I had a video in mind

I was so excited when I got my iPad and I thought it was going to change my internet world and how I react with it. I started my first Video Blog Post...and found that it was a lot harder being your own producer/actress than I had thought! I did a bunch of footage and as I looked it over I just kept finding flaws.  I really wanted to post it here, and held on stubbornly so I could come up with the "right" video.

Then came my life bounding in with it's utter immediacy. Things in my world are about to change so dramatically that it has tipped and upset my delicate balance. You know how hard it is to get collage work done when the focus is lost. I have had a complete loss of life focus! Chris has been needing help at his antique store for quite awhile now and we hold back knowing that it means finding someone he can trust in addition to committing hours for someone. Money is tight and we really just haven't had the means to do this. So we mutually decided that it would be best if I give it a try and help him myself. This is a pretty big undertaking. I am talking about quitting my day job (of 14 years) and also leaving my printing related career (of 29 years) and moving into being an antique dealer. The skill sets are quite different, that's for sure. Even though I am a Mac techician by day, I deal with the same folks from my company day after day. In my new capacity I will be dealing retail with the public, setting up store displays, promoting the business on line, etc. It's a lot different than what I am used to, since this job has a flexible schedule and basically I am working for myself.

I am so excited I could burst. But this moment is still a month away and I am in the middle of the prep that is required to make the Leap! We have taken care of our financials...and that's all ready for this new mode and now I am trying to clean up my computer at work and get ready to give my notice. You dear reader, know even before them.

Please accept my excuses and lack of blogging for what it is. I am looking forward to finally having some time to work on things for myself, such as this blog and my own internet presence, when this whole job thing switches over. Meanwhile I apologize for such sparse posting. It have been doing artwork, in fact I just finished an 8 page series of mermaid based works inspired by my trip to Maine next week. (well, really I HAVE to use up those vacation days....!!)

Collage is still at the bottom of my heart and I am narrowing down my focus on a few super big projects that I have always wanted to tackle, things that are dear to my heart but will take a lot of perseverence and effort. I think this next phase of my life will allow me this time to work and I cannot wait to see what happens next!!!


A Crash Course in Online Piracy

I was contacted via email by Katherine Long, who is part of OnlineGraduatePrograms.com, a team of designers and researchers that designed a graphic which highlights how the billions of dollars that Hollywood claims to lose due to piracy, isn't all that they make it out to be. In fact, it may be helping them. She kindly offered to share the graphic with collage clearinghouse readers and I was happy to oblige. It's really well done, and I love the way the graphic symbols match the content.
I was also amazed with the facts in it's content. Take a look for yourself, and see where your opinion lies...

Music, Movies, Programs & Piracy


Kurt Seligmann

Steve Specht here...
Kurt Seligmann was an influential American surrealist painter who passed away in 1962. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Seligmann's death, Jonathan Talbot curated an art exhibit this summer at the Seligmann Center in Sugarloaf, NY. My fellow collagist Julie Takacs and I both have pieces in this show. You can view the exhibit (and click on individual pieces for enlargement) at this website http://www.kurtseligmann.org/homage_exhibition/
(btw, I absolutely love this web design that enables you to 'click' on pieces and see them individually). Enjoy!   


two collage books

Steven Specht here...

Over the past month, I received two new collage books that are so good, I just had to share information about them on this blog. One of the books is a technical book about various image transfer techniques by my friend and fellow collage artist Jonathan Talbot and Jessica Lawrence. The book can be purchased through Jonathan's website at www.talbot1.com. This book should be useful for any level of collage artist. The second book is written by collage artist Randel Plowman, who curated the Collage Masters book (what a gem!). Randel's new book is a wonderful in that it covers some design basics in the first half of the book and then presents 50 short exercises to stimulate creative thinking as it relates to collage making. It's a GREAT book and I highly recommend it for beginnings and experts alike. I am hoping to use it in the future with my students. The book is published by Lark Crafts. Randel's blog site is listed in the blogs I follow. Enjoy!


2012 NCS Exhibit

Steven Specht here...
The 2012 National Collage Society Annual Juried Exhibition can now be enjoyed on-line at: http://www.nationalcollage.com/2012.html  Enjoy!


lapel pins

Steven Specht here...

