Posts Tagged ‘assemblage

13
Apr
15

The Altoids Project: MADFEST 2015

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The 2015 West Virginia MAD (Media Arts and Design) Festival took place on the Campus of West Liberty University on Friday, April 10. MADFEST 2015 was a day filled with 28 workshop sessions, professional presentations, and a student media arts awards competition and ceremony. Each year, Prof. James Haizlett asks art faculty members to present a 50 minute workshop (or two) for the visiting high school students.

I change my workshop presentation each year just in case a student might be attending for a second year. I was having difficulty coming up with a new workshop idea when I remembered I had several boxes of Altoids containers stored away. About fifty of the tins came from an employee where my wife works, and several hundred more were sent to me by gentleman in Maryland after he had visited my studio. I felt these containers could prove to be perfect supports upon which the visiting students could create collage or small assemblage works.

I began preparing the cans a few days before my two workshops. Using mat board samples that were headed to the dumpster (Thanks Amanda!), I cut pieces to fit the inside and outside each Altoids can. Other cans I primed and painted flat white. Since we only had 50 minutes for each workshop, I wanted the cans ready to accept most of the materials that we had available. I also punched two 1/8″ holes in the top of each tin in order to insert a cord for wearing the finished work.

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In addition to the Altoids tins, each table had craft knives, glue, assorted Sharpies, and scissors. On a nearby counter was colored papers, wallpaper books, color mat board samples, wood shapes, glass beads, etc. Another table served as a hot glue station with several hot glue guns at the ready.

The night before the workshops, I created seven examples to show the students. My hope that these might jump start their creative juices. I photographed each example and presented a brief Keynote presentation at the beginning of the workshop. Here are my examples, front and inside:

I feel that the workshop was successful for the most part. Should I try something similar in the future, I will plan to have more small found objects on the materials table (most of our materials were 2D). Here is a slide show of the students working and some of them showing their work:

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08
Feb
15

The Kid Who Wanted X-ray Vision

As a kid growing up in Ohio, I spent a lot of time reading comic books. When I was not playing outside with my friends, I could usually be found on the living room rug, or the floor of my pup tent, lost in a comic book. It did not matter the theme. I enjoyed a variety of topics. Superman, Batman, Donald Duck, Lone Ranger, Richie Rich, Casper, anything but the romance stuff! The inside cover usually had ads for a variety of products, every thing from miniature cameras to a book on how to “throw your voice”. The item I most coveted was the X-ray Specs! Imagine, for the price of just one American dollar a kid could actually obtain X-ray vision!

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Sadly, I never had a whole dollar that I could send away for this wonderful item. Back then, I was lucky to have the dime to purchase the comic book itself. Yes, ten cents was a huge deal then. Had I dared ask my mother for a dollar to spend on such a superfluous piece of plastic, she would have thought I had totally lost my young mind. Reflecting back on those much-wanted Xray glasses was the inspiration for my latest artwork: Xray Vision!

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I started out with a 24″x36″primed wood panel and began a loose sketch using a black Sharpie. When working with “tin”, I tend to keep my foundation sketch very loose. I want the sketch to give me a sense of how I am going to use the space, yet loose enough that my composition is open to serendipity. I really wanted this piece to be about the glasses, so I was building my sketch around those glasses. Since the wearer’s face would play a supporting role, I filled my space by cropping the head and chin of the person.

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Using some black sheet metal, I cut the shape of the frames of the eye glasses. From there I began working on the lens. I remember the image of the Xray specs in the ad having a circle within a circle, as when one drops a stone into a pool of water. When I actually Googled the old advertisement, I saw it was not quite as I remembered. However, the specs did show energy and that is what I wanted.

 

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I began with a series of circles in white metal, but noticing a very colorful popcorn can in the studio I decided to change course. I cut two spirals from the flattened can and attached them to the eye glasses. Cutting the spirals was bit more challenging than I had predicted, but I felt good about the result.

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The most difficult part of the piece was now behind me, while the most time consuming work was about to begin. I began building the face and head using tin in a range of earth tones. I worked at giving the face some depth through subtle changes in color and value, while at the same time trying to keep the overall look a bit loose. It is also important to me to keep in the piece some of the typography and branding that is on the metal itself, but without it becoming too distracting. I struggle with that issue!

