Thursday, June 8, 2017

Connections Art Exhibition, Re:Vision Gallery, Kenosha, WI, June, 2017


Re:Vision Gallery and Artist Studio
4625 Sheridan Rd, Kenosha, WI 53140

In the Fall of 2016 my good friend Cris Smith came to me with news that Marjorie Meyer at Re:Vision Gallery and Artist Studio in Kenosha, WI, was looking for exhibitors for her gallery.  When I went to the gallery and met Marjorie, she let me know that June, 2017, would be the second anniversary of her gallery and she wanted something special.  It occurred to me that if I combined the talents of my friends from ten years of assemblage work, we could put on quite a show.

A reception for the exhibition will be held on Saturday, June 10, 2017, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m,  The art will hang in the gallery from June 1st to June 25th.

Exhibition Statement:

The definition of assemblage could be synthesized down to the ability to connect two or more disparate objects into a work of art.  In the process of learning the keys of assemblage, curator Gary Warren Niebuhr has made connections to many artists.  This show will bring works by these artists together as assemblage has brought them together as friends.

Gary took the first art class of his life at Valley Ridge Art Studio near Muscoda, Wisconsin, in 2007.  Valley Ridge was the creation of Katherine Engen.  Her ability to unite world-class instructors with eager students in a nurturing environment is legendary.  Many of the artists in this exhibition experienced Valley Ridge and some continue to stay in the fold by attending the ArtVentures workshop hosted by Katherine in New Orleans every pre-Mardi Gras season.  Katherine gave Gary a new identity in life and that is why she is one of The Major Trifecta artist included in this show.

The first class that Gary took at Valley Ridge Art Studio in 2007 was with found object assemblage artist Michael deMeng.  Gary has taken over 40 workshop experiences with Michael since 2007 including online, in-person and remote travel sessions.  Gary’s favorite experience with Michael is the annual trips to Mexico to experience Dia de los Muertos which they have done in Mexico City, San Cristobel de la Casa and the favorite spot—Oaxaca where they will be in October of this year.  Most of the artists in this show have taken at least one Michael deMeng workshop and some are as obsessive about it as Gary is.  Meeting Michael has allowed Gary to grow into being an artist and that is why he is one of The Major Trifecta artist included in this show.

When Michael deMeng married Andrea Matus deMeng, Gary gained another instructor and a third radical departure in his art life.  Andrea is a gorgeous collage artist but even more—she is as good as instructor as Michael.  Now Michael shares time in Gary’s workshop schedule with Andrea as he discovered it is possible to include collage and assemblage in the same projects.  Gary will be taking workshops with Andrea in Phoenix Arizona and at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point this fall.  Andrea is the latest example of how connecting with someone can change a person’s directions and that is why she is one of The Major Trifecta artist included in this show.

Each of the 12 other artists in this show has touched my life through art.  When I conceived of a show that would be a ten year retrospective of my life as an artist, it only seemed fitting to honor the relationships I have developed over the years with these people as artists, friends, and instructors.  It is an honor to have all of them as participating artists in this show called Connections.

Thanks to Re:Vision Gallery and Marjorie Meyer for providing the place where all this magic could happen.

Let's take a walk around the gallery and meet the artist and their work.

The stairwell leading to the gallery contains my art and the exhibition statement from above.

Where Everything Weeps For How The World Goes (GWN)

Mister Happy Flaps His Wings (GWN)

One of LORRAINE REYNOLDS pieces at the top of the stairs.
New Hampshire Primary
Found Object Assemblage

My work

My work

The view of the gallery from the top of the stairs

Angelica (Soul House Shrine)
Found Object Assemblage

Travels with Kwan Yin
Found Object Assemblage

Mineral Point, Wisconsin

"My work is about redemption. It’s about repurposing and
reclaiming. I work with materials that most people would consider worthless or disposable. I purposely seek out the cast off, the unwanted, the lost and forgotten. I find beauty in the mundane and ordinary. I find power and energy in the secret untold stories hiding inside found objects. “Objets trouve´” are my art materials. I use them like other people use paint, paper, pencil and pen. I combine disparate objects together in assemblages; visual, 3-dimensional collages that are steeped in nostalgia and speak to the past. My goals are to eliciting emotion and awaken remembrance. It is about exploring the place in the mind where seeing and knowing intersect."

