Sunday, January 29, 2017

You Cannot Tell Whether the Color Clinging to Those Distant Doors and Walls is That of Roses or of Blood: the Mad Alchemist's Freakfest with Michael deMeng in Mineral Point

You Cannot Tell Whether the Color Clinging to Those Distant Doors and Walls
 is That of Roses or of Blood

The Mad Alchemist's Freakfest with Michael deMeng in Mineral Point, WI, 2016

Katherine Engen at Valley Ridge Art Studio worked her magic again to bring assemblage artist Michael deMeng to Wisconsin for a workshop.  The workshop title was The Mad Alchemist's Freakfest and here is the course description from the website:

"Grab some stuff…some new…some rough.  Bring your gears, Mickey Mouse souvenirs, old cans for beers, perhaps some shiny chandeliers. You might prefer something off the wall, a bocce ball, a broken doll, or a bust of Charles de Gaulle.  Next we need some glues, screws, power tools, adhesive goos and paints in a variety of hues.   Power up those Dremel and give’m a test…. everybody do the Mad Alchemist Freak Fest!

Artists are renowned for using whatever is readily available in their surroundings to create art.  In many ways, this is why the process of assemblage has become so popular; after all, junk and discarded things abound. Perfect pickings for artists with a knack for junking and dumpster diving.
In this class we’re going to take anything and everything and transform it into something of value. We are taking trash and turning it into something seemingly sacred.  Sounds ironic doesn’t it?   Well look at it this way…like the Alchemists of long ago, we too will be transforming base metals into gold…metaphorically speaking.   All this will be done with a bit of sculpture, collage, and paint.   Time to take the 'blahs' out of 'assemblage'".

The activities opened with an optional pre-workshop visit to Wisconsin's wacky and world famous House on the Rock in Spring Green.

Even two men going to the bathroom is different at the House.

The workshop was held in the Lind Pavilion on the Shake Rag Alley campus.  It is an airy and well lit open space that works great for assemblage construction.

My corner of the universe.

The Mad Scientist in the Corner

Photo by Katherine Engen

Don't ask.

El Maestro

Photo by Katherine Engen

Photo by Katherine Engen

 On Saturday the town of Mineral Point had an Art Parade.

On High Street there was an artist studio that had fallen into disrepair.  It was owned by Professor Jamie Ross who had a massive collection of textiles and other stuff.  The door was open and I poked my head in but the smell of mold drove me right out again.  (In late 2016, this building did collapse onto itself).  

Professor Ross's Marcel Duchamp replica

The group regularly dines together.

Here are the results of setting assemblage artist loose in Southwest WI.  Michael deMeng is a master at the critique and it is a highlight for all who participate.   

...and then we could all relax.

Photo by Cris Smith

Michael deMeng is returning to Mineral Point this June.  This time he is coming as a part of the Shake Rag Alley catalog and the course description can be found here.  

The piece that I created during the week was begun at home.  

It started with a Marlboro Country Store dart board I bought at a garage sale.  The guy I bought it from told me he could smoke enough to get the dart board but never smoked enough to get the pool table.

Out came the dart board and the scoreboards.

I auditioned the parts I wanted to add at home before the workshop.

My table in Mineral Point.

I covered the outside of the box with old pattern paper.

The altar was constructed and attached to the top.

I wanted to use these trowels as my door handles.

Michael uses the burning of my altar as a life lesson for the class.

I bought this ex-voto at a flea market in Italy.
That is a fact that is not all that important except it lets me say, 
I bought this ex-voto at a flea market in Italy.

This tin type was painted and added to the mix.

This was pretty much how far I got in Mineral Point.

I took the piece home and improved it.

The statute and the snakes were jettisoned.  It took me quite I while to go with a relic to replace them.

Sometimes text can really enhance a piece.

So, after work at home, work in the workshop and work at home again we have:

You Cannot Tell Whether the Color Clinging to Those Distant Doors and Walls
 is That of Roses or of Blood

The title comes from the poem The City from Here contained in The Rebel's Silhouette:  Selected Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz