Tag Archives: Art Shows

Month of Printmaking 2018 and Other Doings

“Conceptual Studio”, Monotype. Actually an impression of a very real studio where I worked during a residency in Sheridan, WY. It is up for auction to benefit the Art Students League of Colorado during their “Art and Soul” gala, February 10.

I’m Preparing art for a number of different shows and events this Spring. Most are related to the MoPrint (Month of Printmaking) festival of events and I’m organizing one event myself. It makes for a busy schedule.

“Master Printer and Print Educators of Colorado”, McNichols Building 3rd Floor, January 13-April 8 : This one has already opened, though viewing hours are limited, and the venue is often closed for private parties. The best way to see it may be the MoPrint Kick Off event on February 23 at 6-9 PM. I will be there. I have 3 pieces in the show ( I fall into the second category in the title), but I did not have any large work ready for the show.

“Hand Pulled: Mark Lunning’s Open Press”, PACE Center, Parker, Co, March 2-April 30: This is a show honoring the Open Press artists. The printmaking facility on Bayaud Ave run by Master Printer Mark Lunning is soon to close and move to Sterling, Colorado owing to the rapidly dwindling affordable space for arts orgs during the recent development boom. I haven’t worked there in a couple of years, since I now do most of my work at the Arts Students League, so this show will feature 3-5 large pieces from my past work there. It will be a mini retrospective of sorts. Opens March 2, 5:30-8 PM

Open Portfolio, Redline Gallery, March 17, 2-5 PM: This will probably be the most affordable show I’ve done in a long time. It was a fun show during the last MoPrint (2016) so I’ve decided to join it this year. Every artist has more art than they can sell, and this will be for printmakers, a chance to clean out the flat files at bargain prices, and that’s just what I’m doing. You’ll also see a lot of young artists trying to launch a name for themselves, I’m sure. Starting a print collection, and on a budget?

Art and Soul, Art Students League, February 10: This is the major fundraiser for the League, a big party with food and art auctions to benefit the school, and I always donate a piece. Tickets here.

artma, February 8: A fairly glitzy event that benefits The Morgan Adams Foundation.org. This year it will be in the Evans School at 11th and Acoma, an opportunity in itself to see this historic building.

I’ll mention here that many of us artists are approached by charity auctions on a regular basis. Any auction is risky to begin with, as it can be damaging to your ‘market value’, especially if poorly organized and callous about their donating artists’ career needs, as many appallingly are.

This is not one of those, however. artma is the creme de la creme of charity auctions, with artists on the board of the event, professional treatment for donating artists, and an overall spirit of gratitude for artists’ generosity. I’ve been donating for several years because of this.

Meininger Art Supply, Broadway, March 3, 11-1 PM: I’ll be doing a monotype demo here. It’s a fun place to do one, and well equipped for the large groups they usually get. It’s about an hour, but you get a coupon at the end. Come early for a good seat, though they have mirrors and PA, so it works in the cheap seats, too.

Monotype-aThon, Art Students League, March 3, 9-5 PM: Same day! I’ll rush over there to join eight other artists doing 2-3 hour shifts, with the public invited to watch and kibbitz. There will be prints donated for sale to benefit the League and MoPrint, light snacks and lots of different approaches to monotype making.

A Moxie U class at the Art Students League, March 15, provides a more ‘hands-on’ intro to monotypes, with materials provided and all the ink mixing and prep done for you. It’s less than $35, so it’s a great way to celebrate Moprint 2018!

I’ll have a complete list of all Spring workshops soon.

I’ll look for some of you at these events. Feel free to come say hello and chat.

Walk Right In?

Textures and graphic effects are a way of bringing energy to a print composition. A highly detailed texture will attract the eye and demand attention, a subtle one will invite mental rest and contemplation. A heavier, darker texture or a very transparent one will tend to create depth by playing off what’s behind or underneath it. In this three staged monotype, I had some fairly unique coloring and a balanced, if plain image, and I put it aside with a vague feeling of disappointment as it really didn’t have a lot of intrigue. Intrigue can be defined in prints, probably in all art, as something, a bit of mystery or surprise that might keep the eye exploring the picture, possibly to extract meaning ( or determine if meaning is indeed there), or to solve the puzzle of its composition, or simply to bring the visual exploration to a fairly logical stopping point.

In this case, I didn’t want to give up on the print because I liked the sense of calm, or is it desolation? which I think comes from the pink light and the fairly empty expanse on the left side. So I wanted to heighten that distance and light, without cluttering the picture.