I worked a lot this week on school-related stuff and research, so today I wanted to get some work done in my studio space. Per usual, I have multiple project going on and some cleaning and organizing to do. I had no idea I was going to be doing lapel pins today; but it worked out that I pieced these together with the materials that I was getting organized. That's cool! These pieces are approximately 2" x 3" and 1.5" x 2". I made one for my friend Tom Nettle and the other for another friend of mine who, unbeknownst to me,  has the snake as his Asian symbol. Enjoy!

"Livre rouge"

Steve Specht here again...
Here's something a little different. I will be floating this piece with a surrounding mat inside a 16" x 20" frame so that it will have room to "breathe" more. It's made from a vintage French book cover I got in a flea market in Versailles, an antique spur, cut paper and a rhinestone. I will be entering it at this year's Regional Exhibit at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts. Enjoy!



Steven Specht here...

Here's another example of how I go about my work (trade secret?). I saw this picture of a nice room that I think I got out of a home decor magazine. I really liked the strong light source from outside and knew that it would lend itself well to one of the things I like to do best.... space-scape backgrounds (I hope it's not getting too predictable). I should have taken a photo before I cut the door and window out for full comparison; but here are three candidate space-scapes I was playing with for the background. To me, one of them is "clearly" works best. Which do you think it is? Enjoy!


National Collage Society postcard show 2012

Steven Specht here...
Every year the National Collage Society sponsors its "Wish You Were Here" postcard show. The show is open to all members (which is always nice) and is not juried. Every submission must be 4" x 6" (the size of a post card) and no deeper than 1/4". This year's award-winning pieces can be viewed at: http://www.nationalcollage.com/exhibitions/12pc.html#   Enjoy!

the question of minimalism

Steven Specht here...

So here's the $64K question for today... "What makes a collage a 'collage'"? Or perhaps for this particular post, the question could be refined as, "Can a very minimal change constitute a 'collage'"? I suppose neither question really "needs" to be answered; but I find them both interesting. Here is a pair of images which prompted me to create this post in the first place. As soon as I saw this vintage image of the guy lifting the dumb-bell, I knew I would be using it for collage material. I've been intrigued lately by the variety and richness of "vintage grays". I was exploring potential placements of some of the other specimens I had lying around and found that this gorilla head looked pretty cool. With the gorilla head placed, I considered the possibilities of inclusion of other elements. But I kept coming back to the simple combination of gray dumb-bell guy with the muted brown (raw umber?) of the skull. I think it has a great aesthetic "as is". And thus the original questions. Does what I am showing here constitute a "collage"? If not, what would you call it? After exploring minimalism painting (a la Brice Marden) and appropriation art (a la Richard Prince), and after some of my own experiences with previous pieces, I'm not too "worried" about the answer. But I do find the questions to be thought-provoking and worth discussion. Any input would be welcome. Enjoy!



change is again afoot. as i type this first post from an iPad i must say that i am not sure about what is next. my ideas of internet sharing are changing and i find my lack of technological advancement annoying as i hold onto this blog like a security blanket. the world is changing as computers lose their singular power over us and our phones take over. its getting easier for us to go to the next level and yet its all changing so fast we are barely able to keep up with it all...let alone process it all. my day job has led the way in my own personal journey towards an evolving internet, one wrought with so much potential that i have yet to touch. my thoughts turn to video...audio...a change in the media that i present to the world. blogs arent exactly a new phenom and i crave to use these all-too-available little microphone and camera buttons on my new devices. i apologize for the lower case post as i know its hard to read. its a product of this new device and the problem i have with typing so fast -99 wpm- and not being used to this keyboard. i have already slacked aon (a freudian slip?) ON this blog to such a degree that i am tempted to just end it altogether and run along with the rest of my twitterati and my tumblratti et al.! But something keeps me hanging on as i try to milk this blogging format for what its worth! i think something new is birthing. and i cannot wait to show you...and i will...as soon as i get over my fear of it.


Power of N... again!

