Wednesday, March 24, 2010
“Pay attention.” This is the motto by which artist Gayle Gerson lives and creates.
Gerson works in mixed-media and teaches Experimental Collage at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts using primarily photomontage and decoupage methods. She is an award winning artist and art appreciator. Her subjects vary from portrait and landscape to abstract. In 2010, the Colorado Council on the Arts jury commissioned Gerson to create the prizes for the Governor’s Arts Award given by Governor Ritter to the towns of Telluride and Creede.
Gayle and her family have lived in Colorado for over thirty years. While her subject matter and style are not distinctly regional, Gerson says, the golden light reflected on the sandstone edged horizon and the linearity of the Grand Valley are always influencing her compositions and value choices.
Recently, she created a collage series of Mt. Garfield, one of the Western Slope’s most recognizable landmarks. One collage from this series was selected for the Creative Capitol exhibition now on display in the Lt. Governor’s office in Denver, Colorado.
Gerson developed her skills and talents in large part through teaching. She presents a slide show in her classes to demonstrate the history of the medium. Collage techniques have been found as early as the first paintings on paper in China more than 2000 years ago – artists glued pieces of paper onto a painting to expand the story.
Artist Georges Braque began by pasting pieces of wood-grain decorated wall paper on some drawings to create a multi-dimensional texture. Artists like Picasso and Juan Gris used any found object in the vicinity – newspapers, cloth, cigarette packets, etc. – to create a three-dimensional element in a painting or to make social commentary. Eventually the handicraft techniques of decoupage were adopted by fine artists working in mixed media with different intent.
Kurt Schwitters, neo-Dadaist Robert Rauschenberg and Gerald Brommer. The influence of these favorite artists is evident in her work, though she has a style distinctively her own. She attributes her manner to another motto: “Always experiment!”
Gerson’s “experiments” have great depth. The layers of divergent images and color rest artfully and offer many secret treasures for viewers who linger on them. In one of her rain forest collages you will find tiny images of tribal dwellers amidst the lush greenery of countless trees. Gerson’s collages are also sophisticated and focused. While her portraits, for example, contain hundreds of pieces of paper and fiber, the visage is wonderfully recognizable and the work overall never appears chaotic. She designs such portraiture with details from the subject’s life. In a recent portrait of a local writer Gerson included pages from his book to shape his trademark beard. These clever, thoughtful touches are integrated so effectively that they do not distract, but enhance the subject’s features.
Gerson attributes her enviable confidence to her previous profession. “I’ve been teaching in one way or another since I graduated college. Now I teach art. I was a public school teacher and school counselor for many years. In that case, you’re talking about the impact you’re making on kids. In my studio, it’s just paper. I tell my students: ‘This is not brain surgery. You’re not flying an airplane. It’s just art. If it doesn’t work you can throw it away. Or better yet, use it in a new way!’”
Gayle Gerson shows her work at the Blue Pig Gallery where she also offers collage demonstrations and workshops. Gerson’s encaustics will be on display during the Art and Wax exhibition at the Blue Pig Gallery during the Palisade International Honeybee Festival.
Copywrite Gayle Gerson. This image may not be copied or reproduced.
About the Author: Wood is owner of the Blue Pig Gallery in Palisade, Colorado. She is being remunerated by the Wine Country Inn for her contributions to this blog.