Column Collage II: “Hey, can I steal it?”

This post really ought to go out to May Kawamoto, my friend and neighbor for the 3 years I lived in Oakland back in the early ‘90s before I hauled off to Turkey. We were in a live-work space housing artists and other misfits in a ‘borderline’ residential neighborhood near Lake Merritt. May lived upstairs, and I lived downstairs. Mostly, we hung out upstairs, because that was where the group kitchen was, but occasionally May came downstairs to see what I was up to and what she could steal. “Hey, I like that; can I steal it?” she would ask. “Sure,” I’d answer, “Stealing is free.” And then we’d go upstairs to her studio, and I’d return the favor: “Hey. Is that new? I want to steal that. Can I steal it?”

I think that pretty much sums up how ideas in art used to travel around.

Well, now it’s 20 years later, and guess what, Miss May?

I’m stealing from myself!

Column Collage 2 Detail bottomOr, as I prefer to think of it, I’m ‘recycling’. (Hey, maybe this post should go out to Erol Bey, who once tried to convince me – without a tinge of post-modern irony – that paintings of cats were a perfect (purrfect?) example of ‘environmental art’.

This is the second ‘column collage’ I’ve finished from the leftovers of my square paper being prepared for painting. (Note 1: I have a habit of taking ‘perfectly’ proportioned paper and turning it into odd shapes like squares and columns that are supposedly hard to work with and also don’t fit easily over a couch. Note 2: 2 or even 3 square paintings together fit quite nicely over a couch, and a long column solves the problem of how to visually balance that full-length mirror by the front door…)

Above is the bottom part of the collage. (By the way, it doesn’t have a name yet, and I am taking suggestions…)

The very bottom is a collage that itself is made up of recycled artwork – or, more accurately, photocopies of artwork. Notable are the “bones pillow” (that was the name of the piece that the “green thing” came from), and the corn – which is not really from an artwork, but was used to illustrate the “12-Month Bodrum Garden Guide” (the month of May, in case you’re wondering).

Now for the middle part of the collage…

Column Collage 2 Detail mid

It’s mostly left-over ‘pavement’ books (the brown pages had to be trimmed, and not all of the pictures made it into the books), but there’s also part of a sketch of ‘the bee-hive houses of Harran’ from a trip to Urfa back around 1995 or ’96…

And the top of the collage (and just to make it clear, there are no real divisions bewteen Top, Middle and Bottom – it’s just ‘cause the proportions of the piece make it too hard to see the details in just a single photograph), well,

Column Collage 2 Detail top

That’s an ink sketch from a photo of an olive tree in Havran, in Balıkesir.

A colored pencil sketch made sitting in the shade in Harran, in Urfa.

A photocopy (on colored paper) of one of the workers in the boatyard in İçmeler, in Bodrum.

And more pictures of pavement.

Altogether, they make this:

Column Collage 2

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