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Once the face and head were nearly complete, I began filling in the negative space, aka “the background”.  I needed the negative space to be dark enough to contrast with the face and head, and not so strong that it would take away from the eye glasses. This took a trial and error approach as I built the background using a variety of darker values and kept my tin palette primarily cool. As you will see in the finished piece, the background is built using a combination of retro branding and pop culture images from repurposed product containers.

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The finished piece ready to attach the hanging hardware! As a last minute addition, I added two small white metal elements to give the eye glasses some extra punch. Thanks for your interest in my work. Whatever YOUR media, go make some art!

 

 

 

21
May
14

Bull Creek Mud Bog

The early morning at the Bull Creek Fleatique was a bit muddy.

Early morning at the Bull Creek Flea-tique was a bit muddy.

 

The first Bull Creek Flea-tique of the year took place this past Sunday, and I was looking forward to finding some fresh art materials! In my excitement for “opening day”, I did not take into account that the previous week had been a rainy one. Sure, I figured the grass would be a bit damp, but I was ill prepared for surface conditions at Bull Creek. It was muddy. Saying it was muddy does not seem enough. The field was pure muck. The ground was pure sludge.  The rainy weather had turned the flea market into a quagmire, and I had left my rubber boots in a closet at home. (Note to self: always keep a pair of boots in back of truck.)

The highlight of my trudging through this bog was finding a fifty pound shortening can with the name “Roberts” across the front. A friend pointed out that there was no apostrophe, but I still thought of the can has having my name on it. In addition, I picked up a metal canister set that had recipes printed on the surface (good texture material in a tin piece); a metal sign that reads “Hevi-Duty” (that may be a title for a piece); and some miscellaneous assemblage items.

Trying to leave the flea market was a bit challenging. Dozens of vehicles were stuck, while others were being pushed out of the muck by teams of volunteers. A tow truck had arrived and I am sure he was quite busy throughout the remainder of the morning. Leaving through the normal exit road was impossible as several stranded vehicles had created gridlock. I cut across the muddy field to reach the entrance road which was in a bit better condition. I was thankful for my four-wheel drive vehicle! 

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02
May
14

Roger’s: A Sign of Spring

Morning at Rogers Flea Market

Morning at Rogers Flea Market

Most of you that know me, or at least know this blog, are aware that I love flea markets. I often say that “The flea market is my palette.”. The majority of my art work is comprised of repurposed lithographed metal and found objects, and I obtain most of these materials at the flea market. My favorite outdoor market is in Rogers, Ohio, about 90 minutes north of our home in WV. This past April 18th, my wife, Chris, and I headed to our first Rogers experience of the year. This is truly one of the signs that spring has arrived. We took two friends along with us, Nancy Tirone and Rebekah Karelis, both “Rogers virgins”.

Me, Chris, Bekah, and Nancy ready for our Rogers experience!

Me, Chris, Bekah, and Nancy ready for our Rogers experience!

To give you a little more info on Rogers, here is a blurb from their website:

A Friday visit to the Rogers Community Auction and Market is more than a buying spree. It’s a refreshing dip into rural Americana. Shoppers spill into the gravel walking paths between rail fences that guide shoppers through the maze of tables and between pavilions and barns.

Join the early morning walkers who measure their miles in the gravel aisles for exercise before they shop. The grounds open for business at 7:30 a.m. and vendors start setting up at least an hour before. Those who want to register for the afternoon auctions begin signing in at 7:30.

There is no admission charge and 70 acres of free parking is available. There is no dress code but good walking shoes are recommended if you plan to cover the entire three miles of aisles through the barns and outdoors. The 1,000 to 1,600 vendors, selling an A to Z conglomeration of goods, are randomly scattered so that there is a good variety in each aisle.

We had a fun day at Rogers, but that might be better said through the following photos!

 

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09
Oct
13

Oglebayfest Artist Market 2013

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Early morning leaf blowing in front of the artists’ tents.

This years Oglebayfest Artist Market was three days of warmth and sunshine. Each morning started out cool, but each afternoon found us enjoying temperatures in the low 80s. Great weather, a bit unusual for October, and best of all, no rain. The crowds were heavy and most artists I spoke with were happy with their sales. However, based on the constant line at the kettle corn booth, I would say popcorn is the business to be in.

My booth at the Artist Market.

My booth at the Artist Market.

My sales were good, consisting of small and medium sized works. I did not sell any “heavy-hitter” pieces this year. Other artists I spoke with gave the event mixed reviews, some selling well while others barely made booth rent.

