Thursday, July 31, 2014

Collagitation now at the Bizarre Bazaar Shoppe!!

Recently I had the opportunity to consign 17 collages for sale in the Bizarre! Bazaar! Shoppe, located in the Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery satellite location at the Waterfront, in Homestead, PA. I first discovered BBS while delivering a painting for an Associated Artists of Pittsburgh group show at MWFA in June. I was so taken with the intriguing shop, I put together a little album of my own macabre art, showed it to the lovely Proprietress, who then  invited me to bring in some pieces to offer for sale there!

You can see some of my collages in the center image.
It was great to pull all that art out of plastic sleeves in binders, where most of it's been stored since 2010, and put it into frames (a process which is worthy of a blog post all its own. Why did I think I could mat and frame 12 pieces in one afternoon? Daft!)  Here are photos of some of the pieces in the shop:

Never Looked Better
Mixed Anatomies (top), Masks (bottom)

My Dark Heart

Remorse (on easel)

Spiral Staircase (top) and Party Hat (below)

Grouping of the above, along with Death on the Wing (top left) and Aunt Letitia's Parlor (Tribute to Edward Gorey) (lower left)

If you're in Pittsburgh, please stop by the Waterfront in Homestead and take a look!  Most Wanted Fine Art (#9 on the directory map in the link) is located on Amity Square behind Leow's Theater, across from Starbuck's, next to the Gap. (Ironic, no?)

Bizarre! Bazaar! Shoppe is the brainchild of Dr. Morose and Miss Macabre, aka Nick Noir and Macabre "Mac" Noir. Artists, performers, entrepreneurs, magician, seer, they encompass a variety of talents, sensibilities, and knowledge both arcane and mundane, in their amazing personages. And they are really nice people!
Nick and Macabre Noir
Here are some other links to their worlds of mystery and decadent beauty:  Nick’s dark and delightful instagrams;  Mac’s instragrams.

Here are links to the original posts for some of the artworks at BBS (I've changed some of the titles):

As you can gather from the name of the shop, Bizarre! Bazaar! caters to those with a darker sensibility. Capitalism with a twist! I’ve been interested since childhood in the macabre. Like my Mom, I loved ghost stories and scary movies. Still do. I’m also interested in the sinister aspects of history, art and literature and I thoroughly enjoy producing collages in that vein. Although my work isn’t all “dark,” a lot of it tilts in the direction of irreverence and irony. It’s a short slide down a slippery slope from that to outright tilted. So…why make “dark art”?

Dark art is, first of all, fantasy. Fantasy without the pink-tailed unicorns and glittering fairy-godmothers come to save the day, but like all fantasy, it is an escape from reality. It can also be an attempt to explain an indecipherable existence, or to build a safe space against an intolerable one. Or simply a way to amuse yourself. Or, perhaps it is just us trying to get comfortable with our own mortality.

Death can be a great enigma to us body-bound souls, lumbering about in our meat machines. (Are we driving it, or is it driving us?)  I guess we usually envisage departure from the meat machine as a traumatic experience, even though, "we" are not destroyed, only sent on to the next leg of the journey, or perhaps reunited with the Source. Yet death evokes all kinds of worrisome questions: Will it hurt? (I doubt if it will be comfortable, if only because the m.m. struggles against its demise.)  Will I go to Heaven?  (Only if you truly believe you will—click your ruby heels together and repeat three times…)   Will I see my departed Loved Ones? (I certainly hope so!) Will I meet the Grand Overall Designer?  (Not if you believe that’s some grouchy, white-bearded patriarch, sitting on a cloud smiting and smoting and generally behaving like a prick.)

Albus Dumbledore, revered by many of us, said:  “To a well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”  So why do we Fear Death?  Probably its simple fear of the unknown:  we can't know for sure what is really, REALLY going to happen beyond that portal. Some of us are comfortable with Mystery, others not so much (they have Religion, the great comfort blanket, instead.)

My very perceptive son recently commented that there are people who get psyched out by the realization that there is whole, working skeleton, right inside them, all the time! “Ewww, creeeeepy!!!”  So let us get used to the fact that we all carry our own creepiness within us. Putting it into artwork is, I think, preferable to letting it turn us into monsters (which, as we see every day on the news, Religion can certainly do.)

NOTE:  if you are the easily offended type, please disregard the parenthetical statements above. HA!!

Another individual revered by many of us, the inimitable Edward St. John Gorey, was asked by his long-time friend, Paul Theroux, (quoted in Theroux's excellent book, The Strange Case of Edward Gorey) why "stark violence and horror and terror were the uncompromising focus of his work." Gorey replied, “I write about everyday life.” In other words, being alive is not for the timid. Witness the Gashleycrumb Tinies! So we use dark art to help us cope, help us laugh--or at least grimly smile-- at the bigger Darkness ahead and within.

Speaking of Albus Dumbledore, I once took a “Sorting Hat test” years ago, on one of the many Harry Potter sites. It put me in Slytherin House. That explains a lot! I was not pleased at the time, but now I say, Wear Your Darkness Proudly!

There is darkness inside all of us…
We are what we are because of it, or perhaps in spite of it. 
Some use it as a shield to hide behind, others as an excuse to do unconscionable things. But, truly, the darkness is simply a piece of the whole, neither good nor evil unless you 
make it so.    
Jenna Maclaine, Bound By Sin

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Collagitation’s new lease on life!

St. Theresa in Excelsis
Recently, a couple of things occurred to bring Collagitation back to life. The first was being contacted in June by Virginia artist Karen Whitehill, who wrote to tell me how much she enjoyed my collages after seeing them on the blog. What a treat that was to hear!  We started emailing and found we have a lot in common, as well as each being able to bring something or someone new and interesting to the other. Karen purchased my collage, St. Theresa in Excelsis, partially by bartering one of her own works. These “bible babes” are digitally altered classic religious paintings.  I love them! Here’s a link to see more of Karen’s fun and witty “Hymn to Her” series:

Being a fan of Shirley Temple since childhood, I chose the Madonna & Child print, with Myrna Loy as the Madonna.

Here also are links to some collage artists of whom I was unaware or had forgotten about, until she brought  them to my attention. Thanks, Karen!

Max Bucaille 
(1906-1996), one of the classic Surrealists:
Max Bucaille, Butterf
Dan Hillier
 A contemporary collagist whose elegant work continuously gives me a 
why-didn’t-I-think-of-that frisson of pleasure.
Dan Hillier, Falls
Claudia Drake
another contemporary surrealist:
Claudia Drake, Fire Walk With Me
Paula Braconnot  
A contemporary French collagist extraordinaire. 
Her site is in French, but you can see her work here: 
and link to her site if you are fortunate enough to know French!

Paula Branconnot, Coq

“Meeting” Karen was the first happy incident recently that resulted from my 2010 collage project.

 More to come!


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