Alan Witschonke
Icons Altars
Icons II
"Birdhouse" - 3/4 front view
"Birdhouse" - 3/4 rear view
I posted an article back in April 2007 about “Icons + Altars”, a fundraising exhibition at the New Art Center in Newton, MA. (You can see it here). I like to participate when I have time because I can stretch out artistically and try new approaches, usually in three dimensions. (I have a latent need to build things). And it’s always fun to create something within inherently broad parameters.  So this article is about the two most recent pieces I did for the show.

Detail - front
Detail - back
Detail - right
My concept for “Birdhouse” loosely relates to a book called Alex & Me by Irene M. Pepperberg. In it, the author makes a compelling case that birds and other animals have much more intelligence and “emotional depth” than we have given them credit for. She trained an African gray parrot that had a vocabulary of 100 words, could add numbers and sound out words  and understood concepts like  bigger, smaller, more, fewer and none.

Detail - roof, left side
Detail - roof, right side
 I used an actual book as the roof of the house to symbolize knowledge. The bird house is covered with pages from a book, inside and out. The two illustrations on the roof combine the elements of books and birds. The right side of the roof opens and the nesting material is shredded pages from a book. There are also two plastic birds that chirp, one poking its head out the front and another inside.

Birdhouse at sunset
This next piece was for last year’s 15th Annual Exhibit. I wanted to do something that incorporated the number 15 in it. As I was playing around with my materials, I thought that I could also turn the work into a tribute to one of my favorite artists, Jim Dine. The objects are nestled in the cut-out pages of a book. I wonder what’s up with the book theme the last two years. How either of these projects relates to icons or altars, ummm, you have to use your imagination. I guess you could say books are iconic! So if you happen to be in the Boston area on Friday, November 13th, you’re invited to the opening.

"Artifacts-15: Tribute to Jim Dine"
Icons + Altars
Recuerda Me - 2005
Approximately every other year since 1998, (depending on my workload), I have been donating an artwork to an invitational exhibition entitled, “Icons + Altars”. Now in it’s 14th year, the annual show is a major fund-raiser for The New Art Center in Newton, MA. Each year, around 100 artists are selected to participate, creating works based on their own “personal, cultural or social” interpretation of an icon or altar. Works may be two- or three-dimensional but must conform to a height, width and depth of between 12” and 18” each. The artwork is sold in a unique format. Anyone interested in purchasing a piece buys a fixed-price ticket (around $225 this year) any day during the show. On the final day of the exhibition, tickets are drawn from a bowl to determine the order in which the pieces are selected. The first name drawn gets first choice of any piece in the show and so on. Participating artists may keep up to 50% of the ticket price.

I enjoy doing pieces for this show because it allows me to stretch a little and try new techniques without having to worry about client approval. The show runs mid-November to mid-December. I haven’t created a piece yet for this year’s show but if I do, I’ll add it to the “Icons + Altars” gallery I started here on Drawger.
Victorious Secret Angel - 2001
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