Cynthia Robertson | Uptown News
Local artist represents South Park spots through vignettes
When artist Alix Refshauge moved to South Park from South Carolina a few years ago with her husband, they felt at home right away. They began meeting people within the neighborhood almost immediately. As a result of her quick familiarity with the neighborhood, many of South Park’s shops and restaurants have become subjects in her collage art project.
“The neighborhood has a good feel to it,” Refshauge said.
Regarding herself mainly as a painter, Refshauge started working in other media when she moved to South Park. She explored printmaking, working on one large print of all the San Diego neighborhood signs.
“It was a complete failure,” she said of the print.
But out of that failure was borne a new idea. Refshague covered each photograph of shops and restaurants with cut paper, turning it into a collage. She dedicated an entire year to the project.
“It turned out really well,” she said. “I love making a body of work, or a series of images that all work together. It gives me focus as an artist and helps tell a more complete story to an audience.”
At her home, Refshauge also does administrative work for a company on the East Coast. When she feels like the walls are closing in, she walks down to Beech Street. She will bring her laptop and sit out on the patio at Grant’s Marketplace while enjoying a veggie sandwich from its deli. Just down the block is Ginseng Yoga where she often goes for a good stretch.
“It would be a lie if I said Hamilton’s Tavern wasn’t a big draw for us,” she added. “But we don’t go to Hamilton’s anymore since I’m pregnant. The baby is due in August.”
At South Park’s Spring Walkabout, a quarterly event highlighting local business in the neighborhood, Refshauge showed her body of collage pieces for the first time.
“I loved parents pointing to different collages and having their kids say, ‘That’s where I get my haircut!’” Refshauge said. “People are proud of this neighborhood and love living, working, hanging out here.”
The first step in creating the collage was photographing the businesses, which she accomplished through long walks with her two dogs.
She then altered the images on the computer until she sized them exactly right and obtained the correct color balance. Working from the printed images, she used an Exact-o knife and archival paper to create the collage piece. For the small lettering and details, she used ink pens. Refshauge used archival glue to compose the pieces and sprayed them with a protective varnish.
The next step in the process involves displaying the actual work in three different businesses for a month. Refshauge will place a photo of each business alongside the collage piece where people can write their memories or favorite things about the location. From there, all of the comments from the businesses will be collected and placed on Refshauge’s blog.
“My goal is for people to take a minute and verbalize why they love the neighborhood,” Refshauge said. “It’s a special place, I don’t think anyone disputes that. By having the comments all in one place, I think people will enjoy reading through what others have to say.”
If there’s a good enough response from this, Refshauge may print a catalogue or small publication of the work and some of the comments.
See more of Refshauge’s work at alixrefshauge.com/art-work.