For Garfield Park Arts Center's upcoming May show, two effortlessly cool artists will be showing works that represent point of view experiences through the cutting and pasting of both familiar and unfamiliar symbology.
"One person told me that collage was like the bastard stepchild of art -- I totally disagree! It's like the cool weirdo cousin or something" says Alicia Obermeyer, professional collagist, self-publisher of weird and crass zines, and a former classmate of mine.
Her defense of the collage makes sense to me. It's not about being in control of all aspects of an image's plasticity. So it just doesn't have to try as hard as other art forms to accomplish the same level of aesthetic zeitgeist mastery.
With Obermeyer, Justin Eagan, a poster and comic artist, makes Cut and Paste: An Exhibition of Contemporary Collage a must-see exhibit.
"I'm showing some new collages using images from National Geographic magazines and water colors along with some posters I have done for bands," says Eagan, who has a remarkable sensibility for the visual details of small-venue music show imagery. In his posters, he has used empty pizza boxes, dinosaurs and photos of brick houses in ways that are both fitting for representing headlining bands, as well as sacred mementos of present music culture.
"I like how images will emerge from other images," he says. "I like to use bits and pieces to create a larger more fantastic narrative."
In contrast to Eagan's style, Obermeyer's strength lies in her ability to turn overwrought concepts on their heads by disassembling the familiarity of common symbols through interpretation. Eagan describes her work as "more abstract" and appreciates the way her style demonstrates a nice contrast, showing the possibilities of collage art.
Obermeyer takes words such as "trains" and "landscape" and "road trip" and instead of handing us pictures of roads and cars, she gives the viewer a map full of clues.
"They are dense with layers of a lot of different marks. The base layer was created with drawings from trips in cars, buses or trains. I was trying to make notes of interesting shapes I saw in the landscape, but it was difficult to focus on anything at that speed, so eventually they just became these scrawling blind contour clouds," she says about the work she will be showing.
In her studio, she enlarged these blind contours and then painted over them and added photographs, fabric and other objects in intuitive fashion with the purpose of creating texture.
"It is indicative of play. It is also visually satisfying to me -- a response to the absurdity of contemporary landscape," she says.
Both Obermeyer and Eagan are somewhat divers of underground culture with an ability to not take themselves too seriously. They are self-demanding and elegant, but not afraid to be 100 percent absurd. I know this from being classmates with Alicia and briefly sharing lodging with Eagan.
"I think we both use a lot of texture and humor in our work," says Obermeyer.
So if you are looking for a First Friday hangover cure, take a walk through Garfield Park on first Saturday afternoon and then visit the Garfield Park Art Center. The show, Cut and Paste: An Exhibition of Contemporary Collage,opens this Saturday (May 2) 2 - 5 p.m. and runs through May 30.