The gallery is open for the Northeast Los Angeles/Highland Park Art Walk the second Saturday of each month.
The gallery is open for the Northeast Los Angeles/Highland Park Art Walk the second Saturday of each month.
The statement from the curators:
From age to age...the crash of ruin fitfully resounds. William Wordsworth
In their inherent aesthetic, emotional or inquisitive appeal, the vestiges of ruin and decay contain, for each of us, a certain level of fascination. A ruin, whether it is architectural, human or environmental, often triggers a stirring experience. These experiences can include the recognition of the uncomfortable signs of mortality or feelings of nostalgia. In its apparent familiarity, or unfamiliarity, a ruin often causes one to feel a level of comfort or discomfort, as one ends up confronting the nostalgia of what could have been or has not yet happened. For this exhibition, members of the Los Angeles Printmaking Society explore the stunning, uncomfortable and sometimes unpleasant aspects of the ruins of our contemporary society.
Artist Cathy Weiss works in woodcuts following a great tradition of artists who have used the media for its expressive and physical qualities. A close correlation could be made between Weiss’s work and many German Expressionist prints. But unlike these artists Weiss’s plays with the matrix and how she uses it to create a finished print in layers that keeps each layer separate while creating a complete image. Rather than printing her blocks one on top of the other on an opaque piece of paper, Weiss prints each layer on a ghostly thin piece of Japanese paper, creating layered prints with a sense of depth and mystery. Forms emerge as items appear above and below each other, demanding the viewer to stop and peer through these layers to reach the complete understanding of Weiss’s work. The mystery created in her presentation is a wonderful complement to the conceptual nature of her work that focuses on the often-unexplainable notions of faith and love.
Peter De Pelsmacker also takes full advantage of the matrix in his works. Creating an intaglio plate, Peter develops an installation by continuing alteration and printing of the same plate. With some similarities, but with many more differences his groupings of prints highlight the passage of time and the way printmaking can present a history of the creative process. His works seem to be both ephemeral, as they capture a moment never to be recreated, as well as concrete due to their often dense inky surfaces. Shown in a formal grid, the work smacks of minimalism while also developing a rich sense of the physiology of touch and time.
Artist Lorna Turner is not afraid of technology and of using it to capture moments before the world was saturated in email and computers. Ironically Lorna is, by day, a graphic designer whose clients include Virgin Entertainment and Design Within Reach. So it is interesting to see how her prints capture her creativity and technical proficiently in their creation of a world that seemed to have existed in the late 1950’s. In a beautifully composed suite of prints, Lorna presents two main characters, an older man and woman. Parents, grandparents perhaps, this couple is often accompanied by a young girl on their journey. Maps, text, and personal notes combine as do Lorna’s design and color choices to suggest the time and place of each stop of their cross-country trip. As a viewer I am left wanting to know more and am curious who these individuals are and why they are traveling, but more importantly I have the since of a lost moment in time knowing that neither these people or these places exist in the same manner if at all today.
Artist Dennis Johnson, also like Turner a graphic designer by day, also deals with the nostalgia in his prints. Largely working with etching, Johnson creates beautifully rendered images of architecture and signage. Controlled and formally arranged so that each building or sign seems isolated, Johnson’s prints seem both sad and longing. All are void of any human presence which makes these buildings and their wonderful neon signs appear even more lonely and even more dream-like, a mirage of another time and perhaps place, if not physically certainly mentally.
Judy Chan plays with the sense of memory in a very different way exploiting mystery and suggestion to give the viewer a sense of the past and place they may not want to remember. Judy is a native Los Angelian whose has a long and extensive career as an artist and educator. Her work combines actual physical elements as well as printed items and textures to create a dark dream. A soldier’s belt combined with the image of such a belt, an actual broken clock and images of a pile of disarrayed clothes hangers, suggest displacement, fear, and upheaval. The memories that Chan give us in her prints are bittersweet, if not painful and contrast the longing and nostalgia of Turner and Johnson.
Robynn Smith like Merrill also deals with political issues in her work, but in a very different matter. Working at a smaller scale Smith uses photographic processes to seam together images of war monuments, victims, and items of personal artifacts and devotion. Working with contrasting images, she presents the full scene of our world, sad, horrific, yet beautiful and sublime. She gives a subtle critique of war and politics for those who look to find it.
Melissa Kaup-Augustine presents works for the exhibition that are collaborative is nature. Her books present how a variety of artists interrupt concepts such as spirituality. With a variety of imagery and page layout, Melissa, a master of letterpress, uses the book form to bind together the similarities in these worldviews.
Kimiko Miyoshi is a printmaking professor at CSU Long Beach who has extensive training and experience in both traditional and experiment print processes. She is interested in transforming the mundane into the beautiful. I can see that in all of Kimiko’s work as she sees notices how water reacts on delicate paper, when she prints the patterns of different toilet papers, or sends flowers through the press to create delicate fleeting prints. I also see an element of humor in her work as I think the key to her practice is not only the elevation of an object and the creation of a sublime moment, but a childlike playful curiosity. Always after viewing Kimiko’s work, I can imagine her smiling and saying what if I did this…..
