Friday, June 20, 2014

Forest Collagescape

Forest Scene, mixed media on board, 15”x15” and repurposed, antique frame overall 18.5”x18.5”

The latest piece in the Collagescape series really started with a frame I rescued from my parent’s Cape Cod basement a few years ago.  It held an inexpensive print.  It was something my dad bought for a small sum at the Goodwill or some Buffalo, New York thrift store circa 1970.  When I was young we lived in a big Victorian house in Buffalo with plenty of wall space to fill, the Cape Cod house I finished growing up in was all about windows and less wall space.  Things ended up in the basement and attic.

The quality of the Arts & Crafts frame made me suspect the cheap print was not the original purpose for the frame.  When I removed the backing, I found a certificate (see below) that the frame was custom-made for about 1894.  The certificate commemorates the passing of a board member of the Buffalo State Hospital, Charles G. Curtis, who passed away in September 1893.  I assume this was presented to his family.

The Buffalo State Hospital (originally the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane) is a registered National Historic Landmark with grounds designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted.  I remember the imposing structure from my childhood and will never forget the time my mom and a friend snuck inside.  This was about 1970, a time of reform when horrific conditions were being exposed in mental hospitals all around the nation.  My mom and her friend wanted to witness the chains still mounted to walls before they were removed. 

Today a more pleasant story for the frame, and a nod to Mr. Olmsted, as I have created a forest collagescape to be placed inside after I removed 120 years of grime to expose a beautiful piece of 19th Century craftsmanship.  The repurposed, antique frame is now part of the piece – the frame and the art inside it are meant to stay together permanently. 

This piece will be featured in my Collagescape exhibit that opens on July 29 and runs through September 28.


  1. Tamara SzarowskiJune 20, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    Fabulous story and piece of Buffalo history. Love the artwork and the story!

  2. Great history! Hope to see it in person at the opening!