Established around November 2015, Cut Paste PHX is a creative group of adults set out to do one thing: Make collages. “We’ve been talking about doing some type of creative project for a while,” says Lani Hudson, who runs the group’s active Instagram. “So let’s get all these creative people together, and check out a bunch of different places around town.”
The collective consists of about 10 of Phoenix’s artistic types, including Kelsey Eberle, Christian Adame, and Hudson, who work at Phoenix Art Museum, along with Jelena Milesic with the ASU School of Art, and Brendan McCaskey, owner of Jar of Buttons.
For Cut Paste PHX, five essentials are easily named as scissors, paper materials, an enthusiastic community, well-lit venues, and glue.
On a breezy spring night at GROWop in downtown Phoenix, almost everyone's holding their own pair of scissors. It's the first public event for Cut Paste PHX, which hosts one private weekly event and is working to host a public event once a month.
“BYOS?” asks Eberle asks. Why, yes. Adame adds, “Bring your own scissors, because that’s the hot commodity. Somebody always forgets.”
“I tend to lean more toward all the old books and illustrations, stuff like that,” Hudson says. “Those are super inspiring.”
A corner of the GROWop’s lawn area along Garfield Street holds a number of milk crates and old and colorful suitcases, all packed with vintage books, out-of-date magazines, and just about anything else flat and able to be cut with scissors.
“This wouldn’t be anything without the people, so that’s essential,” says Milesic, “The creativity, the good attitudes, the willingness of people to collaborate and just do this together to enjoy themselves.”
The community has stepped it up on their end, too. Each picnic table is packed with chatting browsers, cutters, and gluers. Places like the Phoenix Public Library and Stinkweeds has donated material to the group, and an attendee just handed over a huge collector of old Vogue Magazines.
Cut Paste PHX also send around collaborating books, blank books that are passed to each table at the event where participants can include a mini-collage on each page.
Hudson also take some of the final collages and scans them in, sharing as much as possible on social media and then returning the collages at the next event. She currently has a room full of stacked collages.
“A place where you can socialize is important,” Adame says. The rest agree. An ideal environment for a good Cut Paste PHX event includes communal spaces with big or long tables, plenty of room, and “lighting, lighting is key.” Hudson stresses that. She once had to bring a lamp to Valley Bar.
Then there's Essential No. 4.5: snacks. “Brendan is the key player in the edible department,” says Adame. “He hooks it up.” And does he. A full table is packed with crackers, chips, salsa, cheese, veggies – it goes on.
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“Cut and paste isn’t much without the paste,” says Hudson. “It’s not Cut-Phoenix.”
Gluesticks are scattered across the paper-wrapped tabletops, and at least the orange caps are easy to find amongst the scraps of glossy paper, old books, beer cans, wine glasses, and arms reaching for more material.