abstract art graphic design mixed media

Fine Art Collage Workshop with Derek Gores in Eau Gallie

I have a whole new perspective on Melbourne, Florida. Not that I ever spent any amount of time here other than for the interview for my current job and a party weekend with a gal pal who worked for Harrison 25 years ago. I suppose if you consider any of the shuttle launches and unbearable traffic after they scrubbed… not a great impression of the space coast.

Well, that all changed this past weekend when I got to spend a weekend at Derek Gores’ collage workshop in the Eau Gallie Arts District (EGAD). The vibe reminded me of western Central Ave. in St. Pete and the Gulfport area. Very artsy, quaint outdoor eateries, funky kava and coffee shops, and a private speakeasy or two! This along with all of the art shops, vintage clothes, and galleries truly sparked a “buy local” theme.

We rented a charming private room within walking distance of the district which was a great choice over staying at the beach. I pulled my wagon of art supplies to Derek Gores Art Gallery and his Rocky Water Mercantile shop full of eclectic wares, handcrafted sundries, vintage finds and art supplies.

His space reminded me of my days at Rutgers University in New Jersey during the 80s when Madonna and George Michael were hot. It also brought back memories of visiting funking shops in Greenwich Village seeing photos of Debbie Harry, Billy Idol and their ilk plastered on the walls on the way to the restroom.

I met Derek at the sidewalk while a trio of musicians busked in front of his gallery. It was first Friday, and the street was bustling with creative energy. There was a party going on at the gallery and local visual artists were in attendance as well as an aerial acrobat on a hoop type gyroscope. The night before, the gallery hosted a nude sushi event for a local association.

Of course, Derek’s art was the star of the show. 100% collage with no addition of paint or other mixed media, inspired by his experience as an art director and his love of visual aesthetics of the fashion industry. His talents creatively combine to draw you in with a fascinating use of trompe l’oeil. Not only do they draw you in from a distance, but once you get up close and personal, you find yourself of a visual treasure hunt looking for people in the construction of faces and crossword puzzles inside garments, as well as reading articles from magazines that add to the visual intrigue of his art. It is truly an active explorational participation on the part of the viewer.

Many of the images he creates are high fashion women and nudes but he had pieces with NASA astronauts, a samorai, the cover of Playboy featuring Hugh Heffner, Frank Sinatra, unmentionables (a lingerie series), still life pieces such as shoes, butterflies, a phonograph, flowers, and even a Porche on the hood of a Porche!

Derek’s creativity is a sight to behold as he peruses magazines ripping out intriguing designs with artistic flair. He doesn’t sculpt the collage pieces and he never used tracing paper or scissors. He simply tore the paper and, without overthinking, swiftly allowed the piece to direct where it should be placed… not by the shape of the paper, but by the visual interest of the recycled scrap. He would find a shape in an article that echoed a part of his subject matter. Then, he tore a strip and placed it loosely to create the boundary between the vase and the background as one unit. Definitely a 3d chess move that I need to incorporate into my future collage work. It is a different thought process and takes practice to hone.

Not only was the workshop a great learning experience, but meeting fellow artists who traveled from Utah, Texas, and Colorado to take his workshop added to the delight of the weekend. We dined together at local restaurants as we shared stories of our art journeys. By far, the largest group of participants was from the west coast of Florida from Tampa to Lakeland to Charlotte county.

Visit my youtube channel to see two videos from the workshop. One is an intro tutorial as Derek works on a student’s piece. The other, he cleverly creates an collage eye from a fashion model advertisement where he uses people for eyelashes and letters for the gleam. Very intriguing indeed!

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