What a thrill it was to hang my show at Guardino Gallery a couple of weeks ago. I always like behind the scenes photos, so I thought it would be fun to share the highlights of the hanging on May 25, 2022. My show partner, Nadine Gay, was there with her husband, and my husband/studio assistant/business manager showed up and did a bit of everything to help get the show hung. It took six of us four hours to get the whole show hung.
I did an earlier post about Howard’s hanging of my 25-piece grid made up of individual 8×8 inch pieces, and you can see that post by clicking here.
I am pleased to offer an article written by guest Howard Collins. Howard is my spouse of 49 years and for the past year, the business manager for my art practice. Howard is my number one fan and his taste in art has evolved through the years, which prompted him to write this article for my blog.
“Ugh.” “I don’t get it.” “That’s weird.” “What’s the point?”
These words have admittedly come from me about abstract art.
My gradual transformation into appreciating and loving abstract works has taken time. Unlike the acquired taste for kombucha, which took real effort and perseverance, coming to love abstract art was more evolutionary than effort.
My early years of art appreciation was not as a result of education. It was more akin to “Me like, pretty,” when I saw something that caught my eye. But art has always been important to me regardless of my ignorance. My eye was attracted to precision, to realism, to clarity, and realistic portraits. In walking through museums, I was attracted to and spent as much time as I could looking at the details by various master artists. I always gave a short glance at modern, contemporary, and abstract art, but never much time and clearly little thought.
However, I subtly found myself spending more time looking at impressionist art and less realistic works. Monet blew me away. Here was realism without precision and detail, but beautiful nonetheless. This was a style of art without precision, but collectively, the strokes created beautiful compositions. My eyes began to look at the art of other impressionists and marvel at their beauty. Without warning I began to spend even more time looking at non representational art. My world of art appreciation exploded.
Dayna’s taste in art has always differed from mine. I began to look closer at pieces and artists to whom she was attracted. It stretched me to look at works that I previously would only glance at and rarely see. Vertical and horizontal colorful lines, unusual compositions, and figures in ways that had usually left me cold, now drew me in.
Modern art, cubism, angles, distorted figures all called me to view them in a way I had not felt before. I found Pollock, Kandinski and de Kooning, and a renewed interest in Picasso.
And therein lies the difference for me. I felt the art. An emotional response rather than mere appreciation of the art. Feeling what the piece was sharing with me, allowing the piece to talk to me. This was a moving experience and was totally unlike viewing realistic works. As strange as it sounds, listening as a piece talks to you is quite normal. Explaining how this works for me is difficult, but it is real. For me works of art talk to me through their composition, arrangement, color and form, which cause an emotional response in me.
My eye views abstract art and its perceived disorganization in different ways. At times I seek to make sense of the abstract lines, shadows and colors by seeing what I can see. At times I take in the whole of the abstract and free myself from my realism tendency; and then at other times, I pick a small portion to see what I can see and hear from the art. If I bring an attitude of openness, it allows the painting to express itself and for my eyes, brain, and emotions to react.
I have to interject a side story here. We recently talked to the maintenance engineer at The Dundee Hotel. I told him Dayna was the artist of many of the works hanging there and his eyes lit up. “Did you do the pieces in the conference room?” he asked Dayna. “Yes,” was her reply and he said: “I have questions for you. I’ve studied them.” We walked to the three painting and he wanted to know if the images he saw in them were intentional. He saw birds, a cow, and other animals throughout her works. Dayna laughed and said “Don’t show me, I’ll never be able to not see them.”
He was astounded to hear that Dayna had not intentionally included farm animals in her abstracts. He was trying to make sense of the abstract work though his interpretation of what he saw. By the way, he loved the works and his appreciation came from their composition and his interpretation, and not by the intention of the artist.
In my wasted youth, I thought Picasso was odd, irrelevant, and not really worth looking at. Even today not all of his pieces move me, but many do in a way I would never have thought possible. His humor is outstanding. I stood before a Picasso series created during the last months of WWII and I was laughing. They were optimistic, playful, joyful and irreverent. Yes, I was the only one laughing, but that’s me. They were simply magnificent.
