It took but a few seconds for Dr. Fido, Tim Spelios’s amiably pepless old pup, to determine that I was an acceptably boring presence, an apparently important matter in securing ease of entry to the home. With that established, the artist and I relieved a 60-year-old pear tree in his Greenpoint backyard of several pounds of recent yields, then headed upstairs to his studio. It was a key time to engage in both activities. In about a week, many of his newest works would be heading out the door for his second solo exhibition at Studio 10, Do Not Blow Horn Use Bell (through October 6). And a week or so thereafter, he and his wife, artist Caroline Cox, would be moving home and studios—and perhaps a temporarily disgruntled Dr. Fido—to Ridgewood.
“I wanted to shake things up a bit this time,” said Spelios, whose predominantly black and white collages—meticulously clean, visually mellifluous mergings of well-preserved vintage images culled mostly from old books—favor softened corners and rounded, rotundly amoeba-like forms over sharp angles and punctilious intricacies. While such formal elements in his work remain largely unchanged since his last show, the orientation of many of them and his plans for presentation are quite different. “I built out a wall,” he said, “so I can hang tall vertical pieces there, and maybe some long horizontals in a corner. Other stuff too. But no frames this time.” In short, the walls would not again be lined with dozens of finely corniced, consistently sized pieces. What he will revisit, however, is a centerpieced installation of source materials and ephemera, yet this time he’s building large tables of the glass-sandwich sort that will cycle through four distinctly titled displays over the show’s run. “I’ll put receipts, small collages, all kinds of things in there,” he said, “and probably this guy,” he added, handing me a well-yellowed clipping of an old image of a saint whose backdropped nimbus appeared strangely—yet here so relevantly—amoebic. Implied formal inspiration, indeed on several levels in this case, could be no clearer. Overall, though, with filmstrip-like lengths of collages on walls surrounding tables arranged with snippets from and inputs for the same, it seems the show might have a cutting-room feel, which would work nicely with Spelios’s often cinematically oneiric imagery. Music, at some point, will play a role as well. A seasoned percussionist, Spelios plans to perform with fellow Studio 10 artist Matt Freedman.
On my way out I noticed that the forms and curves in Dr. Fido’s black and white coat bear a certain resemblance to those in Spelios’s collages. Then I said goodbye to one and all and went home to eat some methane pears.