Elliptical Thinking at Wally Workman

Please join us in Austin, Texas for the opening of Elliptical Thinking. All new work from the past two years, the show includes eight large scale color wheel compositions, several diptych Conversations, and prints from the Fascinators series of allegorical portraits. To read more about the work and the thinking behind each piece, the interior of the show catalog can be downloaded in pdf format here. Wally, Rachel, and I look forward to seeing you in the gallery!

What: Elliptical Thinking (Part II)
Where: Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, TX
When: October 7-28, Artist Talk: Oct 5th @ 6pm, Opening: Oct 7 @ 6pm
Ambiance: 179 panels and all the spaces between them

Northern Print Plate Prep

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From the end of May to the beginning of June, I enjoyed working at Northern Print in Newcastle upon Tyne. The studio, with a full suite of printmaking facilities awards a residency prize at each Biennale. I was fulfilling 2014’s prize and was lucky to overlap with 2016’s awardee Lisa Andrén. Above, testing three copper plates at 100% black for the newest edition. Below, the ferric chloride corner:

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Powdered pigment for ink mixing:

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Aquatinted plates, clean and ready:

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A caged proof:

Finding the time:

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11e Biennale de Gravure: Dérive(s)

The 11th Biennale de Gravure opens this Friday at La Boverie in Liège, Belgium. The theme of the exhibition cycle is “Dérive(s)” or “Drift(s),” which references the “Dérivation” canal that meets the Meuse river to form the peninsula on which the museum is located. While researching the concept/translation, I was seduced by an extension of the word put forth by Guy Debord describing “a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances” in which you allow yourself to “drift” (usually through an urban landscape) without a planned destination. It is a way of discovering the world often used while traveling, moving to a new place, or following toddlers all of which I have enjoyed doing in the past two years.

While this research impacted choices for color wheels I was painting late summer of last year (particularly Carolina Color Wheels: Drift), the prints in this show are several portraits from the Fascinators series (2016) as well as selections from Lonely Hearts (2014) – both of which take on “drift” from a more psychological angle.

Here is a complete list of my fellow printmakers whose work will be on view during the biennial. The opening and ceremony will take place Friday March 17th at 7pm.

What: 11e Biennale de Gravure: Dérive(s)
Where: La Boverie, Liège, Belgium
When: March 17 – May 14, 2017
Ambiance: This building makes me want to check a coat and open a journal.

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Elliptical Thinking

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Elliptical Thinking opened this Saturday at Rockport Center for the Arts with an artist talk, opening reception, and the official beginning of a six week residency. Taylor Hendrix, director of visual arts, led the question/answer style talk beginning with a poem by Wendell Berry:

Traveling at Home.

Even in a country you know by heart
it’s hard to go the same way twice.
The life of the going changes.
The chances change and make a new way.
Any tree or stone or bird
can be the bud of a new direction. The
natural correction is to make intent
of accident. To get back before dark
is the art of going.

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We used the poem to inspire thoughts about repetitive practices and making room for chance in the art process. On view are several new color wheel sets created this year in North Carolina and the “sketchbucket” models suspended in a cascade near the opening of the garden gallery. I will be demonstrating the printing process for the next few weeks here on the Art Center’s press, a custom model donated by the well-known Rockport native artist Al Barnes.

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What: Elliptical Thinking – residency and exhibition
Where: Rockport Center for the Arts, Rockport, Texas
When: October 15 – November 19, 2016
Ambiance: coastal accumulation of consideration and repetition

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Under Pressure at Rochester Contemporary

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Sponsored by the Print Club of Rochester, Under Pressure opened this weekend at Rochester Contemporary. Scale, in its full spectrum, was a choice made apparent by the collection of work, from Heather Swenson’s card-sized screenprint series to Jenny Robinson’s larger architectural intaglios. (below)

