Monday, February 22, 2010

The Collage Art of Robert Mars

Oh look! I managed to crawl out of my icy little hermit hole in the North East to write another blog post. OH happy day!!! While most of you up here have been washing the blankets of salt crust off your four-wheeled highway hooligans, I've been in the process of moving and unpacking and trying to rearrange my life's worth of tchotchke in a new apartment (and laughing because though cars are a beautiful, beautiful thing, so is not having one in the city).

Everybody knows that if moving is good for anything, it's getting a reason to rifle through all your old stacks of ___________ (fill it in) that have been sitting around forever, toeing the line between memories and garbage. Of everything one usually finds straddling that border, I guarantee the bulk of it is in the form of magazines. Ah, magazines! The best ones are filled with recipes, naked people, tattoo ideas and pre-'65 American-made vehicles (obvious bias). But while you can still look fondly upon books you read once and haven't touched since (but still want to keep around), magazines tend to evoke a deeper, more complicated level of clutter-hatred. I don't know if the difference is the fact that magazines are about 25% advertising, whereas books are all straight up content. And even in your favorite magazine, there is still only about a 65 to 70% chance you'll really love/use/laugh at all of the articles. Now math was never my strong point, but if I were to guesstimate, of that huge stack of old magazines you have over there taking up valuable space on your dining room table, only 50% of that is matter you will actually need and/or use ever again. And if you're a glass-half-full kinda person, you are probably thinking what I am, "Well I'd better not chuck them because I might want to read that articles about how to interpret what your cat is dreaming about again!"

Which is exactly how you end up moving the same forty pound stack of paper around from three different apartments, even though you've never opened one of those magazines the entire five years.

SO, what to do with all those magazines?? Well, you can do what I am going to do: decoupage our disgusting wooden country-time coffee table...

...which basically looks just like only with a finish like someone tied it to the back of a pick-up truck and drug it around on the street for awhile. Our plan being to turn it into a collage of custom cars, bikes, old ads and - if I have my say - a scantily retro-clad boob and a butt or two here and there.

Decoupage can be pretty damn sheik (see left image), but we're going more for the one on the right.

Not into arts and crafts Martha Stewart home-maker garbage? Then why not try you hand at mixed media collage work? Today I'm going to introduce you to a mixed-media artist named Robert Mars who creates stuff that you, my engine revving roadsters, might be interested in. In Robert's words:
"My work is a chronicle of Americana. I am determined to capture the independent aesthetic of the not-so-distant past that has been replaced by homogenized corporate culture and standardized cityscapes. Industrial design, graphic design, architecture, vintage neon and mid-century icons all render important roles in my work."

How Good It Is 2008, 48" x 36", Mixed Media

I can only hope my mentioning of his fantastic work within the confines of a blog that has, so far, mostly been about decoupage, doesn't cheapen it in any way.

I like Robert's work so much because he so perfectly invokes in me such a heavy feeling of desolation and forgotten America, through his large swathes of color (that could have been chosen directly from an old Mopar paint chip card) and sparse use of period imagery. Although I've seen a ton of mixed media "collage" artists in my time, a lot of them have sucked. But Mars is a beacon of shining light in the murky sea of collage work that typically looks just like your 80 year old, leagally blind, Great Aunt's scrapbook. It's not like you just slap a bunch of crap on a canvas and "Voila! Gimmie $3000 for this original artwork, sucka!". You've gotta have a major handle on color and space usage (the two things that separate random-dude-with-a-brush-and-a-trust-fund from legitimate-artist-guy) and a "vision" that makes it through to your audience. Robert hits every proverbial nail on the head exactly, in my humble opinion, anyway.

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