An assemblage of varied artistic interests

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Connie George
Artist Peggy Vermeer prepares one of her assemblage pieces that appear whimsical, but contain deeper meaning.
Photo courtesy of Peggy Vermeer

An 88-year-old working artist in Palm Springs with a long history of exhibitions and awards has found an ideal way to combine all of her creative interests into one art form — assemblage.

Peggy Vermeer, who spent several decades painting in oils and acrylics while occasionally venturing into sculpture, batik, papermaking and print making, discovered four years ago that her fascination with the potential creative use of random, unrelated objects could be used as the springboard for a new artistic path.

Drawing from items as unrelated as rusted springs, old computer elements, parts of dolls, preserved birds, broken jewelry, artificial flowers, plastic skeletons — “anything I can find,” she said — Vermeer combines the pieces into presentations that appear whimsical, but actually have deeper meaning.

During the creative process, she is able to draw on her other experience, skillfully adding paint, handmade paper and prints, or bits of cloth or metal, balancing all with the careful eye of an experienced artist.

One of her assemblage pieces, called “15 Minutes of Fame,” combines an Academy Award, a clock and a stuffed raven. The pieces are arranged in a setting designed to look like an altar.

While the work is a curious combination of elements and invites closer examination, Vermeer said the intent of the piece is to illustrate how fleeting fame can be, and how we all face death eventually, as represented by the raven.

Vermeer moved to the valley in 1962, and her work has been accepted into all major juried art shows in the valley, garnering her numerous awards.

Most recently, “15 Minutes of Fame” received the Preston Ormsby Memorial Award at last month’s ACE 2012 exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

“I love it — it’s fun,” she said of her new form of artistic expression. “And when you win an award like I just won, it’s very gratifying.”

Her home in the eclectic neighborhood of Araby Cove is filled with Vermeer’s past, present and in-process work, and illustrates the artist’s versatility.

“I studied to be a teacher because my mother said, ‘You have to have a backup plan.’ But I always wanted to be an artist,” Vermeer said.

For more information on Peggy Vermeer and her work, visit www.artassemblages.com.