Then there is the power of abstract. There is power in the stroke, texture, form, composition, and message. With or without a representational image, abstract work speaks and conveys a message. In part, the power comes from eliminating a common scene or picture for our minds to see. We are engaged to interact with the artists’ work. Just as letting our children play in a dusty pile of dirt, they create games, form roads, and valleys in their minds, which they translate into the dirt pile; just as we get to create from abstract art.
Amazingly, the power of abstract art endures beyond a single viewing but continues over time and changes as we see different elements as we change. A piece of Dayna’s work, Singed by Fire and Light, hung in my office for three years until I moved my office home. Every day this piece spoke to me, every day it gave me something. Sometimes it spoke to me as a whole, drawing me deep inside; sometimes from a small section, sometimes from hints of color revealed from the sunlight pouring in the window. I miss this piece terribly. It now hangs beautifully at The Dundee Hotel, where I am writing this piece and I’ve literally hugged it.
I still appreciate and enjoy realism and impressionism. But abstract art, with a big thank you to my wife, attracts me, speaks to me and fills me.
Artists Dayna admires:
Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Elaine deKooning, Cy Twombly, Robert Motherwell, Robert Diebenkorn
Artists I admire:
Mark Rothko, Willem deKooning , Jackson Pollock, Picasso, Kandinski, Dayna Collins
My show, Turns of the Kaleidoscope, officially opened on Friday night, May 7, from 5-8 pm. It was part of Salem’s First Friday Art Walk and the weather was perfect. With more people vaccinated and things slowly opening, there was a steady stream of friends and art lovers throughout the evening.
The evening was magical and I’m sharing a smattering of photos that give a peek into the celebration of the opening of my show (which runs through May 29th).
In December, I was invited by my friend Chardel to be the Spotlight Artist in Create Whimsy, an online journal/photo album. The publication is filled with photos and articles, but defies a typical format so I asked Chardel, the editor at Create Whimsy, to describe their format and mission.
At Create Whimsy, we’re artists, builders, makers, crafters and creators – just like you. We share the stories of makers and what they make, inspiring creativity in our everyday lives. But we’re more than a photo album. We not only want to see what you create, we want to know what inspired you, how you did it, the insights you learned in the process. That’s what we are passionate about, and it’s the kind of website we wanted to create. Finding inspiration is important, and so is finding help from a community. That’s what we strive for. The journeys of other artists inspire us in our own work, so that’s what we hope to achieve for our readers – validation for what you are doing or the catalyst to try a new direction. And eye candy. We delight in eye candy! We hope that Create Whimsy gives you the confidence to make some art and show it off! We are happy to answer questions at email@example.com
December got busy and turned into January, my show at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria was delivered and hung, the opening reception took place, and then my attention turned to a long list of interview questions provided by Chardel. Early one morning I sat down at my desk and began the arduous task of writing responses. A first draft was generated, reviewed, revised, and then given to my personal editor (aka Howard), who worked his magic, crossing some sentences out, offering suggestions in different areas, then back to my computer to clean up the marked up, illegible notes.
I was asked to provide photos, which led me down the rabbit hole of trying to decide which images to send. I work in several mediums, so I did lots of digging into my online photo albums, looking for photos that convey what I do. I sent too many photos to Chardel and to Lynn, the journal’s CEO and founder, for them to choose which photos to use and to get my photos formatted for their publication.
And as if by magic, Lynn and Chardel sent me a link to my Spotlight Feature. I was kind of verklempt as I read through the article where I was given such generous space, all of my words along with a series of photos were there. It is with great pleasure and delight that I share the article with you. Here is the link: Spotlight: Dayna Collins, Mixed Media Artist
If you would like to see more of Create Whimsy, they can be found here on Instagram and on Facebook
My solo show at RiverSea Gallery, Emotional Alignments, opened on January 9 and I celebrated the opening for a couple of days. I had dropped my art off at the gallery on the Thursday before the opening and saw it for the first time on Friday afternoon.
When we walked into the gallery on Friday, our friends Greg and Tabor were there, so we had a nice long visit about the show.
On Saturday, the official opening and Astoria’s monthly Art Walk, ran from noon until 8 pm, the hours greatly expanded to accommodate social distancing in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. My friend Stephanie drove to Astoria and we spent the day playing in and around Astoria.
Saturday night arrived and I was at the gallery from 5-8 pm.
It was a pretty quiet opening, but I was able to visit with everyone who stopped by and social distancing was easily achieved. Our friends from Salem, Lois and Dave, were in Astoria for a few days and they popped in for a hello and to see the show.
Howard and gallery owner, Jeannine, had a nice rock and chat.
And a few days later, our daughter Amy and grandson Emmett were able to see the show.
I thought I would share a few selected pieces of the art on view.
The show will be up through February 9 and all of the info on the show can be found by clicking here.
So many tasks to attend to once the art has been made. First up, is removing the tape from the backs of the cradled wood panels, sanding the backs of the boards to clean up painty messes (I got a little hand sander for an early Christmas gift!), titling and signing the pieces, getting them all wired, and then photographed and inventoried. Whew.
And in between all these tasks, I needed to write my Artist Statement, something I have been laboring over for the past few weeks.
In the midst of this frenzy of activity, I realized that all 20 boards wouldn’t fit in either of our small, economical cars, so on Saturday we loaded up Howard’s car with 16 of the boards (amazing we crammed in 16), and headed to Astoria, where I planned to apply the final coat of cold wax to seal the paintings.
We got the paintings unloaded and I took over the funky upstairs space at our Astoria Beach House. I covered the table and floors and got set up to give my right arm a workout: slathering on a thin layer of cold wax with a putty knife, setting up extra heaters to warm up the upstairs, and then letting the wax dry and set on the pieces in preparation for a final buff and polish the next day.
The paintings are now buffed and polished, nestled downstairs in the extra bedroom, and I even managed to finish my Artist’s Statement this morning while it stormed and rained outside.
The details for my upcoming show:
Emotional Alignments: an emotional response to 2020
For the past couple of months I have put my nose to the grindstone. Being in the middle of a pandemic, life outside my house has been meager, so in many ways this has been the ideal time to put myself into a self-imposed studio timeout. I had the opportunity for a show at RiverSea Gallery, a contemporary art gallery in Astoria on the Oregon Coast. I have had art there for several years, I’ve been in group shows, and two years ago I had a show with my friend Stephanie Brockway. I had been thinking about asking for a solo show, but had never approached the gallery owner, Jeannine. Until October. I met with Jeannine and because of the pandemic, she was juggling the rescheduling of shows from 2020 into 2021; then she said that an artist had just cancelled for January 2021 and I could have that slot. In the big gallery. Gulp. Yes, please. Let the madness begin.
I work in layers. Many layers. It goes something like this. Gathering boards and painting them with a layer of acrylic or house paint. Once dry, I slather on a layer of plaster, which needs to dry overnight. The plastered boards are then schlepped outside to be lightly sanded, brought back into the studio, and sealed with a layer of acrylic stain. I like to baptize my boards with words, so I usually scribble a quote or something about how I’m feeling. Then I’m ready to begin actually painting. Because words don’t quite capture the physicality of this process, here is my photo essay depicting the first round of layers.
Now the boards are ready for painting.