Lorraine Reynolds works in a multiple mediums ranging from fabric, collage and assemblage to video and installation. She recently relocated from New England to the Midwest with her husband, her two sons and her enormously affectionate German Shorthair Pointer. She currently resides in Dodgeville, WI.  Lorraine is trained as a technical designer in the apparel industry and has a secret other life as a costume designer for theatre and films. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is an arts educator, teaching workshops and courses at national and regional art centers and retreats. She has immersed herself in the local art scene. In November 2016, she opened a small mixed-use gallery/studio space on High Street in Mineral Point called the Glimmering Prize. This is her second year serving on the board of directors for Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts.

Gary adds:  "One of the cool things about knowing The Major Trifectas is that you get to meet other artist and instructors.  One of those is Lorraine.  Her work with Shake Rag Alley has led to it being a venue where Michael and Andrea can now teach—and she teaches there as well.  I know because she has taught me her appreciate of assemblage, collage and book arts.  I am looking forward to my classes with her this summer.  Thanks for being in the show, Teach."

Jewels of Our Time

Star Prairie, Wisconsin

"A lightning strike that blew out, fried, and otherwise destroyed many of the appliances and electronics in our home was the event that led me to Assemblage. Quite literally it lit up my life and opened my eyes! I found the destroyed items fascinating and began to dismantle them. One unscrewed bolt led to another and another. Soon I was hooked on using interesting parts of one thing with altered parts of something else, “up cycling” it, and creating a new “assemblage.” When putting together these interesting pieces and parts, that I have collected through the years, I rely totally on my intuition and creative force. The piece defines itself as I work on it, developing a theme of its own. While the lightning strike happened several years ago, the wonder and discovery of how to repurpose and use my coveted collection of objects and parts in other ways, is the driving force behind my pieces. My attraction to all things rusty, mechanical, and functional has happily landed me in the midst of the Steampunk culture. The problem solving, connecting disparate objects, altering their appearance physically and mechanically and melding them into a finished work provides inspiration for a lifetime of new creations. I love creating artwork that invites the viewer to think... to discover... to enjoy."

Gary adds:  "I met Judy at one of the first Michael deMeng workshops I took at Valley Ridge Art Studio.  The work she accomplished in the class made me think she could be teaching it.  For ten years I have been watching her art via Facebook but we have never had the chance to meet again…except through this exhibition.  It is an honor to have her art in this show."

The Amazing Budgie Girl!
Found objects, clay, paint

North American Jackalope
Found objects, clay, paint

Centzon Totochtin, or Aztec Drunk Rabbit God (#43 out of 400)
Found objects, clay, paint

Santa Rose, California

"Animals have always been the main theme of my work, since I was doodling in my notebooks in grammar school. I've been a collector for most of my life, gathering trinkets and ephemera from my travels and everyday life. Once I discovered assemblage, I was able to combine my love of collecting with my need to make art. I really enjoy creating fanciful creatures and alternate realities, with the most rewarding part of the process being the transformation of the disparate objects with clay and paint into something entirely new."

Gary adds:  "I met Sue on the remote Michael deMeng workshops in Mexico and New Orleans.  Sue is a jewelry artist who needs to work more in assemblage as she has an extraordinary since of whimsy that is evident in her work.  No secret here:  she is also quite the party girl and always have on the excursions.  Thanks for being in the show, Amazing Budgie Girl!"

The work of the three jewelry artists.

Waukesha, Wisconsin

"Through a peculiar fascination at a very young age for arranging the items atop my Grandmother Mae’s bureau, I began a lifelong love of chess-like moves with the kings, queens, knights and pawns of her perfume bottles, costume jewelry, Band-Aids, powder tins, nylon peds, hair curlers, loose change, and emery boards. To this day, I love creating a new narrative from found elements of varying origin, juxtaposing them—often auditioning short-lists of my own, odd plucking—and connecting them through cold connections (as diverse as knotting, crocheting and hand-stitching, to wire means of simple staples through elaborate jig-formed captures)—and my own Scrappy Soldering technique. My art jewelry pieces tell my story through a new lens and a disparate secret code of color, texture and minimal engineering; their stories only told then the viewer spins their own endings to my carefully curated, but half-told tales."

