“Purple Strips Striping,” a merge collage created by artists Matthew J. Peake, Gordon Korstange, and Gretchen Abendschein.
Courtesy photo
“Purple Strips Striping,” a merge collage created by artists Matthew J. Peake, Gordon Korstange, and Gretchen Abendschein.

Artists to share collaborative works at Main Street Arts

SAXTONS RIVER — Three artists will present their collaborative works titled, "Merge Collages: A Show and Tell Experience," at Main Street Arts (MSA) in Saxtons River, opening Saturday, Sept. 9. They will also offer two workshops on creating Merge Collages.

The art show will display a number of collaborative and individual works of Matthew J. Peake, Gordon Korstange, and Gretchen Abendschein. Individual pieces will be available for purchase, with a portion of the sales going to MSA.

"We have chosen some of our Merge Collages for your viewing pleasure along with the written descriptions. Feel free to ask us any questions as you view them," said Peake in a news release.

According to Peake, the collaborative works stem from a game the three artists play. "For the past two years on many Thursday mornings, you would find the three of us sitting around a table piled high with magazines and picture cards to play Merge Collage," he said.

The game begins by each player offering up a rule (like a Surrealist game), such as "each image has to have the color blue somewhere in it."

Then colored pieces of paper are distributed. Each artist searches the stack of materials for an image that fits the three rules and that they connect to - for reasons each may not know. Then out come the scissors and the rubber cement.

After 10 minutes, a chime rings and they pass the collage and continue looking for images that will interact with what has already been created. They repeat this process for three rounds.

On (1)subsequent rounds, each artist puts a random word on the emerging collage. Then a final image is added. They view the creations and discuss merging process and the resulting pieces.

Finally, they each take one collage home to describe the piece in writing. The prompt could be something such as "make one of the figures or objects speak." The words in the image must be incorporated into the description.

The two workshops will basically follow the same game in groups of three attendees with guidance from the artists.

Abendschein said of her work, "Alone, I create from an inner landscape of dreamlike images that speak the language of symbolism. Through my paintings I step into a timeless realm of altered dimensions. My artwork is a meditation inspired by the fertile unknown ground within.

"Together, we suspend investment in the finished product in celebration of the process, relinquishing individual control to the whims of another's artistic sensibilities. We form three facets of one integrated collage-making entity," she continued. "Alone, I write about the collages we create together."

Korstange shared his experience with collages. "As a poet and musician, I'm happy to be making collages one day a week instead of staring all morning at one of my poems that needs... well, something. Or practicing a raga for a gig that exists only in my mind. But every Thursday, I can join my friends around a big table and glue images down on paper like a third grader (I so loved finger painting).

"This time around, I bring my interests in Dada and Surrealism to the cooperative games we play, plus the challenge of writing an Ekphrastic - Greek for "description" - where at least there are multiple images to tickle the imagination," Korstange continued. "I wish to thank my mentor, (2)GorMatt StrangePeak of Happenstance, Vermont, for guiding me on the path of Merge Collage."

Peake said, "I began my professional career in 1982 as a family physician in rural Vermont. After 24 years, I left my practice of medicine to pursue a full-time career in the creative arts. That pursuit has taken me from painting in pastel, acrylic, and oil to composing in collage and assemblage; to inventing some unique ways of exhibiting artwork; to dancing and teaching dance; and to writing in diverse genres.

"Collaboration as a way of creating became a focus of mine from the very beginning of my creative career, and has continued in my art-making with many individuals and groups, the most recent examples being with Merge Collage artists, Gordon and Gretchen," he continued.

The art exhibit will open with an event on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 5 to 8 p.m., and will run through Oct. 29. The workshops will be on Sundays, Sept. 24 and Oct. 15, at 2 p.m. The fee for the workshop is $20 per person. For more information or questions, contact MSA at 802-869-2960 or [email protected].

This The Arts item was submitted to The Commons.

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