Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Steve is in Birmingham; I'm stuck at Mouse House!

Yesterday Steve headed to Birmingham, England to visit Mathias and see BRB's Nutcracker. I have lined up two altered books and individual pages on which to work while stuck at Mouse House. This project will use the African mask images I recently shot at Ginny Newell's art conservation business. Dimba, the West African artifact dealer, had set up for a single late afternoon in front of her shop and allowed me to take pictures--over 124 after I parred them down from over 250!

I heard from Mathias and Steve this morning. Steve arrived safely, despite being afraid of railway connects and being in a foreign country all alone. He makes terrific travel arrangements but he's really hilariously funny about following them by himself! Mathias will take care of him! Hopefully, Steve will insist on the "rat" photograph.

Mathias said that yesterday there were two performances of Nutcracker. He was a cadet, a rat, and danced Spanish in both. He claimed to be exhausted but he sounded totally exhilarated! He wished Alex and I luck in foraging for fast food in Steve's absence! (Steve is pathetic as a single traveler; I'm equally pathetic as a "stay-at-home" housekeeper!)

Anyway, I finished the "nuts and bolts". They were fast, fun, and a great time to do while watching the last Harry Potter movie that is now on HBO or Cinamax or whatever channel we get! They are headed to the Archeology Project, which I should start calling by its proper name. (I should, but I know I won't! It's the Archeology Project to me and likely always will be!)

I'm thinking about the proper name though. Yesterday Janet Kozachek sent me an article she'd composed for our joint effort. We would have liked for someone else to have written it. Janet really wanted an interview format. Neither of us could find anyone, competent and deadline conscious, to do this. Perhaps, this was for the best.

As it turned out, Janet's article was should I put this?....a problem. It was overly long, verbose, and attempted to be a scholarly work. It was written, in parts, in first person but without really introducing the writer. It included the name of a defunct gallery, a former art show, and had the incorrect date of this exhibition. Had I seen this in a free, newsstand publication, I would have ceased reading somewhere in the second paragraph.

Yet, like the article that initially inspired me, it was full of ideas and conjured up beautiful imagery. There was a format buried in the long sentences. There was hope for a successful re-write. Most importantly, Janet is able to see how our work fits into the great art world. She is brilliant. Her intelligence sung in every poorly written phrase. She understands how creativity relates to psychology. She knew how to compare our collaborations to the Dada movement. I saw the incredible Dada show in the East Wing of the National Gallery only this past spring, but I never would have seen the relationship! I'm just not that smart.

So, I had to risk offending her by editing the work. I was nervous but it was worth the effort. In a sense, the resulting article is yet another successful collaboration. Neither of us could write alone what together we did via emails! I think the article now has a reporter's straight forward approach with hints of an intellectuals deep passion. I hope it brings readers to the show! We will submit it, with images, to Carolina Arts, the State Newspaper, The Free Times, and also to Skirt! I will do a little research into how a proper press release is to be formatted, but at least we've got something with which to work.

Here it is:


A two-person exhibition of mixed media works by Janet Kozachek and Susan Lenz opens January 5, 2007 at the Pinckney Simons Gallery, 1012 Gervais Street in downtown Columbia. The exhibition features individual and collaborative art through January 31. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, January 18 from 5:30 to 8:30 PM.

Collaborations can yield amazing and often serendipitous results. When artists dare to relinquish what two hundred years or so years of history has considered sacred, they step across traditional boundaries. By letting go of ego, identity, and property, Kozachek and Lenz have torn down old ways of working and traveled into each other’s creative space.

An article in the May 2005 issue of Carolina Arts brought the artists together. The article detailed Kozachek’s art and work processes for an exhibition of mosaics and companion oil paintings reminiscent of archaeological sites. The concepts resonated with fiber artist, Susan Lenz. Both artists are intrigued by cultural mystery, fragments of civilization, and their artistic identity within the scope of history. Both artists find a parallel between ancient ruins and the chaos of accumulation in their own studios.

The first collaborations resulted when Lenz’s small fiber fragments were positioned on Kozachek’s unfinished paintings. The blend of color and texture effectively completed the work. The two artists described their experience as “finding the missing puzzle piece in one another’s studio”. They had tapped into the Jungian “Collective Unconscious,” that morass of signs, symbols and archetypes that lie at the foundations of all civilizations. They also had to relinquish individual artistic control and develop a link to a greater creative unity.

The second collaborations tested their trust in one another’s unconscious choices. Kozachek and Lenz challenged each other to create art using artifacts salvaged from one another’s studios. The results are both startling and amusing. They were taking the Dada practice of “ready made” art even further by using found objects that were found for the artist rather than by the artist.

Ironically, even within the confines of these limitations, the identities of the assembling artists shine through. In addition to their collaborative artwork, Kozachek and Lenz are also displaying individual pieces that explore their joint interests in history, archeology, and cultural remains. The exhibit strives to create a narrative where there was once merely an amalgam of facts.

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