Seeing the incredibly diverse collage themed show "Putting It Together" at the Lockwood Gallery in Kingston, NY, I was immediately driven back to my art history roots and began researching its origins. One source credits the beginning of collage as occurring in 10th Century Japan. Artists would glued paper and text on surfaces when writing poetry. I was able to sit down to discuss collage with the Lockwood Gallery Curator Alan Goolman to discuss the current show and the history of collage
Kathleen Cullen: Tell me about the gallery and its mission?
Alan Goolman: The Lockwood Gallery was originally designed and built for the architectural offices of Michael Lockwood, Lockwood Architecture and Dynamism Builders. Just over two years ago, Lockwood made the decision to dedicate a large portion of the space to the creation of an Art Gallery.
The Mission of the Lockwood Gallery is to define itself and contribute positively to the considerable arts community in the Kingston, Woodstock and Saugerties triangle, spotlighting the broad range of exceptional artists living in the Hudson Valley… and more recently beyond.
KC: What was the idea behind the show?
AG: I have always had a strong attraction to roadside billboards and advertising posters -- placed, torn away and endlessly replaced over time-in the New York Subway system. I didn’t recognize it then, but I fell in love with what I’d later come to understand was a form of collage.
The Lockwood Gallery is recognized for mounting group shows built on a strong narrative or unifying theme. "Putting It Together" achieves that in a very big way -- 21 artists in an expansive exploration of a single theme-collage.
KC: What you just described is decollage. This is a French term for art created by ripping sections of posters off a wall. One of the best known of these artists is Mimmo Rotella. Rotella took his inspiration from the streets and utilized advertisements in the assemblage of his work. In this show you have a wide array approaches to collage. For example you have Andrea Burgay who has a heavy build up of torn paper from books and magazines that when completed looks layers of time. Then there is the work of Carole Kunstadt. She applies ink and thread to 19th century Dantier' Paris music manuscripts in a format that looks like she is weaving an abstraction that has the power to transport you in the same way music does. How did you select the work? How did their individual styles fit in with the show?
AG: I am familiar with Mimmo Rotella. I remember the first time I stood in front of a monumental piece of his art (It might have been in the Tate Modern or The Pompidou Center, I'm not sure) I was knocked back on my heels. I remember thinking, "Billboards!" As to decollage, I have to admit that I learned of the term decollage working with Andrea Burgay.
I was fully convinced that collage, as a category, was strong enough to build a show upon. The individual styles of the 21 artists I selected for the show never entered the equation. In context, Andrea Burgay and Carole Kunstadt work perfectly together. It's like tasting menu of chocolate. In the end its all chocolate
As you know, I am what I refer to as an outsider curator. My roots are in the beauty industry. I rely on my experience in brand development, color development, and my unique understanding of applied color theory to curating. For me, curating a collection of lipsticks and curating a show for the gallery have many similarities. I use the unique formation of our gallery walls and my understanding how color works to create carefully tuned visual relationships and transitions throughout. In some ways this is what defines us as a gallery and what we have become known for.
KC: Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque began creating collage as early as 1910. The used found objects, chair canning and newsprint to push art in a different direction and we’re revolutionizing how art was made. In Dadaism and Modernism the use of collage was politically motivated. It was after World War 1 and in a way the artists assembly of different images and objects was asking the viewer to reframe how they see the world. Putting a show together is always an education of sorts-is that true of this exhibition? What did you learn? What surprises arose?
AG: This answer is a bit tongue-in-cheek. True, we learn something from every show. This was especially true of this show. For me personally, I learned that I should never again try to put together a show from twelve hundred miles away from home. As to surprises, I have to admit that I underestimated how huge and beloved collage is globally. The other surprise was, when I returned home it became abundantly clear that from a distance, I the gallery was nowhere near as I imagined it to be.
KC: What do you hope viewers will take with them?
AG: The Lockwoood Gallery is a relatively new gallery. Our location makes us a destination gallery which makes it absolutely essential that when a viewer leaves, they remember their entire experience -- the art, the installation, the space and the narrative. Ultimately, we hope the viewer will take away the desire to return.
The Lockwood Gallery, 747 NY-28, Kingston, NY 12401
Through March 26th. Hours: Thursday - Sunday 11 to 6pm