Following the Shakti

The impulse to make collages suddenly “got up and went.”  It took a while to accept, but a fruitless week of staring at little bits of paper with no forward movement whatsoever convinced me.   When the Shakti withdraws her hand, there’s no choice but to give up.   Still, it was one heck of a ride.  The manic storm of cutting and gluing has passed over, leaving behind four decent works and one better-than-nothing afterthought.


Rearranged Dumpster Studio Portraits

Here’s the last gasp:  a cut and sewn together arrangement of studio portraits found in a dumpster.  It is my habit to rifle through neighborhood alleys searching for frames.  Sometimes, the sweet, sad objects which people leave behind touch the heart, making it impossible to avoid making up stories about  them.  Heaps of silk ties and men’s shirts might mean the end of a love affair or the death of a spouse.   Abandoned bible study notes might be a religious conversion tossed aside.  Once, I found a cache of naughty snaps from a local bar which were so vulgar, I tossed them right back.    Photos often appear and some of them, like these three studio portraits, are collected and held onto for years.     Were these ancestors forgotten or just disliked?   Who knows?   Unable to throw them away but tired of being their caretaker, I finally decided to cut up and reassemble the lot.   With this last montage whimper, it’s back to painting.

The catalyst which pulled the plug on my short collage career was this little graphic whipped up for Joel’s latest article for the Short North Gazette.


Made in Vietnam Graphic for Short North Gazette

I began to wonder where Victoria’s Secret makes their come hither gear and, sure enough, there are factories sprinkled throughout the world:  notably in Jordan, where an influx of Syrian refugees has guaranteed a steady supply of desperate seamstresses and Sri Lanka, where labor is also presumably cheap.   Beautiful lingerie is made under some decidedly unbeautiful conditions.


“Made in Sri Lanka” background in process

As usual, I’m doing the background first.  The roses were carefully positioned and plotted out but the wallpaper itself is basically a free-hand exercise.


Rose wallpaper detail

 The undies will be painted last and are based on products in Victoria’s Secret online catalog.


Victoria’s Secret long line bra



Victoria’s Secret panties

I expect there to be quite a bit of free-hand interpretation as I make my way across the surface but basically the products should be recognizably the same.

I think the end result will be attractive and philosophically resonant.  So many desires are literally sewn into these garments:  the desire for sex, to wield or cede power in the game of love, to make a buck, to make a living, to take advantage of other people’s misery.   Like most things in life, beautiful things can be complicated.


Columbus Open Studio & Stage

Today I volunteered as a studio greeter for the Columbus Open Studio & Stage event.


Volunteer get-up for Columbus Open Studio & Stage

Armed with the required tee-shirt, I headed down to the near West side’s premier artist studio warehouse at 400 W. Rich Street.


400 W Rich St, Columbus Ohio

Franklinton is the oldest part of Columbus.  Before the addition of a decent floodwall, no one could get a property loan for rehab.  This means that, until recently, the area hasn’t participated in the development land rush which has occurred elsewhere in the city.


Mural at 400 W. Rich

There is still plenty of inexpensive space for artists, activists and other urban pioneers.

 My job was to greet people and usher them into Brooke Albrecht’s studio, but due to an Ohio State football game, duties were light.  Instead, I spent lots of time chatting with artist Brooke Albrecht and fellow volunteer and art photographer, Barb Vogel.


Brooke Albrecht in her studio

Brooke specializes in cut paper pieces which she manipulates in photo shop.  The work is sophisticated, wise, stylish and slyly funny.   She also does book covers for Gay romance novels, a number of which she shared with us, much to our delight.  It was lovely to spend time with her.


Left to right: docent for the Wexner Center, photographer Beth Vogel and artist Brooke Albrecht


Barb Vogel scanning Brooke Albrecht’s face

Barb took the opportunity to photograph our faces with a hand-held scanner.  She has been producing these subtle, shimmery portraits of various Columbus artists using this technique for the last year or so, winning many awards and notices.  The images are  ghostly, seeming to arise and subside at the same time.  This unstable visual field robs one of usual mental supports and carries a good deal of psychological and philosophical weight.  “We are such things as dreams are made on,” Shakespeare said, and it’s true.  Truth be told,  I feel as if I’m disappearing more and more every day.