Gary adds:  "I met this extraordinary artist and teacher at Valley Ridge Art Studio.  Since then she has been my teacher and my partner when we hosted a Michael deMeng workshop in Waukesha, WI, in 2014.  Brenda’s ability to united jewelry and found objects is extraordinary and I am so glad she is in this show.  Thanks, Brenda, for getting one thing off my bucket list—hosting a Michael deMeng workshop in my hometown."

Jet Plane to Emerald City by Brenda Schweder & Annie Pennington
Dishwasher detergent pull tab, polymer clay mosaic cabochon, steel, bath toy, turquoise, ready-made tassels, waxed linen.  Wire-jig worked, Spiro Gyra wire captured, punched, laced, and knotted. (Cabochon: mosaic, compressed, sanded.) 

Side Show Attraction: The Kissing Couple & Jingo Flamingo
Kissing couple carved mechanical bottle cork, found painted metal, toy flamingo, found rope, freshwater pearls, steel.  Wire captured, wire worked, wire-jig worked, knotted, pierced, sawn.

Moon Over the Quick Brown Fox
Found wire with entangled screw, zipper, hook, fox tchotchke, crystal pendant, model railroad moss, chain, linen.  Sewn, glued, cold-connected, tied.

Where Holsum Meets Smashed  (Inspired by Robert Ebendorf’s In The Can Series)
Leinenkugel beer can, promotional pencil, nametag clip, vintage brooch, pompom trim, steel wire, vintage beads, onyx, linen.  Pierced, strung, cold-connected, tied.

Oak Creek, Wisconsin

"Cris Smith is a local artist who enjoys making found object jewelry. Currently, long walks along the shores of Lake Michigan provide her with objects and inspiration.  She combines her treasures with steel wire, natural stones, and beads to create wearable art that is both bold and unique."

Gary adds:  "Cris and I met at Valley Ridge Art Studio.  Cris and I are not afraid to put long hours in the workshop in the evenings and this had led to our friendship over the years.  I hope I am not enabling you, Cris, but if you ever need someone to say you can buy The Boots, just make sure I am nearby.  Thanks for your friendship." 

Garden Path
Steel Wire, Jasper, Leather, Lake Michigan Beach Glass. Length can be adjusted from 18 inches to 20 inches.

Summer Sunrise
Steel Wire, Vintage Lucite, Lake Michigan Beach Glass. Length can be adjusted from19 ½ inches to 20 ½ inches.

Spring Morning

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

"Through Gary I was fortunate to meet steel wire artist Brenda Meintz Schweder.  Brenda inspired me to use steel wire to make jewelry.  I find objects in nature, at flea markets, and in my husband’s “stash” and use them in my designs.  I am especially drawn to vintage 'bling'."

Gary adds:  "With the love and support of my wife Denice I am so lucky to be able to take advantage of all the art opportunities that come my way.  I love it when Denice is a part of the art world and we enjoy our weekends with the artists in the Make What Ya Brung gang.  I love you, Babe."  

Leaf Girl
Steel wire, vintage jewelry

Golden Girl
Vintage chain from chandelier, vintage jewelry

Rocking It
Steel wire, stone, vintage chain from chandelier

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

"Andrea Matus deMeng is a mixed media artist living in Vancouver BC who exhibits as well as teaches her unique combination of painting, collage, assemblage and sculpture throughout the world.  In her art, Andrea creates powerful portraits skillfully combining colour, symbolism and ornamentation. Each motif is a transport to a different time and place, and through the process unrelated and discordant shapes and designs are manipulated to find balance and harmony where at first there seems none. Her passions and strong feminine aesthetic can be seen in all of her endeavours. The improvisational nature of collage coupled with the very deliberate method of painting creates a balance of spontaneity and premeditation in her work.   Inspired by her extensive travels, a unique personal history, and too many artistic influences to list, Andrea hopes to inspire others to live their creative lives and pursue their dreams of transformation."

