Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Exhibit at Galerie Hertz

I have to admit that it was a little disheartening, maybe even a little discouraging, that Alex and Allison were my only students from Printmaking class to see my exhibit at Galerie Hetrz.  In fact, they were my only students from all of my classes.  My twenty seniors from the seminars haven't been over either, and who knows if they even will go. There was a time when students used to show en masse to their professor's exhibition openings. Either times are changing, or I'm changing, and I don't know if I know how to redesign the paradigm or if I should just accept at as is.

This year's faculty opening last month also had a low student turn-out, especially given that it was on campus and just down the hallway from the studios, and that it introduced our newest faculty member, Brian Harper, in Ceramics.  I used to go to all of my artist-professors' openings, in both undergraduate and graduate schools, sometimes out of curiosity, many times out of respect, maybe even sometimes out of the "brownie-points" awarded for such gestures. Whatever the reason, seeing a body of work created by my professors was big in understanding their aesthetics, the temperament of their criticisms, their processes, and their concepts and how they resolved them.  It used to be that when we, as students, attended exhibition openings of our professors' works, it was about that hunger or hope for refreshment, about absorbing motivation from those veteran artists who we worked so closely with; those who could lift my day by acknowledging my creative efforts with a positive comment or who could send me in a downward spiral by not recognizing my efforts or any of the successes they might have contained.  Attending their openings, or even just seeing their exhibitions after-the-fact, was ultimately because I wanted to see growth in their work as badly as they pushed for growth in mine.

Many students look at us, their professors, and sometimes forget, or are not aware, that we are practicing professional artists.  They also maybe don't realize that the miliue they have chosen to inhabit is the very one we've existed in for, in some cases, decades.  The road they're traveling is the very road we've traveled, and to be engaged in that journey is such an enriching learning experience, both personally and professionally;  to not engage fully in that journey is an underappreciation of the value of that education.

I jokingly said in class a day or so ago that I would award extra credit for those who went to see my exhibit.  My students chuckled at that suggestion.  After class I though it was a little sad that I was, although jokingly on one level and truthfully on another, trying to buy them into going to see my exhibit.  Have times changed so much? Has curiosity become so narrow that it doesn't expand outside of ourselves to include the creative efforts of our colleagues and peers? Have our worlds become too complex and unrewarding to include the celebrations of others? What is the paradigm, and how do we shift it to something that is more inclusive and encompassing?    

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Go see this exhibit.  It'll be worth it in the long run. GALERIE HERTZ, PRESTON ST.


Is there anyone out there?  Is there too much tension in your life, are you stretched and strained? Are you putting too much intellectual effort into coming up with an idea?  Do you need to throw out some possibilities for feedback?  Hello...... 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Opening:

Bog II, Digital Monotype, 16" x 24", 2008

The opening today was really great.  It started a little show with about ten or so people, and by 2:00 the gallery was pretty crowded and remained pretty steady until well after 4:00.  Billy, Laura, and Althea did a beautiful job with the installation and the peripherals, Tom did an artful job with the chili, the other 'refreshments', and also his touch on what is turning into a beautiful outdoor garden. The transformation of this space has been amazing, both inside and out.  When people walk into the gallery they marvel at the space before they even notice what's on the walls. It's really a beautiful space for showing and seeing art.

I received a lot of great feedback on the work, 26 pieces that still felt like new work.  Actually, I guess it really is new since other than the faculty exhibition, where six of the pieces were shown, it was the first time all of this work has been exhibited.  And, that it's really a 'new' body of work, unlike the work I had done before.  I enjoyed seeing it all at the same time for the first time, instead of one piece at a time, which is about all I can do in my studio space.  I appreciate very much Allison and Alex stopping by, that meant a lot to me, thank you.  I hope the rest of you printmakers from class will take a little time to go over to see what I've been up to in my studio.  Also, thanks Susan and Marilyn (Scott and John) and Donna for also coming over, that support from my department and faculty spouses (and, actually, my campus) meant a lot as well. The exhibit continues through November 27. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mid-States Exhibition

This drawing was just accepted into the 54th Annual Mid-States Exhibition at the Evansville Museum in Evansville, IN.  It's a graphite drawing, 22" x 30" on Arches 88, that I executed as part of my "Vices" series (that quit-smoking phase that I'm still battling).  The Juror was Rutger Brandt, Director of Galerie Mokum of Holland, the most well known and respected venue for representational art in the Netherlands.  The exhibit runs from December 7 until January 18.  Go check it out if you have the chance.  

