Collage the scissors and glue method of combining readymade imagery evolved from "papier collés," a 19th century leisure time activity of children and amateurs. It was elevated to the realm of fine art around 1912 when Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque began to include snippets of newspaper clippings, tickets, paper, wood and even sand in their cubist compositions.
Later when the dadaists and surrealists began to combine jarring imagery with suggestive associations, the method became known as collage (literally glued). Among the early practitioners in addition to Picasso and Braque were Max Ernst, Hans Arp and Kurt Schwitters. Closely related to collages are assemblages in which three-dimensional objects are used.
Gallery 2110, a handsome midtown space at the Sacramento Art Complex, has mounted a show of collages and assemblages curated by Robert Ray. Ray has a fine eye for serious and skillful work, and the show he has put together is one not to miss. It ranges from Herb Bettin's untitled photo collage, in which such disparate objects as Mount Rushmore, the Texaco sign, Walt Disney's Goofy and a Greek sculpture contend for our attention, to Natana Rose's small assemblage of paper and thread enclosed in a box that offers subtle images of open and closed windows.
On view are austere pieces such as Leslie Birleson's mixed-media "Game Theory," which combines graph paper and pattern pieces with a line drawing of a man's face, and Dennis Parlante's "Stripes" in which lines on brown paper, a stamp, upside-down writing and zebra stripes add up to a subtle yet playful composition.
Other works are brash and vivacious, most prominently Barbetta Lockart's fabric assemblage, glitzy diptych involving a wedding dress made of cloth, doilies and gold threads in sexually suggestive places. Holly Ambrose, whose work I haven't seen since the 1980s, is included with a strong surreal assemblage combining a vertebra, an African mask and a sculpture of an exotic feline.
One of the strongest works in the show is Ron Peetz's "Father Figure," the silhouette of René Magritte's man in a bowler hat filled in with wallpaper depicting a deer in the forest. Also impressive are Ray's trio of tiny abstract assemblages that, despite their small size, pack a powerful visual punch.
While the collage elements in Susan Tonkin- Riegel's "Pick Six" are submerged, it's a juicy, texturally rich combination of abstract and symbolic forms by a strong Sacramento artist.
I also liked Livia Stein's combination of collage and painting, "Column #II," with its ominous overtones in dark forms, patterns and drawn lines. Also interesting is Carol Dalton's combination of abstract painting with collage elements including a rusty square with a hole, a button and pull, and a gridlike pattern, a wonderful interplay of freedom and structure.
You'll have to hurry if you want to see this show, because it will only be up through July 6.
Where: Gallery 2110, 2110 K St., Sacramento
When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday through July 6
Information: (916) 476-5500; www.gallery2110.com