Fellow artist and poet Tim Scannell passed away recently, after ten years of fighting cancer.
Many of us in the independent press, poetry, mail art, and other communities admired Tim as a man of creative energy, and a generous spirit. We were fortunate to run an interview with him at ARTERIALIZE last year, done by Justynn, and below is a repost to honor Tim and the ways he touched so many lives.
Full Of Crow’s ARTERIALIZE Interview with Tim Scannell, December, 2009:
I enjoy creating things that people will not experience unless I make them. My fount (and font) is a plinth existing BEFORE GREEK CITY STATES (‘civilization’) – over 2,500 years ago – when mind lived in a ‘poetic’ realm: a surround of HER NINE YAKKING DAUGHTERS © of Mnemosyene and Zeus. Do look up the ‘nine girls’ – Calliope, Erato, etcetera. The political correctness of the present day, see my “Politics Kills Poetry” online, has destroyed huge swathes of what we once called called ART. The artistic challenge today is to connect the universal with the particular – see my essay on Robert Frost’s poem The Most of It (also online). My general philosophy, “Credo – Uncouched” is online too. I wryly adhere to Samuel Beckett’s adage, “The galley slave sticks to his oar.”
Since I am relatively new to your work I don’t know much about your past. How long have you been doing collage? What was it that initially drew you to start working with collage?
As a child, I filled scrapbooks with pictures from magazines (e.g., Collier’s, Look) – no spaces between them. In 1970 I began making montage/collage on 8.5 X 11 sheets of paper. In joining the mail-art world, I began making smaller works (postcard-size). I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of both sizes, and they are everywhere in the world…, from Uzbekistan to Japan to Australia and to most of our U.S. States.
Ironically, the only exhibition I have had of my work (about 50 or 60 examples) is in Priboj, Serbia (Feb/March, 2009) arranged by an Art professor, NeŠic Dragan (Galerija “Spirala”). The Serbian artist made a presentation and a TV station presented the exhibition on a little program. I’ve had no formal training, but admire the work of Stuart Davis, Charles Sheeler, Grant Wood, and most of the Romantic Landscape painters of the 19th century. I also love clip-art and magazine illustration wherever I find it.
Your work appears to be a simplistic construction. Most times containing no more then five panels but these few panels have more to say then meets the eye. Can you talk about this aspect and some of the central themes featured in your collages?
First, the notion of ‘simple’. I think simple is a pretty good basis for ART. Oscar Wilde said, “Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.” For example, though I really enjoy Surrealism and Dada, they are actually patina and white noise that substitute for timeless,ordinary verities: man vs. man, man vs. nature, man v. the gods, and man vs. himself. My format accepts these truths, but my emphasis is JUXTAPOSITION of imagery and symbol. My juxtapositions explicitly express conflict or harmony as functions of the four verities listed above. So why try to be ‘FAUX’ complex? Life is not complex!
I think one of the most fascinating features of your work is the variety of materials. How big is your collection of collage material? How long have you been amassing your collection? and is there anything that doesn’t make the cut?
My childhood scrapbooks disappeared. All my cuttings are now taken from second-hand magazines and paper ephemera I find in antique shops; fodder sent by fellow mail-artists; pencil/pen/crayon and – of course – duct-tape, clip-art, stickers and occasional ‘found’ objects. I have several boxes of scissored snippets from all my used sources. I refuse to buy new magazines, when I can get them for a quarter or fifty cents at thrift shops.
Now, down to the nitty gritty. How do you generally go about putting a collage together? Do you use any secret methods that you can’t speak of or are you like Max Ernst? Where ever they fall that’s where they stay?
Well, I like ol’ Max Ernst, but ‘wherever they fall, that’s where they stay’ is actually obviated by biases in pre-selection of materials. No one – ever – lives in a vacuum! Regardless of protestation, all art is calculation! As mentioned, all my visuals are from second-hand magazines and other paper ephemera. I use card stock for postcard montages, and regular copy paper for my 8.5 x 11 works. I usually riffle through several of my shallow boxes of rough snippets (pencil boxes are great because they don’t get too FULL), and select 20-30 eye-catching pieces for that day. I wind up using 5 to 15 pieces for each work. I always go from left to right – dunno why! Lengthy straight borders are made with a clear plastic ruler and an Exacto-type knife; otherwise, everything is scissored. The glue stick is better than any liquid glue because it does not ‘bleed’ through and causes no ‘wrinkling’. I scissor all materials to get rid of unwanted background and to ease desired juxtapositioning. I will ‘fill’ blank spaces with colored pencil, crayon, duct-tape or kinds of cross-hatching. All my collages are covered with a clear, adhesive shelving-paper (DUCK, clear laminate: 36 feet x 12″) – a Wal-Mart purchase which inexpensively covers my single-layer collage surfaces, protects during mailing, and prevents additions or emendations by anybody.
You incorporate word in your collages. Sometimes a poem or narration and sometimes one word. You are a good poet too; so how do you decide what to say with words in this visual medium and how to say it?
I have written poetry over 50 years now, have over 1,300 publication credits. As an editor who corrected and selected from over 10,000 poems submitted to my poetry zine, Muse of Fire, I do have what one can call…, a ‘very practiced’ application of words. I use word and poem to comment on juxtapositions, images – to add irony and satire, to jab against political correctness, or just to waft on a complementary layer of beauty. Remember that I stick to what is ‘simple’; as John Keats said, “Beauty is truth, truth Beauty, – that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”