Monday, October 13, 2008


Today we will be discussing a theme-based portfolio project during class.  I have brought in such a portfolio that was developed by Professor Debra Fisher from SUNY Brockport a couple of years ago. The theme was "Walking on Water".  She invited 29 printmakers to respond to that theme and to create an edition of 40 impressions.  Many of you have seen my contribution to the portfolio, but I'll also include it here.  My thinking about walking on water was that in order to do so, I had to get out of the boat.  The print is entitled, Disembark.

So after a show/tell of the Walking on Water portfolio, several theme ideas were put up for consideration: tension, non-portraits, animals, movement, thin-air, music, interpersonal relationships, explosive, personality, and childhood.  The nominating process is now closed, and the theme idea that gets the most votes will be our theme for this exchange portfolio.

Paper size was established at 11" x 14", no minimum image size was set.

Edition size will be 13.  Intaglio or Relief

There are a some interesting possibilities for imagery and processing.  You can vote here so we can all keep track of the tally.  All votes cast by 1:30 on Wednesday.  I'll vote in the case of a tie.

UPDATE:  Tension, act of stretching or straining; state of being stretched or strained; mental or emotional strain; strong intellectual effort; intense suppressed excitement; a strained state of mutual relations; pressure; a state in which a body is stretched or increased in size in one direction with a decrease in size in a certain ratio in a perpendicular direction; a force tending to elongate a body; the condition of a dielectric body when its opposite surfaces are oppositely electrified; potential; a device for stretching or pulling something; a device to hold the proper tension on the material being woven in a loom.

The potentials of this theme are enormous, especially since it defines so effectively the act of printmaking: act of stretching or straining (intaglio and silkscreen); mental or emotional strain (printmaking in general); strong intellectual effort (printmaking in general); intense suppressed excitement (printmaking in general); a strained state of mutual relations (printmaking in general); Pressure......printmaking, printmaking, printmaking.

Printmaking is my medium, my tension.  It holds me captive through its sensual presence and quality, both of which are incomparable: metal plates abraded and etched with marks and textures; inks adjusted for rubbing into and/or rolling onto the matricies; dampened paper to accommodate the subtlest nuances of the relationship between the matrix and the inks once significant pressure is applied.  I love the rituals of moving throughout the printshop to various locations of processing, and the sounds of the press as I turn the wheel to pull an impression.  I love the physicality of printmaking.  It's animated, tactile, fragrant, and real.  It's abundant with the most rewarding of tensions.

So we'll look at some of those possibilities on Monday, your potentials.  Until then, I hope you'll stop by to see my new work on Sunday at Galerie Hertz.  A new body of work: landscapes.  In hindsight, they are my home, my childhood, many of my life-changing experiences.  They represent for me safety and danger at the same time.  They are dense, textured, and magical. Cynthia, my wife, told me this evening that they were about those parts of me that she didn't know because they were parts of me that I didn't tell her, but that she knew nonetheless.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Night Veil, digital w/monotype, relief, crystals 
Passages, digital w/montype

