One More Time,” a mixed-media creation on panels, shows all of Michael Cutlip’s collage skills in play.
Photo: Tony Molatore,, Berkeley Giclee, K. Imperial Fine Art, S.F.

Saturday, June 7, 2014
BY: kenneth Baker (Art Critic of SF Chronicle)

After photography, collage is the most democratic modern art technique.

Stuff piles up in everyone’s life and memory, but few, even among collage makers, can reorder it as artfully as Berkeleyan Michael Cutlip.
A show of his recent work fills to bursting the tiny K. Imperial Fine Art space.
Collage does not go obsolete because we, in cities especially, cannot avoid seeing reality by bits and pieces,
in remnants and flashes of novelty.

The trick for the collage artist is not only to gather material with creative nerve endings exposed but to
assemble it in ways true to our experience of perpetually interrupted observation and recall.
Cutlip’s “One More Time” (2008-14) shows all his skills in play: decisions hop-scotching across six panels,
nimble jumps between levels of detail that yo-yo the viewer’s focal distance, blasts of ciphers that turn seeing into reading and back again.

And note how well he handles his objects’ edges, often the least resolved zone of the collagist’s art.

Adhering collage elements to panels on which he can also paint, Cutlip gives just the right heft to his compositions,
a balancing act that many who work in this vein never perfect.

Cutlip proves his light touch in yet another way by allowing humor to leak into and from his work.

The absurdities of daily life often spark in the sort of collisions the collage scavenger prizes.
Cutlip neither forces nor resists them, offering, in this regard, an example to us all.

Michael Cutlip: Bye, Bye, Birdie: Collage paintings. Through June 30. K. Imperial Fine Art, 49 Geary St., S.F. (415) 277-7230,

Kenneth Baker is The San Francisco Chronicle’s art critic. E-mail: Twitter: @kennethbakersf