I did this print last year, and while I loved the strange colors and stylized interplay between positive and negative elements, it seemed too sparse to call finished.

The picture was also a bit sparse though, lacked a real focal point and featured mostly hard edges. I wanted to add a bit of visual richness and narrative movement while maintaining the graphic simplicity.

First I added in some more visual elements in the foreground which enhanced the designerly, modernist look of the first layer, and although these are also hard-edged shapes (created with mylar overlays), I think the addition of more complexity in the foreground makes the emptiness in the background more pronounced.

I added some foreground darks to create a focal point in opposition to the rather empty background.

Then I thickened the glade at the right avoiding too much clutter, by adding some trace monotype lines.

I rediscoverd trace monotype, a favorite from Paul Klee’s early work in my art history class days, and decided to experiment with it to see if it might add to these pictures I’d never finished. It has a fairly spontaneous and softer-edged feel to it as opposed to the hard edge of the mylar stencilling, which might, given the subject ( strangely lit glade) add some visual balance. The softer-edged elements were placed in front of the earlier graphic elements, not usually how you do it, but as in photography, the depth of field is being manipulated to sharpen and highlight middle ground elements, an example of what I mean by visual intrigue. When you highlight or sharpen the middle ground, you are, in effect, asking the viewer to “enter” past the foreground elements. Like pushing to the front of the crowd for a street busker, say, it asks for a bit of commitment.

It added a bit of “dirty” look to the print, which adds an edgy but also timeless feel to the modernist hard edges. Blacks ( not too heavy) always add depth by bringing out color and balancing tones, which here were sitting mostly in the middle-light to middle-dark range except the ghostly whites. I used the trace mainly for spindly forest brush (plant) images and ground debris which adds a bit of suggested perspective and realistic “bottom” to the pic, but also a kind of synaesthesia in that one can imagine the crackling of twigs, which draws one in to the place depicted. It’s also somewhat calligraphic and hints at a story in the scene. The second layer of leafy designs in mylar  plays off the twigs to create a sort of diversity of textures and heightens the original play of positive negative space in the pic. I like that the imagery is denser, but the two image sets are now in a bit of visual tension with each other in a sort of necker cube shift of dark and light. Is the white log stencil some sort of border treatment, or is it a log that has shifted to another dimension. A ghost log? I always enjoy signal-to-noise problems, and this one suggests information degradation or decay, since it exists at the edge of the picture plane, where an image might be expected to fade anyway.

Whether this all works is of course for the viewer to decide, but as the “first” viewer, it made me happier.  This was a print which seemingly had no chance of ever being seen by the public, until I decided that other textures might make it just intriguing enough to show ( Yes, I have to see intrigue, or at least stylistic interplay in something before I can bring myself to show it). It seemed to lack any sort of visual grace or interior dialog beyond the pink and brown coloring, which I always loved, and which probably kept it near the top of the stack of unfinished items, rather than buried in a flat file. It seems to have a fair amount of depth and “placeness” in it now. It’s a place I would like to go to and walk around in, so I went there.

You can see it and judge for yourself at the Art Students League Summer Art Market, June 10-11, Booth #96, where I’ll be showing it along with work by my booth mate, Taiko Chandler.

The finished piece has quite a bit more texture, including rub marks from the trace monotype.

Living Large

 

"Grove With Black Sun", 15x22", 2013 This monotype was created by overlaying new imagery onto the ghost of another print.
“Grove With Black Sun”, 15×22″, 2013 This monotype was created by overlaying new imagery onto the ghost of another print.

Large work has been a priority for me last Fall, and didn’t happen quite as much as I’d like, so I extended “printing season” into December.  I went down to Open Press ( a somewhat legendary print studio in Denver ) and started on 2 30×42” monotypes, one of which was completed, and will be in a 25th Anniversary Open Press Show.  It’s easier to work on 2 pieces at once, with the second being a ghost of the 1st run-through (“drop”) of the first. This gives me more options or ways forward if one goes wrong, or needs extra attention, especially if I’m on a deadline. And it worked- I got a nice monotype on the 2nd variation, applying a new layer over the top, then leaving the 1st variation, which was meant to have 1 drop, but needed two, for a head start on January’s return to studio.

The need to keep a good inventory of small work ( for cash flow purposes) and attend to other, business-side issues  (such as this website) really make it hard to carve out the “large” blocks of time needed for work over 22×30″.  So I’ve decided I will keep going in at least once a month and working on large work, so I can have an inventory by November. This is how most things work for me. I even made a “schedule” of time blocks for such things as Social Media, Web and Framing. I don’t always stick to it, especially when picking up temp jobs for extra cash, but it does tend to keep vital tasks  from getting lost in the shuffle.