Steven Specht here...
I am VERY excited to announce that Joel Lambeth has posted the call for "The Power of N" collage project for this year. See more at: http://tothepowerofn.joellambeth.com/


The End is Near - The Pictures

Some shots from the opening:

Fascinating work by Sylvia Netcheva. She used handmade paper as her substrate. Upon close examination there were elements embedded in the work. I liked this idea very much. Her pieces were sculptural and very expressive.
Sylvia Netcheva (Bulgaria)

This closeup shows some of the intense detailing 
on these pieces.

glass embedded in the work

Kevin's heavy gloss work was amazing in it's thick textured surface. I liked the abstract look, the various interesting papers he chose, and the small intensity of these works. I wanted to talk to Kevin more, but the busy show prevailed!
Kevin Gilmore (Rhode Island US)

I liked the work of Pierre. The diagonal words on the top right piece placed at that angle really worked. The colors he chose were rich and full. I liked the way this work was on canvas...and required no mat or frame. I didn't photograph it, but the images rolled around the edges.
Pierre Jean Varet (France)

The crowd congregates at the opening

Really detailed stitching and very meticulous placement was required for this work by Deborah Snider. She had some really beautiful works and they crossed the lines from collage to quilting.
Deborah Snider (UT)

As is usual for Steven, his meticulous work showed attention to detail. I found his work and the work of Frank Viola quite similar. You can tell these 2 have a similar philosophical approach to the work.
Steven Specht (NY-US)
Frank Viola

These are meticulous and colorful pieces by Frank Viola. During the panel discussion, I could feel how deep Frank goes into his mind as he places his ephemera. 
Frank Viola (NY)

My stuff. Hanging on the wall. Like a little village. 4 of these works were 3d, sticking out like the real building they represent.
Julie Takacs (NY)

Aprile had a very interesting display. These pieces all in matching frames with their similar tones were quite striking. I liked the way they all looked like a dissected book on display! These were works with a nautical theme. 
Aprile Elcich (Toronto)

A lively crowd

I had my camera in my hands during the panel discussion. Here's a shot of 3 collage artists deep in thought as they try to describe the creative process they go through.
Aprile, Kevin Gilmore, Jonathan, and Frank's hands during the panel discussion

This series of works by Jonathan Talbot was a striking presentation. These pieces drew you in, you wanted to get up closer and see what these people were doing. The sepia toned background provided a good foil for the tints in the photos.
Jonathan Talbot (NY)

Dale's intriguing work also lended a vintage aspect to the show. These fragile pieces made it all the way from New Zealand to the states and survived intact. The umbrella particularly spoke to me, in it's very decayed state it reminded me of lace.
Dale Copeland (New Zealand)

The show still hangs in the gallery....if you want to see it yourself! This show ends on April 30th. 
More info here

The End is near - The Words

Driving to Utica on the night of the opening, various thoughts crossed my mind. I've exhibited with other people before, but I have never had the privilege of attending since these shows were too far for me to travel. I've also exhibited solo a couple of times. But this time, I was going to be in an exhibit with other folks and on the scene to meet them. I get a bit of anxiety when I have to deal with a lot of people, especially ones that I don't know. I tend to talk alot and I get clumsy and lost in my words when I speak so this isn't usually a good feeling! I worked on pulling myself together. This was going to be easier for me than for artists who were traveling a far distance to attend this opening. I only had to drive an hour.
As I entered the gallery I was immediately struck by how many people were already there! The gallery at Utica College has such a nice ambience! In the adjacent room, a sweet jazz band was playing music for us  and refreshments were on hand. They had several choices of water infused with various fruits and vegetables....I loved the strawberry water and Travis mentioned the cucumber water as being delicious. 
I walked over to my corner where my artwork hung next to Jonathan Talbot's. I saw a man in a grey suit with a beard standing by his work and it occurred to me that this must indeed be Jonathan Talbot himself! I have wanted to meet him after we have had a few phone call conversations already and he is an interesting character. I walked up and introduced myself to the man and said "You must be Jonathan Talbot!"
"No, actually I'm not." The man replied.
"Oh c'mon! I saw your picture online. Your work is really interesting. I like the way the work is floating in the frame."
"No, really. I am not Jonathon Talbot." Again the man gently replied.
Hmmm. I thought quickly to myself. What an odd character! He doesn't want to discuss his work! The grey suited man strode off to look at the other collages and I considered the situation to myself. There was a lot of confusion with people coming in and I quickly forgot this incident. Later on, my friends Travis, Josh and Jen showed up. Travis wanted to meet Jonathan too, and I told him I would point him out and relayed to him my strange encounter. Before I found the grey suit man again, a tall man in a darker grey suit walked over to me and introduced himself. "Hi, I am Jonathan Talbot."
You can imagine my insides turning to jello at this point as I realized that indeed the grey suit man was really NOT Jonathan Talbot! Travis was nodding at me from across the room, since he heard the introduction and I said to myself...this is the reason you get nervous prior to shows!!!
I laughed it off, especially since I didin't see the grey suit man again. I feel sorry for my actions. I am certain he left scratching his head and muttering to himself about crazy artists!

