Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Toda-ji Temple Buddha Collages

I went to one of my favorite thrift stores in Winston-Salem, the Salvation Army in front of Parkland high school. It’s my favorite thrift store because it’s so junky. I like the junk. I love piles of garbage to the ceiling. I like how everything ends up with a price tag whether it’s broken, or expired. You can always find something interesting at a junk thrift store, the junkier the better.

The section I go to first is the piles of books in the very back in front of the toilets. The books there are in a kind of purgatory, they just sit there until that old lady wheels them out to the front. This same lady does the exact same work at the Habitat for Humanity store. I guess she’s a book organizer for hire. Not a particularly nice lady, she’s kind of stern and rarely smiles, but she’s in charge of large piles of paper so I appreciate her work. I’ve seen her at that Salvation Army for years, maybe six or seven…maybe more?

Namely I look for old books. Books that I can reuse a few images from. Book that I can use the hardback covers for other collages. Since this particular store normally has insane sales (just yesterday you could buy twelve books for one dollar) I end up coming out with a lot of things. I look for black and white images of bodies in strange positions, I look for out context images, I look for weird images that get ripped out, cut up, and mailed around the world.

I picked up a book that I think was paint by number and flipped through the pages. I stopped on an image of Toda-ji temple, the infamous temple in Nara Japan where the big Buddha lives. I’ve been there, twice. When I found the image in the paint by numbers book, I had just gotten back from there, like a month before. That Buddha has had a profound influence on my life, one that I think about often, and one that I’ve written about often so no need to write about it here. Needless to say going back there 17 years after my first visit left an indelible impression on me. Like the good citizen of the 21st century that I am, I took out my camera and snapped a picture. I then played around with the colors through Instagram and posted it there with some snide comment. I’m sure the comment was about how such an impressive thing could become a paint by numbers pictures in an old coloring book in the back of a smelly thrift store. I’m sure that was it?
This is the original monochromed image.
I monochromed the image of Buddha and then printed him out on different types of paper. I then made a series of six collages on bingo cards (found at thrift stores) that were not quite 8 x 10. On the back of the cards I pasted an abbreviated story of my second visit to his feet. Now I have to send those images off to people.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

An Old Collage Becomes a New Collage

The collage I sent to Creative Thing (Cypress CA - USA)

The above collage I sent to Creative Thing in Cypress California. He was kind enough to scan the “oversized” card and share it online. It’s not quite 8 x 10. It’s a child’s keno card that I found a nice stack of at a thrift store. I really like the heft of those cards and I try to buy them every time I find them.
The process that I used to make the card was something I’ve just started to play around with. Right now I’m reading a biography of Marcel Duchamp and I was a bit influenced by some of his ideas. Basically I’m recycling a bunch of old analog collages that I’ve created and make something new with them. I’m recycling the old to make something completely new. Here is the process that I used to make the card.
1.      I went through a bunch of my old collages. These are ones that people scanned and posted online. They could have ended up anywhere in the world. I took the color collages and then save them as a monochrome image.
2.      Using paint, the only digital editor I know how to use, I smashed a bunch of these old collages together. I think for this image I used about five or six old collages. I cut down the size of a few of them, flipped them, and reshaped them. I tried to “create drama” by having each one of them crash into the next.
3.      The main goal was to overload the senses…make the eye search for something it recognized. My eye always goes to the LIFE magazine logo all over the image. This is a nod to Richard Canard’s LIFE poetry. The lady in the top right corner is from the first collage I ever made that someone scanned and posted seven or eight years ago.
4.      I printed off a bunch of these smashed together collages on different types of 8 x 10 paper. Some of the pieces of paper were really colorful, it was nice where the color would pop out in between the black ink. It was a random exercise. This particular collage was printed on a dull yellow sheet of paper.
5.      I glued the printed off collage to the hard cardboard backing and cut off the overlapping edges. The final step was to add some marker, crayon, stamps, and some stickers. I think I’m going to do the whole process over with the “new” image. Hopefully someone will scan the result when it reaches its new home and I’ll start it all over again.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Ian MacKaye On Checks Glued to Board

Ian MacKaye printed on checks and glued to board.

It’s taken me seven years to realize that I can run off color copies in one of the classrooms. It’s a really “doh” type of moment. I’ve printed things in the classrooms before but never thought to use color paper. That’s why my creations have such a long gestation time, without any background or obvious common sense, it take me a while to put everything together. Basically what I’m doing is making a lot of old collages new again by printing them on strange paper, and adding them to a new context. Since I can print at such a high volume, I have started to go throughout my house to pick out random stacks of computer paper. There’s a lot, of course. Things just collect and slowly but surely I find a use for them.

One of these things I found in my many stacks, were checks that you could print on. I have no idea why I had these? I put them in my bag and they made their way to school. Right before class starts I put in my paper, and then print off a few things. Randomly I printed an old Ian MacKaye collage (that I never liked) onto one of these checks. Money and Fugazi’s politics…perfect. On the front I had written “This Art is Five Dollars.” It was funny to me. I thought it was really funny, actually. As a bigger joke I posted an image of the collage pasted on board to my Instagram account. I wrote on the post that the collage was “five dollars postpaid.” Once again, this was a reference to Fugazi and to a larger extent, Dischord Records’ politics.  All of this was an elaborate but respectful joke. (Never would I make fun of MacKaye!) Five dollars wouldn’t actually cover the cost of shipping.
In an hour or two I had four people that said they wanted one. I rushed to random pile of things in my closet to see that I had enough materials. Thankfully I had four boards in a strange size (you can’t find a frame for it…get it, perfect!) so I could complete the order. One of the dudes actually sent me five dollars to my PayPal account. I suggested that we traded work instead. I got the better of that deal. Another person I traded one inch buttons for his collage, once again, I got the better of the deal. The only person, who said they wanted to buy one outright, was a friend that I met at his work to hand it over to him. When he was taking out the money he said, “Well the last time I saw them I paid seven dollars” so I responded with, “It’s seven dollars then.” He happily gave me the two extra bones. The last person I’m just going to mail it to them and see what they think its worth. Hopefully they cover the postage. Hopefully they actually send me something.

What have I learned from all this? It seems that if I do something quickly and something that I enjoy and charge next to nothing, people will sometimes be interested in it. The vast majority of things I put out in the world no one has any interest in, and that’s fine, but the one thing dashed off and strangely personal is the thing that resonates. Of course it needs to be free or almost free.

Made By Richard Canard, For Alex Cheek, Found By Jon Foster

The SPOT sign in question.  I got to about ten thrift stores every week. In a good week I might hit as many as twenty. I’ve done thi...