California in Relief

The Hearst Art Gallery at St. Mary’s College is currently exhibiting California in Relief: A History in Wood and Linocut Prints, which we were able to visit this weekend. The relief prints are displayed chronologically (mostly…there are some confusing corners) and begin in the late 19th century with some beautiful woodcuts with eastern influences. There is a Gustave Baumann print, Redwoods. It’s not my favorite of his, but fun to see the oatmeal paper and heart-in-the-hand up close.My favorite by far was a Linda Lee Boyd print, Pouring Concrete III which is an ode to everything that the woodcut can provide – the fine grain on the man’s face and shirt lifted subtly with an electric engraver set against the stark flatness of a thickly inked brayer.

The curators also did an excellent job with the wall colors; deep, rich hues behind the large black and white woodcuts from the 60s enlivened what could have been a very bland experience.
Worth the trip for a half-lit walk through history…

Show: California in Relief: A History in Wood and Linocut Prints
Venue: Hearst Art Gallery, St. Mary’s College of California
Dates: July 25 – September 20, 2009
Ambiance: library-esque gallery nestled in Spanish mission