall hanging illustrates the internal organs of the human body and was probably used in an elementary school. Last week one night when I was working on detail cutting, I sort of cracked-up because I realized what I was doing was like some kind of weird collage surgery. Here's a photo of the "operating stage". LOL. Enjoy!


To The Power of N

Steve Specht here...

Thought I would pass along this call for submissions to participate in an interesting collage event. Go to this site for more information


From their website:
"The medium of collage allows for the expression of concepts, ideas and emotions through the reinterpretation and recontextualisation of an endless array of discarded and then found materials.

But what if there were only a finite amount of pieces to choose from with which to make a collage? Would two collages created by different artists using the same materials end up looking the same, or at least similar? What about ten different collages by ten different artists?

Would a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters all eventually write Shakespeare?"

MoMA Picasso exhibit

Steve Specht here...
In May, Mary Carol and I went down to NYC to see the Picasso "Guitars" exhibit. Although the focus of the catalog (and title) for the exhibit was on the guitar form, I was struck by the essence of all of the work (i.e., not just the guitar images) in terms of Picasso's exploration of collage itself and of collage as part of truly "mixed media". I have read in various art books that Picasso originated collage as a legitimate medium in modern fine art, but was invariably disappointed when authors typically relied on the same single image to illustrate this [see the ocre-colored guitar piece with the blue rectangle in the upper center entitled "Guitar, Sheet Music and Glass" (1912)].The exhibit at MoMA included SO MANY more pieces which served as a testimony to Picasso's genius with regard to collage (Picasso never seems to disappoint!). It seemed to this naive observer that Picasso was not so much interested in collage as a single medium, but as a means to explore the possibilities of intergrating images. Some of the "collage" elements in his paintings are actually paper elements; but some of the elements that look like paper are actually painted (e.g., the faux woodgrain). I was also struck by the simple collage elements that were included in his charcoal drawings. They were minimalist, but exquisitely placed! I particularly like the piece with the "J" precisely cut at its origin. Enjoy!

Rochester Contemporary Arts Center 6 X 6 show collages

Steve Specht here...
Thought you might enjoy some collage highlights from the recent opening of the ROCO 6x6 exhibit/fundraiser. Shown were some of my favorites (and mine is the frog, entitled "Delicate Rana"). Enjoy!

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.