Sarah Pavsner's work does not have the quiet beauty of Kimiko’s but rather she presents a frenzy of energy in scenes that suggest dreams and mystical transformations. Sara uses printmaking for its physical qualities, creating an etched plate, she uses it without ink to emboss a paper surface. Once these raised areas have been established she then often paints or collages the work further creating a complex almost sculptural image. Her work has a childlike quality in both her marks but also in her images. Though often very serious and commenting on social issues such as the overuse of medication, Sarah’s work always has a dream-like feel that reminds me of a contemporary Chagall.
Like Sarah, Nguyen Ly creates prints that depict a dream like image. Working with dry-point Nguyen scratches into a metal plate to generate a print with a velvety line. A line that works amazingly well with her images of creatures, that seem half-man, half beast. These liminal creatures seem to truly occupy two worlds as Ly presents them turning away from us, both intriguing and beautiful while also dark and unknown.
Michelle Moode, whose on-line presence is through her etsy site Millions of Happy People, is a printmaker who loves to break the rules. A graduate of the MFA program at West Virginia University, who was originally from California and every happy to be back, Michelle’s art has a playful energy to it due to her process and the artist’s quirky nature. Michelle often works with found papers, other artists trash, receipts, and of course the tea bags from the ever-present cup of tea that she is drinking. Using these surfaces, Michelle creates a dialogue of marks and images that meander and grow across the page reacting one to the other. The conversation then continues into the form that also shift and wrap across the gallery wall as Michelle sews, pastes and constructs the final piece or installation into shape, shapes that are rarely square.
Working within the rectangular format, Jamie Ursic creates monotypes that often defy the rules of what should be put through a printing press. Jamie who has her MFA from Yale and has worked as an art’s educator for the Getty and the Heart Project, is interested in surface and depth and creates lush monotypes, by inking a plastic plate and then laying items such as rubber bands, strings, and yes the jelly bracelets from the late 80’s on top to produce a variety of textures and tones. Jamie’s work varies from playful and colorful compositions that suggest the most beloved of children’s candy to her recent work done on a residency in Italy where she worked to capture the colors of the Italian landscape and the history of both its architecture and topology.
Dirk Hagner like Jamie uses a printmaking process in a surprising way. In his works, Dirk creates a composition of words, a delicate concrete poem that seems fluid and light though the subject matters are often periods of history known for their strife and confrontation. The amazing feat is that the pieces are created with letterpress, a laborious and exacting process, where text is easiest to use in a rigid linear way. Dirk seems to defy the process in some regards in these pieces, while also allowing it to give the work a wonderful antique feel.
In so many ways Nancy’s work stands out in stark contrast to Maggie White even though both artists can be found teaching at Otis College, Nancy as the fulltime printmaking instructor and Maggie as an instructor in the continuing education program. Where Nancy deals with subtly and mystery, Maggie, a Tamarind trained printer, prefers to throw things in your face, well if not literally, at least metaphorically. Working on found images with slick surfaces and controlled photographic elements collected from art and other magazine and book sources, Maggie plays a game of in your face criticism and playful art making by silk screening images of broken eggs on top. A marble statue or seventies pencil drawing defaced by an egg seemingly thrown on-top reverberates with childhood energy and reminds of items and objects do overtime fall out of favor out of necessity or disregard.
Like Maggie, Eleanor Rembaum also deals with disregard or more aptly discarded items. A lifelong educator and artist, Eleanor has been working with the concept of the layers of the city and life in her art for many years. Recently she has been working on a series of books where she is taking recycling to heart and creating something amazing. Drawn to a sculptural book form, Eleanor was inspired to work with discarded children’s books. Selecting the heavy cardboard books she sands away the previous images and then recreates the book by appropriating textures and images from her etching. Reworking these prints, she creates three-dimensional books that resonate with the energy of history from each and every process and hand that has touched it.
Recently along with Elana Kundell, I have co-curated an exhibition that will soon open at the Studio Channel Art Galleries in Camarillo, CA. The galleries are the largest art galleries in Ventura County and are housed on the campus of California State University Channel Islands. A gorgeous building with neo-classical arches and columns that mystifies me every time, perhaps due to its elegance and the fact it was once a mental hospital. I am exciting to be filling the space with the work of other artists, my first excersion into the curation process.
The exhibition titled Print Matter(s): California Printmaking Now, presents the work of artists from across the state each using the media of printmaking in their work. The exhibition is presented as a somewhat survey giving a viewer a sense of the wealth of approaches both conceptually and formally artists are using in the print shop today. My next posts will be highlighting the work of the group of artists we selected and my reasons for including them in this show.