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Limited palette also played a strong role in the overall feel of the exhibition. Heather’s collections of in-progress inquiries are fresh and conscientiously optimistic. I’ve been in love with her work since jurying the club’s Echoes of the Past show this past spring. Here are the first 35 cards in her year-long weekly-editioned series The Tiny Print Project with close-ups of week 12 and week 29 (my personal favorite). The space left open on the bottom shelf will allow her to add the three prints she’ll create during the weeks the exhibition is on view:

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Heather’s work manages to be clear-eyed and confusing, familiar and foreign at the same time. Every one of her pieces seems to be a short story prompt or at least an invitation to daydream. In week 29, I imagine a tiny occupant in each of these aquarium-like balconies and a small stairwell in between, the two inhabitants meeting there sometimes to take refuge in the windowless retreat. Perhaps each only ever looks out of his or her one designated window and describes the view to the other in that enclosed space between. It also looks a bit like a Lego piece, like a giant child could pick it up and click it into place. Here’s an angled view of one of her larger screenprints:

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My own palette is not dissimilar from Heather’s. We both gravitate towards teals and grays, fresh sands, and a guarded, but intentional use of vibrant accents. Moderation in all things – including moderation. For this installation, I chose two Carolina Color Wheels that would hang well with a new series of portraits from 2016, Fascinators, a portfolio of girls wearing paradoxical or mathematical topographic shapes as hats.

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I’ve written a bit about the ongoing Color Wheels series here. While the process is still the same, the most recent abstract panel groupings have focused more intentionally on trying to describe consciousness, emergentism, and linked thought-related processes. Similarly, the Möbius strip hats worn by the girls in the portrait series are also looking at and attempting to visually solidify thought processes.

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Overall, four types of printmaking are highlighted in this show. April Vollmer‘s work brings Western iconography to hieroglyphic narrative woodcut scrolls. Jenny Robinson‘s large-scale architectural intaglios combine collagraph with monoprint. Heather Swenson is showing several screenprinted still lifes inspired by collage. And finally, my Fascinators portraits are each combinations of woodcut and drypoint, while the Carolina Color Wheels mix media with drypoint on copper.

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What: Under Pressure: Redefining the Multiple
Where: Rochester Contemporary, Rochester NY
When: September 2 – 25, 2016
Ambiance: space in which conscientiously compressed areas of space breathe

Graphic Arts Workshop and Print Club of Rochester

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On view in the LAB space in conjunction with the Under Pressure show, a recent collaboration between Graphic Arts Workshop and the Print Club of Rochester presented a diverse group of prints in various techniques from the West and East Coast associations.

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Two of my favorite prints from the Graphic Arts Workshop happened also to be two of the smallest. Power Moiré by Anthony Ryan (above left) and Three of Spades by Mariko Jesse (above right) were both tiny prints floating in a clean expanse of paper frame. Ryan’s work pulls the viewer close and in, while Jesse’s card-like plate had a milkiness to it that made me want to pick it up off the paper.

From the Print Club of Rochester, I was drawn to two pieces for their chromatic cleanliness. Treasure Sun Set by Carol Aquilano is a color reduction woodcut at its boldest, with all the transparency and sticky-edged carving marks of relief as expressive medium, while Katherine Baca-Bielinis’s Philadelphia Charm gives an impressionistic glimpse of a column, an archway and the beginning of an ornate ceiling. It’s as if we are watching these forms develop and vanish as they pass in and out of view – that the viewer might even be necessary to their existence.

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Finally, a conceptual piece from Adam Werth, president of the Print Club of Rochester. The materials description on the information panel reads: non-variable data, inkjet, collage. It’s a bit of a troll piece as well since the portfolio format dictates that it must stay on top of the print stack for the creases not to flatten or warp the other prints. I currently have this work in my studio – a good reminder on several levels. The title: 😉.

