Collage Show Trashes It Up
by Carl Mellor - Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
REnewal, the exhibit at Gandee Gallery.

Artists have long incorporated techniques such as recycling and reclaiming into their work. That includes reusing discarded objects and materials, and the very process of collage.

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Photo from Gandee Gallery.

REnewal, the exhibit at Gandee Gallery, covers all those bases. Indeed, it moves from Dan Bacich’s assemblages of salvaged objects to Betsy Menson Sio’s jewelry utilizing bottle caps and other items, from Theresa and Keith Traub’s furniture and jewelry, made from leftover wood and metal, to Marty Blake’s “Cabinet Card Series,” which reworks images from vintage cards.

In addition, Jen Gandee’s pots incorporate botanical illustrations from the mid-1800s and figures seen in exercise manuals of the 1940s. And Lucie Wellner has created hand-painted, digitally collaged Victoria illustrations; her pieces are positioned over faded-metal grates.

While the show clearly has a unifying theme, there’s plenty of room for individual artists’ works. Bacich’s pieces demonstrate an absence of repetition or pat themes. He’s created both “Discobolus,” in which a solitary figure steps over a shield, and “La Strada,” which combines chains, a musician’s horn and the bottom of a shoe. “In Blue Rider,” a lighter is paired with a metal object shaped like a horse. The assemblages are inventive and imaginative; they challenge viewers to ponder connections between the objects.

Blake, meanwhile, has roughly 50 cards on display, all of which first appeared during the 1800s and present studio portraits of couples and families. In each instance, she has altered an image in a whimsical manner. Thus, rabbit ears are added to a person’s head, a stack of dollar bills runs through hair, and a man’s head is changed so he has ultra-thick eyebrows.

The cards, which Blake initially created for her own amusement, certainly don’t represent the sum total of her work as an illustrator. She’s done a variety of projects, including book covers. The Gandee exhibit references that work by displaying the cover she did for The End of Nature, a book written by environmentalist Bill McKibben. It’s a collage that subtly evokes nature.

Elsewhere, the Traubs, who work together in United Too Design, display “Morph,” a piece of furniture made from chestnut and reclaimed steel; two necklaces incorporating arrowhead shapes; and “Moto Spring,” a fine metal piece. And yes, “Scoop” is a gigantic metal scoop.

Sio has various jewelry items on display: a bottle-cap bracelet, brooches with stripped patterns and figurative work. She has inscribed images of a pheasant, drummer, chair and other subjects on the side of a bottom cap. Most importantly, the exhibition presents a bunch of her pieces, making it possible for viewers to get a strong sense of her work.

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Photo from Gandee Gallery.

Gandee’s sculptures reflect both her work as a ceramist and her interest in collecting images. She looks through manuals, encyclopedias and other books for interesting images, manipulates them and ultimately creates works like those on display at her gallery.

Finally, Wellner’s pieces don’t simply reproduce images from the Victorian era. She did digital collage to draw on multiple sources, printed the images and then hand-painted them. This is new ground for her. Until recently, she has been focused on watercolors depicting rural scenes and floral designs.

REnewal is a well-organized show that lets the various artworks develop and communicate its central themes .Beyond that, it’s a successful group show that also highlights interesting individual artworks.

The show runs through July 27 at the Gandee Gallery, 7846 Main St., Fabius. The gallery is open Thursdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 416-6339.

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