Birdie Lusch
"Collages & Assemblages"
September 10 - October 10, 2017

Birdie Lusch (1903 - 1988) was a self-taught artist from Columbus, Ohio. A factory worker for most of her adult life, she began making art as a teenager, producing books and albums filled with drawings, collages, poetry and writing.

This exhibition of two bodies of work 10 collages and 12 assemblages - reveals Birdie as a home-spun surrealist incorporating all sorts of materials, from rocks and sea shells to magazine clippings and art historical reproductions, into works of disarming poetry. Her art was wildly diverse in its forms and materials yet infused throughout by a singular spirit of creative generosity.

Each of the collages consists of pieces of magazine photographs arranged into the simplified image of flowers in a vase. Pasted onto pages from an old Hallmark Cards sales catalogue, these works have a deft elegance that belies the complexity of their play with the literal and the illusory.

The wall-hung assemblages convey a similarly infectiously playful spirit but in more physically pronounced ways and with more various imagery. One has vibrant bouquet of yellow flowers painted on the end of a salvaged fruit crate, a substrate used in several other pieces, Two especially mysterious examples, rough wooden fruit crate parts frame empty tubular bottles painted gold and silver on the one hand and red white and blue on the other. They call to mind Joseph Cornell and Jasper Johns. The exhibition's largest piece, the dreamily rustic "Art's Mouth," looks like a collaboration between Arthur Dove and Max Ernst.

The single free-standing sculpture one view is a small side table that has its central leg covered with colorful pieces of broken crockery. Displayed on the burlap weave of the table's top is one of Birdie's "Rock Heads," a smooth, rounded stone with mouth, nose and eyes made of smaller stones. In Birdie's hands, anything could be turned into art, and that's what she did with everything she got her hands on.

This is Birdie Lusch's 4th exhibition at Kerry Schuss gallery. Most recently at Independent New York in 2015, "Collages: June - July 1973" in 2014 was reviewed in Artforum. and "Collages 1983" in 2006 was reviewed in The New Yorker.

Birdie Lusch 1984
at her front door holding painting titled "Morning Visitor"
photo: Kerry Schuss