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Press Release

Nailya Alexander Gallery is pleased to present Steve Wilson Collages, on view online from 3 January to 26 February 2022. 

Steve Wilson (1945–2013) was an artist and writer who lived and worked at the heart of the counterculture of the early 1960s and became a fixture in the "Denver Underground.” The son of a transient pipe layer, he grew up moving from place to place across the American Southwest; from a young age, he drew inspiration from books, visualizing from lines of words a world of color, form, and design that would become his passion as time progressed. After dropping out of high school, Wilson attended the University of Arizona. Later, driven by his innate wanderlust and a taste for a bohemian aesthetic and lifestyle, he settled in Colorado. Wilson supported his artistic endeavors by working as an antiquarian bookseller and publisher of underground poetry. Among his friends were Hunter S. Thompson, the founder of “Gonzo” journalism; experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage; and the visionary Beat poet and writer Allen Ginsberg. 

The majority of Wilson's work consists of collages made for close friends and, especially in his later years, for his muse and companion Michelle White. This exhibition features his later collages, which his admirers deem his strongest work and which take the form of cards and postcards, with letters written inside and on verso. Steve’s expressionistic visual vocabulary includes evocative imagery from the old magazines he collected, as well as his own whimsical drawings; while the written letters range include musings on daily life and the weather, recollections, and expressions of love. “Monday rolls round again,” he writes on one card. “Be thankful for no snow anyway…first thought on waking was crazy collage. You are what you eat and it follows that you are what you collage…” On another, he pondered his next work: “Next collage—no figures. Just things. Solid things. Ghost things. And pieces of places…” Wilson’s messages and stories evoke nostalgia, and at the same time are expressions of his love of life.