There is another reason to visit the Crary Art Gallery this month besides the debut of the works by Rembrandt and Edward S. Curtis. A large, colorful show of collage paintings is sure to take up where the autumn leaves have left off, starting Sunday, Nov. 6, at 1 p.m.
Tennessee artist Anne Bagby cobbles together a dense patchwork of color, portraits, and bits of this and that. She creates a very beautiful order out of the chaos of just about anything she can put her hands on, tied together with paint and color. The paintings are composed of layer upon layer of collaged images, news clippings, buttons, springs, beads and jewels, old canvases, patterns, words, even brass mechanisms. The chaos of it all comes together to form a little world of meaning, all within the framework of twelve-inch by twelve-inch canvases. Lots of them.
The Crary will display about sixty of her works in three of the galleries. The paintings borrow from the quilting tradition as much as from scrapbooking and fine art. They are often highly textured, and some are painted to look textured on top of that. Viewers are invited to contemplate the world of the person often depicted in a portrait in many of the canvases. The portrait is surrounded by playfully sumptuous, colorful bits and pieces of their world. It is hard to say whether these worlds are more often fractured bits left over from a whole universe, or a whole universe created new from random bits of cast-off material. In any case, it is obvious that the artist spent much time rearranging - sometimes endlessly as it must be - all these elements.
"My paintings are concerned with the relationships we have with the world and with ourselves and with who we want the world to think we are." The kaleidoscopic effect then, is something akin to the way we are linked to the world, and the way the world is linked to us. She sees her work "like a journal. Whatever you are thinking about at the time, filters into the work in small ways." And there are certainly a lot of things she had to be thinking about to conjure the work now on display at the Crary.
A Skype interview with the artist is available from the gallery's web site (crarygallery.org) or on Facebook, where Ms. Bagby describes her process in detail with Crary Art Gallery board member Brad Conquer.
The show opens to the public at 1pm until 4pm this Sunday, November 6 and runs through Saturday December 3. Prior to the public opening there is a special preview reception for Crary members with harp music played by Ellen Paquette, from noon to 1 p.m. Admission is always free, with regular hours as follows: Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.
Article courtesy Thomas Paquette.