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Staten Island, New York, United States

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Collaborative Process: Kicking it up a Notch

Bruce Cohn and I are coming into the homestretch for our exhibit Abrazo Argentina: Embracing a Culture.* At this point, Bruce has 13 pieces framed and ready to go. He has at least another 10 photos printed, some matted. I have 4 pieces finished and hanging on Bruce's walls, where I have room to back up and look at them, and we can see them with his photos. Hey - it looks like a nice show!

About 4 months into our project, Bruce suggested we revisit the library in Tottenville where our exhibit is going to be installed, with the idea mostly that he could envision the appropriate size for printing out his photos and how many pieces in the downstairs area we should prepare. It turns out that was a good move. We discovered that the upstairs wall space was NOT exactly all the same height on both sides of the room (a little drama). But, since I had not finished very many of the large canvas pieces (which is what we want to install up there) at that point, it was not tragic. I mentally re-adjusted my vague plan of shapes and sizes for the four pieces I planned to put on that side of the room.   Looking at the room again I thought 8 large-scale canvases would work well there.  

Bruce doing what he does
We reviewed all of Bruce's photos again. He, because he wanted to make sure he didn't miss a gem in the 1400-some photos he took in Argentina. I wanted to look at his photos for source material. I want to do another tango piece (okay - I ALWAYS want to do another tango piece - it's a compulsion), a gaucho collage, and a streetscape. These are only vaguely formed in my head. The photos refreshed my eyes. 

It has been such a gift to have Bruce walk into my studio at key points in the process and help me get unstuck. Also, having a deadline forces me to find solutions and move forward. By the same token, I have seen something in photos Bruce had previously dismissed and urged him to reconsider them. One of his photos was a whimsical shot of a crane and a lamppost. It caught my eye and made me laugh. I hope he prints it out and includes it in the show.

I have recently started using liquid acrylics, something I wish I had done from the start. I'm hoping this will speed up production (I hate to put it like that, but it's a reality), because I'm not spending so much time mixing paint. Little discoveries like this and the fact that I love working on the large scale canvases   are the side benefits of this project.

Bruce and I communicate constantly, e-mailing ideas and photos. I've asked him to make slides for me to project onto the canvas and trace around and he's printed dozens of source photos for me. 

Denise in her studio working on Cafe Life,
Carnavale in progress in background
photo (c) 2013 Bruce Cohn
We have to move quickly to finish up the art work. The intention was to be finished by the end of September and then to focus on installation and marketing in October. Now September is nearly over!

As it turns out, Bruce has been able to turn his attention to some marketing. Thank goodness. He designed our postcards and took care of getting them printed.  We talk up the exhibit everywhere we go and now we can hand out the postcard. He also had a sign made to put up in front of the library and is even making the structure to attach it to.

As for me, I'd better get back to the studio.
*This project is made possible (in part) by an Encore Grant from Staten Island Arts, with public funding from the New York State Council on the Arts.

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