When I originally pitched my show to Jeannine, my idea was for a show about waterlines, something I have been passionate about exploring for years. But as I began applying the initial layers of oil and cold wax, I realized the show was no longer about waterlines. When I needed to send an image to Jeannine for her November newsletter, I sent her this message:
I have been consistently working since we met in October, moving forward with the theme of Waterlines. I prepped 15 boards (20×20 inches up to 40×40 inches) with acrylic, plaster, acrylic, and then one to two layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax. As I began the process of reconciling the under layers with a finished composition, it became apparent that my heart wasn’t in a strict interpretation of waterlines. My original vision for the show was bold swaths of color representing waterlines, but as I began applying paint in bright bands of color, I realized what I was experiencing was more than waterlines; it was an emotional response to 2020: the pandemic, politics, and wildfires (as well as a series of personal family hardships). Waterlines always find their way into my pieces as inspiration, but this show isn’t about waterlines, but my emotional response to 2020. So things have changed a bit. I have titled the show: EMOTIONAL ALIGNMENTS. Once I started making this shift last week, my painting took off. I start my days enthusiastic and excited to get into the studio.
In my next post, I’ll share about the evolution of my paintings (now at 20 works in various stages of completion) using oil paint mixed with cold wax medium . . . . and the many hours I spend in my studio.
I am delighted to share the Fall 2020 issue of Subjectiv: A Journal of Visual and Literary Arts. This is a stunning online journal, filled to the brim with art and words. Riis Griffen is the editor and C.W. Griffen is responsible for the layout. I was contacted by Riis the end of August, asking if I would be the featured artist for their In the Studio article. Hello, yes, please.
Interview questions were sent, answers written out, photos were taken, photos were edited. And now here it is, in living color, a beautiful reminder of how art and words heal, help us process, bring joy, teach us to solve problems, and as Riis says in the opening of this issue, I hope you can find a few moments of peace browsing through these pages, and enjoy a break from the tumult of the world.
There are two ways to view Subjectiv. You can go to the website by clicking HERE (you can also see past issues by using this link). Or if you prefer to view it in a magazine format, click HERE.
Back in April, I submitted an application to participate in the annual Word & Image: Writers and Artists in Dialogue show at the Hoffman Center for the Arts, a lively art center located on the north Oregon coast in Manzanita. My application was accepted and 12 artists and 12 writers were randomly paired during a Zoom meeting in mid June. Names were drawn from a hat and I was paired with Evan Williams. We both have North Coast connections: Evan has had a family cabin at Neahkahnie for years and lives in Portland. I grew up visiting our family cabin at Sunset Beach and now have a a house in Astoria and split my time between Astoria and Salem. Here is a bit more about Evan: Evan Morgan Williams has published two books of short stories. A Neahkahnie regular since 1969, his stories are realistic fictions, often set along the Oregon Coast. He lives in Portland, where he teaches in a high-poverty middle school.
The project worked like this (stay with me, it can sound confusing): I submitted three images of art I had created in the past. Evan submitted three pieces of his writing. Evan received an email with images of my three paintings and I received an email with copies of his three writings. I was to create a new piece of work in response to one of his writings, and Evan was to write a new story or poem in response to one of my three pieces of art.
I chose Kimberly’s Hands, which Evan said I could share in this post:
After the love-making failed, Michael let Kimberly’s hands take his. Her pleading touch was dry as paper. It didn’t used to be this way. Michael remembered his hands in water, plunged into a mountain creek ahead of an advancing burn. He and his crew had been dropped in a mile ahead of the flames. It was hazard pay, and they earned it. The creek was going to be the line. Michael did not know where that water came from or where it was going. His hands in the water, cold, clear, smooth, lifting what he could to his sooty face. There were ferns and thimbleberry along the shore, and his hands ached, and the water was clear and silent as it slid over jewel-colored stones. That little stream had no idea what was coming over the ridge. The crew tapped a portable pump into that stream, a two-stroker, ugly noise, shaking like a jackhammer, and they hosed down the brush and trees, up and down the creek, until they ran out of petrol, but it wasn’t enough. The fire came. They ditched the pump and ran for their lives. Nothing they could do. Never found that sweet water again. It was probably dry now.
“Michael, come back. It’s all right. Look at me.”
“I know it’s all right.”
Once Kimberly’s hands had felt exactly how that water used to be. Now her hands felt how that water was now.
I chose to paint my response to the story written by Evan and I began by writing his story across the surface of my prepared panel.