I’m also working on Month of Printmaking (#MoPrint 2014).  MoPrint is intended to showcase, on a biennial  basis, the large, diverse and exciting range of printmaking being produced in the Denver Metro region, and in Colorado at large.  It will be a great event to be a part of, so it’s good I was able to squeeze in the extra working time. I’m helping with a Studio Tour on March 29, as well as contributing to Social Media.

It will run from Feb 28, 2014, through March and even into April, and the Open Press 25th Anniversary show at McNichols building in the 3rd floor gallery will be the kick off party , though the show is available for viewing on Saturdays, 10-2 PM from January 11th on.  Thanks to a generous donor there will be a nice catalog, too.

 It will feature a multitude of gallery shows, studio demos and special events intended to allow those interested in this rich yet often ignored medium to learn first hand and up close what Denver printmakers and print studios have to offer. Here’s a link: http://moprint.org/ You can upload your own event there.

I’ll post an image of the larger works when I receive a file from the photographer. In the mean time, above is a smaller one as a preview of sorts.

Judgement Day

Core New Art Space is at 900 Santa Fe Dr, in the Santa Fe Art District.
Core New Art Space is at 900 Santa Fe Dr, in the Santa Fe Art District.

I was recently asked to jury a show at Core New Art Space, a co-op gallery I used to be a member of in the 80’s. The show’s theme was “Horizontal Line”. Here are some thoughts from a Juror’s Statement I wrote for the entrants and show-goers.

Jurying a show (my first time solo) is fun and tough. Fun, in that there was a lot of great work, and I’m sure I’ll be meeting new artists at Friday night’s opening at Core New Art Space.

Tough, as I had to leave out a lot of work I did like to create a tight and focussed show, which was a priority. Above is a teaser photo. This was taken just after jurying finished, so any work glimpsed here is in the show.

One can never explicate a set of hard and fast rules for such a time-specific and ad-hoc process as jurying a show. It is common to say that jurying is subjective, and not so common to explain how that affects a given set of choices, so I’ll address that here. My objective was to give a good accounting of work that engaged the theme “Horizontal Line” in the context of a professionally presented art show. If work engaged the theme in an original and professionally adept way, I wanted it in the show. If it failed on some level, I wanted it out. A complementary concern was to find a show that fit the space well, and that created some very tough decisions.

In addition to work that thematically or technically excelled and which I juried in immediately; or alternatively, work juried out quickly as it fell short of the mark; There was a t least 50% of the work that required a real decision on my part. I’ll give you some of my intentions, and beliefs and define some terms here to illuminate that process.

As to theme, I confess to a bias in favor of metaphor and visual complexity, as I tried to outline on my own and Core’s Facebook pages: “‘Horizontal Line’ is a very simple theme but carries complex implications, including landscape, narrative and time. I’ll be looking for entries that have thematic energy…”. So some entries were well presented and fit the theme in a basic way, but were left out in favor of more complex works that presented narrative or visual metaphor. This is defined as complex colors that communicated tension or ambiguity, surprising or subversive forms within the theme, or hidden narratives. However, I’ll admit to inconsistency here, in that there were a couple of pieces that were somewhat tangential to the theme, whose strength in conception and execution made them impossible to leave out, no matter how many times I tried.

Technical concerns: Core New Art Space has been around for 30-plus years, and has presented a lot of young artists early in their careers, including me. Though work with marginal presentation or technical skills is always welcome if it is thematically strong, I recommend self-jurying your own work before entering.  Then devote more time and resources to conception, presentation, and materials and enter fewer, stronger works. It’s good to try a number of shows, yes, but three pieces that are marginally presented and tangential to the theme aren’t better than one that engages the theme and is attractively presented.

Also,  I believe larger work, though it’s often hard to sell in this city often provides the best route to developing and finishing an idea. This can be seen in my choices for “Best of Show” ( not a hard choice; its sense of narrative from an idealized, abstract, distant horizon to an all too real foreground fenceline ), and “Honorable Mention”  another large piece with a real sense of depth and conceptual resolution. Many smaller pieces in the show might’ve made honorable mention, but I decided on only one.

Thanks to all that entered, even those who were not included. I could well have made a second, smaller, non-thematic show that is just as attractive. Thanks to Core members who left me alone to make my own decisions and mistakes. I’ll discuss and advocate for work in the show at a Gallery talk at 3 Pm, Sunday July 28. It will be hard for me to comment on work not in front of me, but I’ll be happy to dialog about the show and theme in general.