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On Wednesday, I completed my five week collage class at the City Collage Fort Mason campus taught by Lorna Stevens. I can’t say I was particularly pleased with any of my completed assignments, but I feel the processes used will be of use for future efforts. And I enjoyed taking the class with fellow San Francisco Correspondence Co-op members Dorothy Yuki, Pamela Gerard, and Monica Lee. Above is my first week’s effort using the theme “Drawing with Scissors”
By the second week I felt a bit more at home with the process and the assignment of using existing images. Getting three dimensional felt much more familiar and comfortable to me.
The third week artist Kurt Stoller spoke, and we were asked to “channel” using the theme of “Considering Abstraction”. The top piece was the one I was most satisfied with since it was different from my usual pieces that tend to be a bit too literal. It got towards the approach of Kurt Schwitters of focusing on textures and shapes more than trying to have a literal narrative.
The fourth week we were assigned the task of landscapes and cityscapes. I used crow images and photos I took in my neighborhood.
The final assignment was to consider public places, and I titled mine “Kaiser Permamente’s Vision of San Francisco, imagining him not as a health network but an eccentric royal who as a rival of Emperor Norton. I hope to take future classes on the topic, including one on assemblage coming up later this spring.
Wednesday marked week three of five weeks of my collage class at Fort Mason. As the first Wednesday since the time change, I was struck by how wonderful the view is from outside of the class.
Having also managed to head up to the class 15 to 20 minutes earlier and with traffic being surprisingly light, I decided to stroll around the campus instead of just rushing to pay parking and get to class.
It was a reminder that in the busy routines of life and work, it is easy to take for granted the remarkable views here in the city where I live.
Our theme this week was: Considering Abstraction. Guest artist Kirk Stoller shared some of his work and approach. Hi bio billed him as being “interested in the narratives that are created when things are placed on or near one another in his precariously perched forms. ” Kirk shared that he often uses the color yellow that evokes memories of the house he grew up in in rural Oregon. I latched onto that idea and tapped into childhood sensations and textures. It was the first week I felt reasonably comfortable with the process, and I was pleased that my first work produced was less busy and more abstract than usual.
I quickly finished it and moved on to a second work. Then Kirk returned to offer critique. He gave positive feedback to the above work, especially the surprised or emerging red, a color I did not embrace or allow until I was an adult. He was less positive about the second piece (as was I) which felt like a quick knock off, and too static. I described it as having the feel of being in an over air-conditioned doctor’s office in the summer while basso nova Muzak played against murals of Alpine meadows with frolicking fawns. The process felt more organic to me, and channeling aspects of Kurt Schwitters as well as Kirk.
Before going home I did a quick collage “doodle” more typical of ones I have done in the past.
Unsettling as it can feel at the time, any time we leave our comfort zone learning and growth can take place. Last week I began at a six-week collage class at City College’s Fort Mason campus taught by Lorna Stevens, an accomplished collage artist and sculptor who works can be seen here. I signed up with three colleagues from the San Francisco Correspondence Co-op, Dorothy Yuki, Pamela Gerard, and Monica Lee. The first session was a challenge for all four of us. Pamela reflected on the experience here.
The first night I was really tired, and the room was hot, and I felt flustered and was close to walking out because the whole approach felt so unfamiliar. Lorna shared some examples Matisse’s approach to collage. Then each of us stood, sat, or leaned against a table in the center of the room for a minute while the rest of the class was asked to “draw with our scissors”. Then we all had nearly two hours to create a collage. My effort from the first night is shown above. I was not happy with it, felt that I took the concept too literally and that it had no energy. In the remaining 45 minutes of the class, each person’s work was put up front, and one person drew another’s name to offer critique, followed by Lorna. Most of us expressed disappointment with what we created, but there were enlightening observations that many of us had not seen in our own work.
The second session this past Thursday, we focused on creating collage from existing materials. I felt more comfortable with this assignment since it was more architectural and I had time to think it out more. The various doors in the pieces were glued shut except for the one on the upper right which opens to reveal I digital collage. that is below.
I was finished well before the deadline, and Lorna encouraged me to make a second one. In the critique, my classmate said that she liked that these featured imagery that was disturbing but also comforting in that there was symmetry and unity. I came away the second session feeling that I am making progress, rethinking my approach to collage, gaining new skills, and surrounded by a class of supportive, talented artists.
What activity could be more of a waste of time than staring out the window. Or, worse, staring at people. I recently came across this article that puts a new perspective on this activity.
For my basenjis, no indoor activity seems to appeal to them more than staring out the window. It’s not unusual that their stares inspire people to take their photos. I’ve run into many people in the neighborhood who know me as the guy with the two red dogs they enjoy see staring out the window. With the arrival of daylight savings time, I look forward to being able to have a bit more time after work to watch them watching the great “out there” beyond the window pane.
I find having a traditional San Francisco Bay window to be one of the pleasures of living here, even if it looks out on the flat streets of the Mission, not the actual Bay. In my nearly 20 years at the same address, before going to bed, with all the lights out I will stare out the window for a few moments before turning in. For some reason I have long been fascinated by the green light from the door across the street. I’m not sure what fascinates me about it, but I find it calming to look at that faint green light outlined by the curving iron lattice work. Gatsby stood at the end of his pier to see the blink green light on Daisy’s pier across the water. I don’t know that I see it as a beacon to some long ago or lost love, but I often let my thoughts drift into the past. Sometimes I can hear the wind chime in the back yard. It was on my mother’s front porch from the mid-1970s forward, and I could always hear it tinkling in the background when we spoke on the phone on spring or autumn evening phone calls when the weather was neither too warm or cool. I find great comfort in the combination of that sound and the green light, a sense of the past not so far away but just across the street or in the back yard. The departed are departed but not that far away. If I take a moment to look out the window and stare.
In daylight the same door holds less mystery or fascination for me. But there is comfort in knowing that the green glow will be there in a few hours after the sun takes its rest.