I will be opening an exhibition of new work at Galerie Hertz, 1253 South Preston Street, on Sunday, October 19, with a reception from 1:00 - 4:00. A series of digital monotypes created during the past year.  A Digital Monotype, for my purpose, is an image that has been printed from an inkjet printer and then layered with traditional printmaking inks from relief and nonporous surfaces.  Many of the images are actually layers of images.  After shooting various landscapes from all of our seasons, I manipulate them in photshop to increase their density.  In fact, when I shoot landscapes, it tends to be from a perspective within the landscape rather than at the landscape as I love the density and moodiness of that point of view.  I then print the image onto a heavy Somerset Velvet paper with an Epson 7800 digital printer.  Looking through other landscapes images I've photographed, I find another, usually a different season, that has a similar feel as the first one I printed.  After manipulating that one, I feed the first image through the printer again and layer the second on top.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.  I have a pile attesting to the later.  When it didn't work, it was because the sensors in the digital printer couldn't read "white" paper, thereby causing the printer to quit in mid-image.  However, when it did work, that's when I became more passionate about the possibilities.  After having two layers of imagery printed digitally, I then took that print to my French Tool press and often printed color separation monotypes on top or relief patterns, adding more layers to the complexity of the images.

I hope you can stop by for the opening, or at least while it's at the gallery.  

Back From Fargo

Attending the Mid America Print Council conference in Fargo was an interesting five days of travel and print education exposure and I think we all came away from it with new perspectives in many different areas.  There were seven current and former IUS folks.  Besides Donna, Susan, Rob, Jamie, and me, we were joined by Brett, who is working on his MFA at the University of Cincinnati, and Diana, a 2006 BFA graduate in printmaking and who recently moved to Minnesota.  She was very generous toting us around to various conference sites in her BMW.  Of course we had to fold Donna and Rob many times into the luggage compartment to get everyone into the car.  Many thanks to Diana.

The panels we attended were enlightening and covered a wide range of topics: "Printmaking: A System of Languages" was attended by everyone except me as I was presenting to the Board of the MAPC about the American Print Alliance: www.printalliance.org. 

"A Sense of Space", chaired by Karen Kunc.  Several artists on this panel discussed how their senses of space and their geographic locations influence their work, and how that work defined the print tradition, although much of what we saw pushed the boundaries of those traditions.

"The Role of Classical Practices in the Digital Age" explored the relevance of the traditional (classical) practice of observation and experimental interpretation in the participating panelists works.  It was chaired by Cynthia Kukla,  who questioned whether or not artists still embraced the classical methods in a world where imagery sources are so abundant via the internet.  One of the panelists, Flounder Lee, discussed his work which utilizes maping through such sources as GPS and Google Earth, and he documents all of his internet searches in his work.

"Teaching Critical Thinking in Print" was also very enlightening.  Each of the panelists in this presentation raised points about the complexity of relationships in collaboration and criticism. Phyllis McGibbon was an especially interesting presenter as she discussed the extremes of technique driven vs. concept driven instruction and how the integration of concept driven assignments help students to engage in the practice of critical thinking with technical instruction.

Finally, "What?!...a Woodcut?!" brought a few of the country's leading relief artists together to discuss their innovations in that medium.  Karen Kunc was, of course, very interesting in her presentation.  See her work at:  www.karenkunc.com

The exhibits at the conference were too numerous to single any one of them out, but they all were rich in the traditions and innovations of the printmaking media, from centuries old Rembrandts, to current digital applications.

The studio demonstrations were also engaging.  E. C. Cunningham's Phot-intaglio/Collagraph/Monoprint was inspiring. It was a large sheet of masonite with areas built up with gesso, modeling paste, carborundum, and solar plates.  A separation monotype was first printed and then the masonite matrix was inked and wiped intaglio and printed on top.  It was stunning.

Art Werger's Color Mezzotint  www.wergerprint.com demonstration was also very enjoyable. both artists had several of their students helping which expedited their laborious processes to a final impression.  One of the most interesting demonstrations was by Chris Flynn of Anchor Graphics who printed an intaglio digital combination with chine colle.  His passion for printmaking was infectious and I especially appreciated his attention to the craft of his work. The resulting print was beautiful.

Anyway, that's it in a nutshell.  See you tomorrow.