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What: Graphic Arts Workshop and Print Club of Rochester Trade Portfolio
Where: Rochester Contemporary, Rochester NY
When: September 2 – 25, 2016
Ambiance: the unbound bounty of bi-coastal brotherhoods

Orange is the new studio color.

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I haven’t yet had time to dedicate a post to the new press, a fiery orange Takach with a 36″ x 48″ press bed. In the meantime, here’s a little still life with some of the more complex möbius models that are accumulating on the frame. The figure in the foreground is a torus of 12 möbius strips designed by Rick Russ. Behind it, a double möbius with linked circular openings designed by Furquan.

Facing History at the Victoria & Albert Museum

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Eleven of the Forty Fridas are currently on view at the V&A in London as part of the Facing History exhibit curated by Gill Saunders. The show displays 80 prints and photographs from the museum’s collection that “explore a variety of artists’ responses to the idea of portraiture over the last 20 years.”

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The Guardian review picks up on my abiding interest in games

Yet portraiture is also a masquerade, a game. Artists have been playing with poses ever since the Renaissance. Today Cindy Sherman does it, as does Ellen Heck, who in her coloured woodcuts gets her friends to pose as Frida Kahlo. They all become Frida for a day. But who is Frida? She herself joins in the game, posing as Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine, who now sports that unmistakable thick monobrow.

Portraiture, when you start enjoying its formality and its awkwardness, turns out to be an art of infinite possibility. This a pleasing glimpse of the past’s future.

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Gill Saunders, Senior Curator of Prints, writes more about her interest in the Fridas for this show in Art in Print. She will be giving a Lunchtime Lecture about Facing History on March 2, 2016. Many thanks to Jenny Robinson for taking these installation shots.

What: Facing History: Contemporary Portraiture
Where: Victoria & Albert Museum, London
When: July 27, 2015 – April 24, 2016
Ambiance: to steal the Guardian’s last line – a pleasing glimpse of the past’s future

Copper and Wood: Roi Partridge and Richard Wagener

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Two California printmakers with lifetime links to the Sierra Nevada are currently on view at Mills College. The landscape prints of Roi Partridge (1888-1984) and Richard Wagener (1944-) are sculptural, full of movement, majestic—yet intimate in size. They have both built their imagery though an accumulation of lines. Partridge has etched his deeply into copper. They appear as rich threads of black ink, fuzzy on the paper and raised. The trunks of his trees twist and curl like spirit woods from Arthur Rackham’s golden age Grimm’s fairy tales. Wagener, on the other hand, is composing with a negative line—a precise, white removal of hard wood from an engraved block. His images are solid and iconic. They also show movement, but it seems frozen and rigid as if there is not a breath of wind and the twists of trunks and thrusts of mountains are sculpted from the turbulence of an earlier time. The work of both men makes one want to make a solitary pilgrimage in appreciation of California’s natural wonders.

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What: Copper and Wood: Roi Partridge and Richard Wagener, 100 Years of Printmaking
Where: Mills College, Olin Library
When: January 25 – March 13, 2015
Ambiance: tiny, black and white library windows into California’s greatest spaces

Emma Hunter: Solve et Coagula

A series of cyanotypes that has stayed with me since seeing them for the first time at the International Print Biennale this summer, Emma Hunter‘s hauntingly beautiful echoes of biomedical imagery, Solve et Coagula, are everything a print portfolio should be.

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The series, part of Stream, a larger collaboration with cardiovascular magnetic resonance reader, Dr Philip Kilner, captures the movement of blood through the human heart in ghostly white strokes in a deep blue ocean-like environment. The images show only the movement of fluid, but the flow shows the boundaries of the developing muscles that are propelling and directing the continuation of life.

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With this project, the UK-based artist, “[invites] audiences to make visual connections between our inner and outer landscapes; the micro and macro, and to consider the biomedical and ecological implications of these connections.”

What: Solve et Coagula
Where: on display at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London
When: permanently
Ambiance: like images of galaxies, complex structures made visible by light and movement