Nancy Tirone exhibited her mixed-media works.

Nancy Tirone exhibited her mixed-media works.

Nancy Tirone, a WLU professor who teaches art education, was exhibiting at the Artist Market for her fourth year. Nancy has a unique style of work that combines writing with collage and painting. She reported her best sales ever!

Although he did not have a booth, our friend and artist, Kyle Hallam, came to hang out with us for the day.

Robert Villamagna and Kyle Hallam.

Although he did not have a booth this year, our friend and artist, Kyle Hallam, came to hang out with us for the day. It is always a pleasure to hang out with Kyle, talking art and life.

Artists Victoria Lavorini, Seth Miller, and Lambros "Clay Ninja" Thsulares."

Artists Victoria Lavorini, Seth Miller, and Lambros “Clay Ninja” Tsuhlares.” Lambros mugs make beer taste better!

Two of my former West Liberty University students had a booth at the Artist Market: Victoria Lavorini and Seth Miller. Victoria was presented with the Fine Arts Best of Show Award at the Artist Dinner on Saturday evening. Victoria also reported strong sales of her work.

"Cigarette Head", by Robert Villamagna, made using a sign from a vintage cigarette sign, along with repurposed metal product containers.

“Cigarette Head”, made of a sign from a vintage cigarette sign, along with repurposed metal product containers.

Lambros was ready a table full of beer mugs!

Lambros was ready a table full of beer mugs!

Artists Cecy Rose and Alan Fitzpatrick k

Artists Cecy Rose and Alan Fitzpatrick k

Artist Market Director Rick Morgan (right) and his trusty sidekick, Brad Johnson.

Artist Market Director Rick Morgan (right) and his trusty sidekick, Brad Johnson.

 Josh Verhovic sets up his work in the WLU studnet booth.

Josh Verhovec sets up his work in the WLU student booth.

Each year, WLU has a double booth for art students who want to sell their work at the Artist Market. There is no fee for art students to participate, and the students get a first hand experience of selling their work.

WLU student Emma Romanalski with some of her pots.

WLU student Emma Romanowski with some of her pots.

Potter Lambros Tsuhlares and sculptor Eric Price waiting for the money to roll in.

Potter Lambros Tsuhlares and sculptor Eric Price waiting for the money to roll in.

Robert Villamagna and former WLU student Bill Kuzma, along with his girlfriend whose name I forgot! Sorry!

Robert Villamagna and former WLU student Bill Kuzma, along with his girlfriend whose name I forgot! Sorry!

Family and friends at the Artist Market, including grand daughters Sophia and Grace, my son Shawn, and my wife Chris.

Family and friends at the Artist Market, including grand daughters Sophia and Grace, my son Shawn, and my wife Chris.

Chris and I enjoying a good a laugh at the Artist Market.

Chris and I enjoying a good a laugh at the Artist Market.

20
Sep
12

Another visit to Bull Creek

If you know me, or have at least visited this blog before, you know that I am all about flea markets. There is the stuff, the people, the element of surprise, and of course there is that creative spark that I also get from the flea market. And since I use found objects and lithographed metal in my art, the flea market also becomes my palette!

One of my favorite markets is the Bull Creek Flea-tique near Tarentum, PA. This monthly flea market is located on a grass and tree-covered stretch of land that was once the site of a working coal mine. I love the fact that there is no asphalt on the grounds, and just a gravel road that winds it’s way back to this outdoor market.

On my most recent trip I picked up a doll house, a 50 pound red lard can, one end wall of a Coca-Cola cooler, and a flattened out piece of tin that was once a Prestone anti-freeze can. Those items are now in the studio waiting to play a role in an upcoming piece of Villamagna art. I also picked up a great old litho of the Battleship Maine. A great wall piece, even if the frame is a bit rough. Here is a slide show from my visit there last Sunday morning:

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16
Jul
12

I could have had a B-8

Chris and I have been exhibiting at the Central PA Festival of the Arts since 1996, and each year our booth number has been B-8. Well, there was a year where we forced to move to Pollock Street due to construction on Burrowes, and the following year we were back at B-8. For several years now, Chris and I have given away a little momento to visitors of B-8. This year we gave an individual, portable air conditioning device, also known as a fan. Here are a few photos of B-8 along with some of our “fans”.

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