Gary adds:  "Michael deMeng has taught me more than just assemblage…he introduced me to Andrea Matus deMeng.  She is a magnificent artist whose work never fails to intrigue.  Her teaching skills have opened up the world of collage to me and now I cannot stop.  I have taken six art experiences with Andrea including studying with her in New Orleans and Cortona, Italy.  I am eager to take the next one this November at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point.  I am so happy to have her as one of The Major Trifectas in this show.  Thanks for all you have done for me, Teach." 

Mixed Media Book

The Watcher
Mixed Media Book


And There She Remained

Mixed Media Collage

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

"Michael deMeng is an assemblage artist from Vancouver, Canada who exhibits throughout the world.   In his art, he addresses issues of transformation. Discarded materials find new and unexpected uses in his work; they are reassembled and conjoined with unlikely components, a form of rebirth from the ashes into new life and new meaning.  These assemblages are metaphors for the evolutions and revolutions of existence: from life to death to rebirth, from new to old to renewed, from construction to destruction to reconstruction. These forms are examinations of the world in perpetual flux, where meaning and function are ever-changing."

Gary adds:  "I have taken over 40 art experiences with my mentor, or as I call him:  Master, O My Master.  He is the lynch pin in this show as one of The Major Trifectas.  I took my first art class at Valley Ridge Art Studio in 2007.  At that work shop I did not know the difference between gel and gesso—and went home with a piece of art I could be proud of thanks to the consummate teaching skills of Michael.  I have since been taught in workshops, on-line, and at Michael’s magnificent art excursions that include Mexico, New Orleans and Cortona, Italy.  I can honestly say that my life changed when I met Michael deMeng and for that I will be eternally grateful.  Thanks for being who you are, Master O My Master."

Assemblage and Acrylic

Two Face
Assemblage and Acrylic

Man in the Moon
Assemblage and Acrylic

Wyrd Sisters
Assemblage and Acrylic


Birth of a Wood Nymph

Story Book Kids

Taylor Ridge, Illinois

"I work in assemblage, painting, encaustic, and collage.  I was away from my art for decades; upon returning to art, I felt out of touch with the vast array of products and techniques that had evolved over the decades away. This led me to attending workshops ranging from a few hours long to 3 and 4 day workshops in any medium I found intriguing.  At first, when I returned to art, I used old family photos in various ways in my art.    My love of times past has led me to old, weathered, vintage objects for my assemblage art.  I still love old photos, but only use family pictures for art held in my own collection. I am drawn to how one object relates to another or to an old cabinet card or photo to generate a story.  Most of my work’s theme revolves around children and animals and ranges from dark to whimsical."

Gary adds:  "I met Lynn at Valley Ridge Art Studio when Kelley Clarke and I convinced her that her first Michael deMeng workshop was a great time to take a master class.  Lynn is a self-proclaimed workshop junkie and we have shared time at Art is You, Create, Make What Ya Brung as well as the New Orleans experiences.  Lynn—you are a great Art Buddy and it is always fun to hang out with you.  Thanks for being in the show."

Man’s Best Friend
Mixed Media Assemblage

Mixed Media Assemblage

Mixed Media Assemblage

Buffalo, New York

"The assemblage work of Deborah Petronio is both whimsical and funky. Her style ranges through kitsch, to steampunk, to slightly disturbing. One thing that permeates all of her assemblages, whether it be a piece of jewelry or the head of an old doll that opens to reveal a secret compartment is the use of vintage and recycled materials. Her goal is to use these materials in new and unexpected ways. Frequently people see one of her creations and it evokes a long lost childhood memory. The doll heads in particular beckon to a past era when there was no plastic, and craftsmanship was seen in everyday objects."

"Deborah was seen to have both the artistic bent and the hoarding gene early in life. Her parents would often find her collecting pretty pebbles at the end of the driveway or at the beaches of Lake Ontario. She always seemed to have collections of tiny things and tiny intricate assemblages were some of her first art pieces. She made tiny Fimo figures and placed them into jars for snow globes. Today she creates her tiny scenes inside of doll heads as if they are thoughts or dreams. Her mediums have evolved from play dough to Fimo to porcelain. She then learned how to create in lampworked glass. After a hiatus to attend dental school ( where she learned how to sculpt teeth inside someone's mouth) she returned to the art scene with her dolls and jewelry featuring altered and repurposed treasures. Her pieces include interesting parts such as clock works, chandelier parts, drawer hardware, and doll parts dug up from bombed out factories in Germany. She scours flea markets, antique sales, and the Internet to find inspiration for her work. While appreciating the item for its original purpose, she has a knack for seeing its potential for her art."

