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January 27 to March 10, 2012

In Gallery 2

Melissa Steckbauer’s new photo-based collages are the visual remainder following a personal study in communication and intimate contact, a deviation from the overt sexuality seen in her paintings. Weaved, fringed, puckered, and diced Steckbauer diffuses the status and familiarity of her pictures by manipulating them with naive decoration. Pictures become images and objects; they leave the scope of family albums and are updated within a loose semiotics.

Steckbauer’s show in Gallery 2 at Western Exhibitions opens on Friday, January 27th, 2012 with a free public reception from 5 to 8pm and will run through March 10, 2012. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm and by appointment.

Why did you get to choose collage as your form of expression?

I was looking hard for a way out of painting. I needed something that offers a strong range of physical possibilities but that can also be completely upended by its material structure. I like that I can manage collage in layers; usually photography holds all of the juicy content and the collage is a layer of fixed ornamentation – I want the collage to work harder, to be flatter but better than the photography. I appreciate the sing-song of their interruption and realignment and interruption and realignment.

Which relationship does exist between you painting and you collages?

They share a material tenderness with a foundation in craft. I appreciate the need to train my hand in order to learn a skill; that it’s possible over time to become sincerely precise and relate to a language of forms with confidence and care. What’s nice is that you don’t have to be a genius to work in this way; I think sheer desire and repetition can lead to successful making.

What are your sources? Do you usually keep an archive of the pictures you’ll be using in your collages?

In 2006 I worked on a my first B&W analog project and I keep and recycle those images. In the last two years I’ve been creating source material with people from my current social circle and I mix that with old family photos. I am not much for archiving but what I have, I milk.

How did the digital media influence your artistic production?

Right now that has more to do with printing than producing and I’m still in research mode. I’m currently a low-fi maker but I’m flexible. The next time we talk I might be making holograms of avatars.

What if you end up being uninspired? Any tips or tricks?

The library, the train, metaphysics, meditation, body work, my bicycle (it’s like flying), green spaces, new people, more honesty, and better communication. Anything to do with the visual realm: lately I am interested in minimal patterns in textiles and elementary geometry. It could just as easily come from the grids in my tax returns or the walls of the Underground or from being with someone who rarely cries when they suddenly pull over the car of the relationship, get out, stretch, aerate, and cry.

from “Connect and Grow: Melissa Steckbauer
from The Way of Women website

This is Melissa Steckbauer's first show at Western Exhibitions. She has had solo shows in Berlin, Paris, Italy and Japan, been included in group shows in Tokyo, Brussels and Belgrade and is represented by Van der Stegen Gallery in Paris. Steckbauer has upcoming shows in 2012 in Rotterdam, Berlin and Livorno. She studied Art History at Utrecht University and fine arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received her BFA. Steckbauer lives and works in Berlin.

The opening reception is sponsored in part by the Brenner Brewing Company, a brewery-in-planning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Founder, Mike Brenner, was recently awarded the title Master Brewer after completing a rigorous international training program at the Siebel Institute of Technology, America's oldest and most respected brewing school, and the Doemens Akademie in Munich.