The story was layered and nuanced, so I added layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax. For a while the painting looked like this.
It continued to morph and I frequently reread Kimberly’s Hands.
It finally reached that point where I knew it was completed.
My process statement in response to Kimberly’s Hands:
Water, cold, clear, smooth. Ahead of the flames. The water was clear and silent. The fire came. Her pleading touch. The visual language of “Kimberly’s Hands” resonated as I translated Evan’s words into a painting. My own response conjured the passage of time, memories, the devastation of fire, the rejuvenation of water, aging, and desire. I started my piece by writing Evan’s prose across the surface of my board, then began adding layers of paint, partially covering the words. Through the use of layers, texture, and color, I created a visceral and abstracted response.
During my painting and processing over the six weeks, Evan had chosen one of my paintings, The Strange Velvet Beautiful Sea, and in response wrote Diving In.
The engine ticks down. Just enough starlight she can see her reflection in the rear view mirror. She does her lipstick.
She looks out. A tent on the dark beach waits for her. A campfire, too, but a strong shape blocks the light.
She checks her lipstick again.
They met on the beach that afternoon. He taught her how to bodysurf. The water was frigid, but he said, “Keep moving,” and this made it all right. He taught her to lunge when the wave was good, to tuck her head and dive when the wave was bad. The shock of cold, dark, quiet, was exhilarating. She emerged into the light anew.
He said, “Diving into dark water, you accept the unknown. You meet it with your face. Knowing this changes nothing. Darkness reveals its secrets just the same.” She was surprised when he added, “You learn its cold indifference.”
She said she would come back in the evening. Freshen up at the motel. She told him, “I could be into you.”
The rear view mirror says perfect. She puts the lipstick in her purse along with the pepper spray and the Lady Smith. Five bullets. All her things are small. They take up all the space in her small world.
But a mirror’s reflection is an opposite. If you see confidence in the mirror, it means you are a coward and a fool. She re-checks her reflection, isn’t sure. She dives into that unknown.
An image of my new art and the new piece of writing by Evan were due the end of July, and art work was then dropped off the end of September. Using the imagery and writings, a book was published showcasing all of the art and writing from the 12 artists and 12 writers. (It is a beautiful book and is available at the Hoffman Center for the Arts.)
Two broadsides were created, the first featured the art I created in response to Kimberly’s Hands, and the second broadside featured the story written by Evan in response to the art that I had submitted.
Fast forward to October when everything was revealed at the opening reception, which took place virtually because of you know what.
The reception was on a Friday night, and the exhibition opened on Saturday, October 3; we were able to visit the show on the following day. What a thrill to see the exhibit in person. The woman who was gallery sitting that afternoon said several people had expressed an interest in purchasing Under Perilous Conditions and someone had purchased my piece that afternoon.
I was the featured artist at our recent quarterly Open Studios at the Mill, held on February 13. My show focused on a series of revamped and new Salvage Collages as well as some acrylic paintings done on book board covers, utilizing my materials in a new way. I worked on pieces feverishly right up until it was time to get the show hung.
Artist Statement about my Salvage Collages:
Dayna Collins has always loved old books. She hyperventilates at the sight of books which are stained, defaced, torn or marked up. She rips battered books apart, reclaiming their faded fragments, and creates collages using only materials she has excavated. Dayna’s mixed media pieces reflect the passage of time, repurposing the scraps that are worn and weathered, transforming the aged and tattered pieces into something unexpected and beautiful, celebrating their fragile decay.
My husband hung my show in two stages, and it turns out he has quite a knack for curating and hanging.
The end result was quite nice.
Some of the pieces in the show:
And some of the paintings on book boards:
Many thanks to those who stopped in to say hello, and to Luis Noriega for attending our Open Studios and interviewing some of our artists for his podcast: Down the Rabbit Hole DTRH Podcast
Head’s Up: Next opportunity to see my Salvage Collages will be at a Pop – Up in July in Astoria, Oregon!