After this crazy start, I could do nothing but enjoy the show and laugh it all off. I introduced myself to Aprile NotPaper Elcich and her sweet husband Jory. They made the trip all the way from Canada and I was going to do my best to not leave them alone standing there and make them feel welcome. I had hoped to talk more with the other artists but it was so busy! Many people attended and I was surprised at the turnout. 
The gallery is run by Caroline Whitefeather. She has several capable young students working in the gallery and doing various tasks. They were excellent docents that night. More than once, they brought over interested customers and patrons that wanted to talk about the work. I was happy to explain my thought on the theme of the show. It's really a side of the art process that we don't get enough of. it's tht interaction with others, that ability to see their response to your efforts and ideas, that is so valuable! I try to work in a vacuum so that my ideas come from ME> I know all too well my tendency to copy others without trying to. It just happens. In this isolation, you really don't get much feedback. Like a mad scientist you mix those papers like chemicals and out turns a smoking test tube. Getting a chance to use the chemical is a necessary facet!
Many interesting discussions were had. Janet and Matt Stanley came to see the show. They publish Pulse, a magazine for the Utica scene. They are friends of mine and also have purchased my work before. I was glad to have them on board, since this show is something that fits their readership. I also got to speak with Barbara Boucher, who is such a patron of the arts! She was a godsend for me and Steven during our solo shows at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts and continues to be a patron of our arts. 
The people at Golden Arts attended the show and were so gracious. They introduced themselves and expressed their ability to provide an artist tour of there facility in New Berlin. I am quite excited about this and plan to make a trip in the near future. It's so great to see these nice people out in the field meeting with actual artists that use their products. I love it that this company is in upstate New York. Our region needs more of this type of small business!
After all this tedious and exciting art talk, we were ushered into the main room for a panel discussion. It was nice to sit and talk with the public about their perception of what we do. I was fascinated by the answers of my comrades and found that experience to be less intimidating than I had imagined. 
I fiddled with my iphone and took a couple of closeups during the discussion, but I learned that next time I need to keep my hands free of thing to play with! I am a nervous person, and don't need toys when I am on stage!
After the show the artists all met up at Marin and had an absolutely amazing buffet of Indian food. I was still exhilarated from the show experience and of course I couldn't gorge myself like I would have. I have to go back there, the place had most excellent curry!
A great night came to an end. I rode the wave all the way back home to Canajoharie thanking Steven under my breath for his efforts in pulling this all together.



Steven Specht here...
Here's a new piece I did as a demonstration at the Kirkland Arts Center in Clinton, NY on Sunday. I have decided to donate it to help them in their fund-raising efforts. I entitled it "Choices" because the characters seem to have made various choices in life. Enjoy!


Kirkland Art Center "Great Continuous Collage Project"

Steve Specht here (one day after April Fool's Day)...
I had a REALLY nice time yesterday at the Kirkland Art Center for the Great Continuous Collage Project! They have paper up on the walls and plenty of materials for folks to make collage. It's an on-going community event. Go try it out! See "kirklandartcenter.org" for more details. Enjoy!


end of a blog

Steve Specht here...
Just wanted to share what I just posted n my blog:
"Looks like I'm gonna have to close this blog down. Seems as though the copyright laws have finally caught up with me. Thanks for your interest and support over the past couple years. It's a very sad day for me. Collage is dead.
Star date - 04-01-12"


Opening Reception for "The End is Near"

Steven Specht here...
Wow! The opening reception for "The End is Near" was a great success!!! It was SO nice to have six of the 10 artists in attendance. Lots of folks came out for the event. After an hour an a half of viewing and great conversation, we had a short Q & A session. The entire evening was fantastic! Enjoy!


a couple more coming nearer

Thought I would post a few more shots of pieces that will be part of the exhibit at Utica College. These are pieces created by Aprile Elcich, Kevin Gilmore and Deborah Snider. Enjoy!


"The End is Near" is Near!!