"Her art is currently being sold at several Galleries including Urban Design in East Aurora, NY. She also participates in art festivals and art walks in her local area. Her goal is to be represented in a few special galleries where her work can be enjoyed by that special kind of person who shares her vision of a more playful world."

Gary adds:  "I met Deb at a Michael deMeng workshop at Valley Ridge where she sat next to me and made pieces so entertaining that I wanted to buy them all.  Speaking of entertaining, Deb is a bundle of energy and always fun to have on excursions like New Orleans.  She now teaches her own classes and those are on my bucket list of classes to be."  

Fairey Queen
Photography, paint, found objects

Sea Dance
Cyanotype on ceramic, found objects

Celtic Geometry
Silkscreen on ceramic, etching on copper, found objects

Burlington, Wisconsin

"In my art I enjoy using varied media – ceramics, acrylics, photography, printmaking, etc. Taking the next step and combining these created objects with found objects into an assemblage is even more fun. These objects combine and contrast with one another – visually playing off their shapes and colors and metaphorically jostling the meanings and associations that we give them to create a whole new reality."

Gary adds: " I first “met” Gail when I saw her extraordinary art hanging on gallery walls.  Luckily, I also met her and we have become art buddies.  Gail took the Michael deMeng workshop in 2014 and is a founding member of the WIzards of Blage, a Milwaukee-based group of assemblage artist.  Gail—you work never ceases to amaze me."

Hard Wired #1
Vintage Bird Cage; Hand: Smooth-Cast® 320 resin; Books: Kozo Bark Lace Paper, Cave Paper paper, University of Iowa handmade paper, Kozo Bark Lace, Walnut & Sumi Ink, Portfolio Oil Pastels, Mica, 2 & 3-ply Irish Linen waxed thread.

Hard Wired #2
Acrylic, Resin, Wire, Cave Paper paper, 16th Century Danish Bible papers, Waxed Linen Thread.

Hard Wired #3
Hand: Smooth-Cast® 320 resin.
Book: University of Iowa handmade paper, Kozo Bark Lace, Walnut & Sumi Ink, Portfolio Oil Pastels, Mica, Mini eyelets and washer, 3-ply Irish Linen waxed thread. 
Hand: $150.00    Book:  $300.00 

Madison, Wisconsin

"As I thought about this exhibition, I was drawn to how important connections are in our lives and how we, human beings, are hardwired to make connections. I contemplated relationships and connections as technology becomes increasingly more prevalent in dictating how we connect and communicate.    I thought, what is one feature we use most often in connecting?  It seems to me it might be our hands.  I then thought about what is one object that seems most vulnerable in this transition? I thought it might be the book." 



"Katherine Engen began making artist books and handmade papers in 1996.  Katherine has taught a variety of workshops on book making and paper making, as well as exhibited handmade papers, handmade books and specialty journals, artists books, at venues such as the Overture Art Center in Madison, the Museum of Wisconsin Artists in West Bend, the U.W. Kohler Art Library in Madison, the Golda Meir Library in Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Arts Board in Madison, the River Arts Gallery in Prairie du Sac, Madison Main Library, and Edgewood College.  Katherine recently was awarded Best in Show at the Museum of Wisconsin Arts for her “Whale” book.  Four of her artist books are in the University of Wisconsin Kohler Art Library’s permanent collection of artist books."

Gary adds:  "Some things change your life forever.  A random Internet search led me to Michael deMeng’s website where I found he was teaching in Wisconsin at a place called Valley Ridge Art Studio.  Katherine Engen’s Valley Ridge Art Studio was a spiritual place.  Many of the artists in this show worked there and they would all agree:  it was Katherine who made Valley Ridge the communal joy that it was.  When the studio portion of Valley Ridge stopped, we were blessed that Katherine decided to continue the possibilities with excursions to New Orleans each year of which I have attended all but one.  I am looking forward to the 2018 trip which will include art, museums, food, music and are own parade through the French Quarter.  Katherine is one of The Major Trifectas of this show.  I am blessed to have met her and to have her change my life.  You make me laugh."

