Thursday, September 15, 2022

2022 09 Gary's Flea Market at Shake Rag Alley

I was very pleased to be selected to teach a class at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point (WI) this September. Here is the class description for Gary's Flea Market: Some Assemblage May Be Required:

"What is assemblage? According to the Encarta Dictionary: Assemblage (is) a work of art made from a collection of different objects. Gary will be teaching the history of assemblage, the basics of assemblage construction and some focus points to keep your project on track.

Have you ever wanted to do assemblage but feel like you do not have enough stuff? That has never been a problem for Gary so he is offering an assemblage workshop where EVERYTHING YOU WILL NEED is going to be provided. Gary hopes you will walk into this workshop with nothing and allow the materials he provides to inspire you.

You will be able to select a base/frame for your project from Gary’s stash, find a core central object and then learn how to build an assemblage by selecting from Gary’s collection of weird odds and ends. You will learn how to attach objects together and decorate them into a unified work of art. The goal is an assemblage work made from found objects that tells a story. The three days should allow for more than one project to be started if not completed.

Throughout the class there will be time built in to share ideas, review our work and learn from fellow participants. 

3 days, free crap, cool works of art and lots of fun—what more are you looking for?"

One of the ulterior motives for teaching this class was to get rid of some of the junk I have accumulated that I no longer think I want to use. So on Tuesday, Denice and I loaded the van with junk and made the two hour trip to Shake Rag to unload.

We drove back to Milwaukee that night, rested, loaded the van again, and drove two hours back out to Shake Rag for the second unloading on Wednesday.

We slept in Mineral Point Wednesday night with Thursday as a set up day. 

Some of the found objects we brought for the attendees to use in their projects

Some of the substrates we provided
(this picture was taken Day Two after the pile was picked over)

Class samples by me and various assemblage artists

The attendee side of the Lind Pavilion
Each attendee got some Aves Clay, E600 and various tools for art making and their own work table

Having worked hard on Wednesday and Thursday morning, set up was done by Noon. It was then that Denice and I made the decision to make one more run back and forth to Milwaukee (two hours each way) because...I had forgot to load the drill press.

We made it back by dinner time and joined Gail Willert and Karen and Pat Robison for dinner at Grey Dog.

The first day of class was Friday, September 9th. How many people were in the class? We had filled the class at 16 before we got there but the week of the class two people were unable to attend. However, one person signed up the week of the class and another on Friday, the first day, so we ended up with 16 attendees in the workshop.

During the early hours of the workshop I demoed how to select objects for a project and these were my choices. I would use these items throughout the workshop as demo pieces.


That teaching moment when you want to disguise the fact
that you have glued your hand to your project

Thankful no one was watching when
you drill into your own finger

We made a pilgrimage up the High Street hill to Green Lantern Studios to see the exhibition of photography that is Small Matters: Found Object Still Lives Up Close and Personal by Chicago photographer Patrick Carr. 

The class was privileged to be able to tour the Glimmering Prize Gallery and hear from Mineral Point assemblage artist Lorraine Reynolds.

We also made a stop at Longbranch Gallery where owner Sandy Scott is featuring the work of assemblage artist Beth Hobby.

Testing to see if the box you set on fire is really hot

Remember the challenge to these attendees was that no one could pre-plan their project. When Denice pulled the sheets off the objects tables at the beginning of day one, revealing for the first time what was below, the attendees had to grab, go and make art. That is not easy.

One of the things that surprised me about teaching assemblage to this group was that I was able to watch found objects I had rescued for art I wanted to make disappear into the work of other artists without any anxiety. I thought this would be painful to watch, that I might want to grab things out of people's hands as they selected them for their own art...but that did not happened. 

Another thing that surprised me was how, despite the fact that we had people who had never done assemblage all the way up to experience artists, everyone got to work right away without too many issues. The amount of work that everyone got done in three days was very satisfying to me as the provider. My hope is that the participants were as happy as I was with the results of the three days.

Let's meet the participants:









Special Recognition Award for Best Dressed Attendee
"Going All Gary"









Here are the alumni of Gary's Flea Market: Some Assemblage May Be Required

I would like to thank all the participants in the Flea Market for making the weekend as much fun as it could be. Your courage to believe in the process was wonderful to watch.

I would like to thank Shake Rag Alley and its hard working staff for making a facility of this quality available to people like us who blow in one day, wreck the joint and blow out when it is done. We appreciate all the hard work you do all year round to make this available to us.

Lastly, my love and thanks to my aide-de-camp for the Flea Market: Denice Niebuhr. Always.

1 comment:

  1. A whole lot of talented people in this class! Enjoyed seeing pics of all the creations. Great job Gary!