Steven Specht has curated the international collage exhibit "The End is Near", which will be held in the Barret Art Gallery at Utica College. I am honored to be a participant and look forward to this show and all that comes with it...such as the meeting of other collage artists and art lovers, the discussion over the topic and the works, and the overall festive atmosphere that an opening reception provides. I can't wait! It seems so rare here in the hinterlands of upstate NY.

webster wagner / Palatine Bridge

The End is Near was a tough topic for me. I have an open and imaginative mind, and nothing is impossible.  Of course that day is an ending! So is today! And tomorrow! Every single day is an end and it's followed by a new beginning. In fact I feel time is in slices -- albeit small ones -- and that every waking moment is a small death decay and tiny miracle birth in time fractions so small we just don't comprehend them. But they are there.
My latest passion is in the architecture, in the buildings and the shacks, the barns and their details....I drive around the area with a bag full of various cameras (holga, lomo fisheye and colorsplash, homemade pinholes and 3 digital point and shoots!) and I pull over at random heart-tugging places and try to capture their essence. I have come off the flat paper and now I am in a 3d mode. The buildings are extending out from their bases, rendered in paper, and they are quite delicate. Their fragile structure echoes the temporal existence of the very buildings that inspired in the first place.

These old buildings, the original owners are often long gone, yet the buildings are still here...and we reclaim them, make them our own and continue to live through them until we pass them on. I  loaded up these fragile little paper dwellings with random tidbits of recycled jewelry treasure, little shells, and wired beads that were culled from costume jewelry pieces of days gone by. They provide a sparkle of new life to the little paper shacks. It's a symbol of the new beginning.

Argusville II


These 4 pieces will be hanging in the exhibit. The last one Argusville, has a collage on the inside. The mirror behind the building on the base reflects this image, if you bother to look. To prompt you, there's a switch that leads to a LED that lights up behind the building. And there you have Interactive Art!

I look forward to seeing the interpretations of the other artists that are involved and will be sure to share mega photos before, during and after!!


Homage to Kurt Seligmann

My busy art life has pre-empted this blog! (as usual...i know)  I have had a lot to do the last month and finally now I have a flood of things to share. Let's get down to it.
The first order of business is the Homage to Kurt Seligmann. Steven has already mentioned in a post here about this tribute exhibition that is being held in Orange County to honor Kurt Seligmann. Seligmann was not a collagist, but instead a major player in the growth of surrealism. He did paintings, etchings....and he was an inspiration in all things surreal. Jonathan Talbot asked me if I would like to participate and of course it happens when I am so busy that I can barely find the time to meet the challenge.
I had such a hard time with this. I am rarely asked to to anything specific, and I really enjoy my art freedom, portraying whatever subject I want and whenever I want! I took this project on like I was a student in my own Design class. It's HOMEWORK! I had a deadline, and I had specific objectives I had to meet.  I struggled a lot with it. I am an all or none type of gal, so I either wanted to re-create his piece of make it entirely mine. In the end, I came to a compromise with myself. I would set up some restraints, like Matthew Barney in his series Drawing Restraint.

Seligmann's painting

I picked one piece that fascinated me both in visual and intellectual content. The piece Acteon was a painting (and I think he also did a variation in an etching) that Seligmann did depicting the tale of Ovid. The person was turning into a deer and being devoured by his hounds and his environment. Cool! The theme was right up my ally. I chose to follow Seligmanns lead both in color set and object placement. Even these simple rules made me crazy, but in the end I triumphed and completed this piece.
It hangs next to Steven's in Orange County. I look forward to going down and seeing this exhibit in person next week!

This upcoming exhibition, curated by Jonathan Talbot & Jessica Lawrence, 
will open on March 15th, 2012.
The Reception will be on Friday, March 30th, from 6 - 7:30 PM
You can read more about this here.


Wish You Were Here 2012

Steven Specht here (again)...

This piece will be submitted for the Annual "Wish You Were Here" postcard exhibit of the National Collage Society. It is 4" x 6" (required size) and is entitled "Leap Year" (or "She Always Appreciated His Dropping in on February 29th"). Enjoy!

Seligmann Center for Surrealism

Steven Specht here...
I went down to visit Jonathan Talbot this past week. He is curating a collage exhibit at the Seligman Center for Surrealism in Sugarloaf, NY. Both Julie Takacs and I are in the exhibit. I have already posted the piece that I will have in the show, but thought I would show some other shots that I took on-site (Julie's piece is awesome!; Kurt Seligmann's gravesite; our pieces side-by-side; a shot of Jonathan outside the gallery. It was a very nice day! BTW, the opening reception for this show is on Friday, March 30th in the evening. Enjoy!

___A place to find all kinds of information about collage.