The art gallery from the back of the room

I Have Promised (GWN)

Lord of the Tusk (GWN)

The Graveyard Where You Wept (GWN)

Tiffin, Iowa

"My journey in art is like my journey in life, trying to find the keys to what makes my heart happy.  My current pieces are part of that journey.  They come from exploration of different media, combining the old with the new and play."  

Gary adds:  "I met Kelley through taking classes at Valley Ridge Art Studio.  She and I have been table mates at many workshops and have travelled to remote locations like New Orleans to share the Michael deMeng and Andrea Matus deMeng experience.  When Valley Ridge Art Studio was no more, Kelley and I decided the emotional experience of art and friendship needed to be continued so we formed the Make What Ya Brung art group that meets twice a year in Mineral Point, WI, at Shake Rag Alley.  Thanks, Kelley, just for being the generous person you are."

Key to My Heart #1
Mixed Media Assemblage

Key to My Heart #2
Mixed Media Assemblage

Key to My Heart #3
Mixed Media Assemblage

Louisville, Kentucky

"Making art came to me late in life—I had been ruined by a 7th grade art teacher who didn’t like my apples and oranges.  I now create because it touches my soul and makes me…me."

Gary adds:  "I first met Marilyn on the remote excursions of Michael deMeng.  Since then we have become great friends and table mates all over the world.  “Hey, Marilyn—I think I want to go to Italy!  Do you want to go?”  That is as easy as it is to meet your good friend in a foreign land and have a great time.  Marilyn—your generosity knows no bounds.  You are a great guide through life and I am happy you are my friend."  

Road to Romance

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

She Sees All Past Things Pass (GWN)

Butterfly Garden
Assemblage:  Altered book pages, screenprint, branch, thread and hotfoil.

Painted Lady
Assemblage:  Wire, repurposed paper, thread, altered book, metal and paint.

Bug Books and Found Objects
Assemblage in Hand Made Shadow Box

Big Bend, Wisconsin

"Tori Tasch is an artist and art educator who loves alternative printmaking processes. Tasch uses transfer techniques to create layered effects in her books, collages and prints. She is an art educator for K4-8th grade at a Catholic school and a mentoring artist at RedLine Milwaukee. Tori finds inspiration in living near the river, biking the Bugline, reading, traveling, gardening, cooking and walking her dogs. She maintains an active studio practice and exhibition schedule."

Gary adds:  "I met Tori through Red Line Studio in Milwaukee where she is a mentoring artist.  Tori took the Michael deMeng workshop in Waukesha.  We have keep running into each other at exhibitions and galleries either as artist or curators.  Her tireless work on behalf of all the artists in SE WI is deeply appreciated by me.  Thanks for being the teacher that you are."  

No One at the Home Believed Dot Gale's Wild Stories of Her Youth (GWN)

Capitalist Pig
Assemblage: old highway flare, sculpted doll head, molded clay heads, chain and plastic elephant.

Under the Big Top
Assemblage: Game Board, old train set piece, napkin holders, rubber hands, plastic lion and collage pieces. 

On the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the birth of Henry Darger, artist, protector of children, 1892-1973.
Assemblage: Old game board, wooden shelf and jewelry box pieces, picture frames, religious medallions, plastic flowers, dragon and re-sculpted, articulated figure. Illustration created using the same method that Darger used for his artwork. 

Chicago, Illinois

"My art is often political and “Capitalist Pig” reflects the anger I feel at war being waged not for national security but seemingly for revenge or to save face, specifically, the war in Iraq. Particularly disconcerting is the concept of war as economic stimulus, with companies and individuals profiting from it, with total disregard for the loss of life and the destruction of families on both sides. Many of the young men and women who are enlisted to fight are at the lowest rung of the economic ladder, with unbridled capitalism exploiting their patriotism."

"As a kid, after seeing the Disney movie “Toby Tyler,” I became obsessed with the idea of running away with the circus. This piece celebrates the old-time circus that traveled from town to town across the country. Although now politically incorrect, at one time the use of “trained” elephants, lions and tigers brought much excitement to town folk who had never seen such beasts before. Acrobats twirled high above the crowd performing death-defying feats.  I enjoy creating pieces that evoke a sense of history, whether good or bad, as it is all a part of our collective unconscious."

"I am attracted to and admire outsider artists who, with no training, create art for no other reason than that they simply “must.” Henry Darger, with meager means, proceeded to create an epic, illustrated novel called “In the Realms of the Unreal” featuring the Vivian Girls, young protagonists who battled misfortune in a cruel and violent world, possibly reflecting his own horrific childhood. Darger worked on his project for over 50 years with no thought of recognition, monetary or otherwise."

Gary adds:  "Tom is one of the funniest people I have ever met.  I always want Tom within ear shot at any workshop we attend so that I can hear what he is talking about.  I met Tom through Valley Ridge Art Studio and am very pleased that we continue to see each other at Make What Ya Brung in Mineral Point, WI.  His art work always has clever stories and deep meanings buried with fine sculpture work.  Satire is important in our lives and Tom brings it with each piece he makes." 

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

"Combining disparate objects into one glorious creation is a way of maintaining my sanity.  I enjoy the physicality of assemblage – it takes me away from the everyday world and gives me a tremendous feeling of connection with my inner self."

Gary adds:  "Joanne is a wit.  She needs to be bottled and distributed throughout the world.  I met her on the Michael deMeng remote excursions and they are not the same if she is not along.  I am glad that she can give an international flare to this exhibition. " 

Assemblage (found objects, clay, paint)

Making the Most of a Small Situation
Assemblage (bell jar, found objects, clay, paint)

Aldie, Virginia

"The tactile, 3D art work is relatively new to me.  My entry into the art world, other than a mix of college classes, has been photography.  My attempts in that art form were to create touchy, feelie art, which included encaustics and transfers.  To discover assemblage was an epiphany, an immediate love and satisfaction with art work that begged for a touch, invited the viewer to peer deeper.  My goal is to repurpose items, put them together so they look like they belong and then alter and age them.  I welcome the look of rust, corrosion, lead, and old patinas.  A bit of fantasy, imagination and humor begin and complete each project."

Gary adds:  "Karen is an artist I only see on excursions with Michael de Meng in New Orleans or on Facebook.  She is one of those artists in a workshop that you want to stop by and see how she is progressing—you can learn from your fellow students as well.  Karen and I share a love of photography and both wish those graveyard side trips in NOLA were a little bit longer.  Thanks for sharing your artistry with this show."  

Once Upon a Time

His Heart Was in the Right Place

Year of the Goat

Los Gatos, California

"There's too much virtual in the world. Give me toys. Give me clay. Give me random and discarded objects. I want to get messy and play with things in real space to give form to whatever might be playing in my head.  My creations are often the result of a memory, experience or story. Whatever the initial spark, music is always there, filling my ears as I work and, sometimes, working its way into a piece. Lately, one of my favorite quotes has been in heavy rotation, "Where's there's music, there can be no evil." by Cervantes. So, I again step away from the virtual and, with music, create something new."

Gary adds:  "K.D. is an example of someone I now know only because of art workshops with Michael deMeng.  We shared a love of assemblage but also a love of photography and music.  K.D. was even brave enough to have me as a table mate and serves as my translator on the Mexican experiences.  It is an honor to have her work in this show."

Where There's Music ...
Mixed Media Objects, Clay, Acrylic Paint

Her Master's Voice
Mixed Media Objects, Clay, Acrylic Paint

To Chairish (GWN)

There Is Nothing Inside Me But A Large Wound, A Hollow Place Where No One Goes (GWN)

Thanks for taking the tour around the exhibition.  I hope you get a chance to see it in person.  


  1. Gary this is fabulous. I read every word ( some twice🤓). I wish Tampa wasn't so far away. I would LOVE to see this is person. You be done yourself proud!!!!

  2. Wow Gary! You must be bursting!😊. What a wonderful showing. I am honored to be a part of it!

  3. Amazing Gary! What talent! Thanks for the tour! Wish I could be there!

  4. Wow! That is some seriously cool stuff! Congrats to Gary and all the artists!