Saturday, March 19, 2011

Catching Up at SGC

Hung Liu, Lifetime Achievement Award
It's Saturday night and raining in St Louis.  They are predicting possible snow flurries in the morning.  It was 75 degrees a couple days ago.  I love the variety in weather here.
When we were out and about on Friday, it was cool and clear.  Our day started with  Hung Liu receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.  She spoke compellingly about her work and how printmaking inspires her paintings (and vice versa).  She talked about being a teacher at Mills College for 21 years.  She said of her teaching style, "I dare to tell the truth" to her students.  She said teachers are like gardeners, with beautiful trees and flowers but it is hard; they burn the candle at both ends.  She said it hard to teach and work (make art). "But life is like water in a sponge.  If you squeeze, it's still there."

woodcut demo

Afterwards we headed to Wash U to attend a woodcut demo which was largely disappointing.  The artist never spoke unless asked a direct question and it appeared you could watch for 5 minutes and get the gist of the whole thing.  So we headed to a few other demos and events scheduled and inked up farm animal stencils and taped them to large Farmville prints (yes the evil Facebook app).  Searching for equilibrium everywhere we went.

Female Mouth #2
Diana poses
We found a really interesting trio from Delaware using a computer router to cut out woodcuts of parts of people's faces (from photos taken and manipulated by computer).   After the router cut out the facial feature, another artist would ink it up and print them.  It was fun to see but we felt they didn't take it far enough.  Maybe that was by design.  They did make a 5 minute presentation but might as well not have.  Here's the procedure - Take pics.  Find the vector paths and save as DFX file.  Bring into PC with Cut 2D which turns it into G code.  Then send it to the CCR.  I guess some people actually understand that stuff.  Diana had her picture taken and they made a woodcut of her lips AKA "Friday Mouth #2"  She saw it inked but didn't see them print it.  Other activities beckoned.   

Worthwhile was a panel discussion about Hung Liu's printmaking process and relationship with Trillum Press' David Salgaldo.  And a guy from Two Palms Press who prints for Elizabeth Peyton.  David's advice to artists "You have to create a place that's yours, a holy place"  in which to work.  They have created a new process they call Bastard Printmaking by which painting and prints and collage are all worked together but each layer is clear and visible and realistic.  The results are amazing.   Hung Liu talked about how she starts with an image, usually a historical photo in black and white and tries out colors on the computer.  She builds her image and over time she comes to love the image and the story it tells.  She creates several versions of her paintings, or the painting is changed into new versions, telling different parts of the story, like the one here with two women on donkey back.   

Caledonia Curry (Swoon)
The hit and heart of the conference was the Friday afternoon Community Engagement Award presentation to Caledonia Curry, also known as Swoon.  The room was packed, filled up early with young people and me and Diana :) and she sweetly accepted her award saying she had never won an award before.  (It is so hard to believe.)  She is young and beautiful and smart and so well spoken and her heart is bigger than the sky.  She started out as a bit of a rebel but learned to put her name out there and claim her place in beautifying the world and making a difference to the people who live and pass by where she puts her prints.  She has lived a life of adventure that most people dream of and made everyone in the hall think they can do it too.  She is working on building homes in Haiti and fighting for an end to the Femicide in Juarez.  One of her bits of wisdom for artists was to "find your people and stick with them" which is, I think, how printmakers work.   When the 300-400 people in the hall gave her a standing ovation at the end of her presentation she actually was brought to tears.  She said she had never had that happen before.  It will certainly not be the last.

Diana and I made a quick stop at the Publisher Fair this morning to catch up with Amanda Verbeck of Pele Prints.  She assisted Dan Welden in the first workshop I took from him in Santa Fe and this year was the chair of the portfolio exhibitions at the SGC conference.  She gave us feedback on why we were successful in getting accepted for showing when so many other groups were rejected.  It helped that we planned for this event in creating the work, so our work was on theme and universal.
Vicki LoSasso, Becca and Candace Nicol
Audrey Van Kirk on left
We then spent the next 3 hours traversing the rows and rows of open portfolios looking for works that caught our eye and sucked up the rest of the cash we brought.  I found some new Art Werger prints, and a few others that had swimmers or water themed work.  It was exhausting but fun seeing two of our group, Joe Marshall and Audrey Van Kirk sharing their wares and running into old friends from near and far (Kathryn and Andy Polk from Tucson and the Oxbow Press ladies from Reno.)  Also hitting the tables were Dan Welden and his honey, Holly, trying to see as much as possible in such a short time.  I re-met artists I had met at other conferences, or with whom I shared a print exchange.  That is the best part.  I also saw Tyler Krasowski who I bought a print from at Tom Huck's on Thursday. 

Dan and Holly
Kathryn Polk and me
It is great to see so many people putting their art out there for the world to see.  The bad news is that the prices are ridiculously low for such good work.  The good news is that the prices are ridiculously low.  If you aren't going to give other printmakers your best price, who will you give it to??? 

After a short break to drop off our prints and down a big burger we caught a late shuttle out to Bruno David Gallery where Swoon had done an installation piece on Thursday.  The gallery also was showing the Bastard Paintings of Hung Lui which were so beautiful and intriguing in person.  She was in the outer gallery when I noticed she was standing alone so I went over and told her how her work and her speech and her panel discussion were inspirational.  She was great and engaged - especially when I told her I saw her show at the ASU Art Museum many years ago.  She remembered it well and  said it was 2002.  I told her that was the year I retired from my job with the City and became an artist full time.  She gave me a friendly punch on my arm and said that was when I saved my soul!  It was a nice moment I will always remember.

When we got back to the hotel we went right into a movie to clear our heads of art for awhile- happily entertained by Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in the Adjustment Bureau.  It will be good to go home and hit the studio!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another Star Filled Day

After oversleeping in the morning and dragging through our morning victuals, we finally hit the product fair around 10:30 am.  We wasted no time in supporting many artist/papermakers in Japan with paper purchases from the Japanese Paper Place, Hiromi Paper and Awagami Factory.  Then came new linocutting tools from McClains, a long chat with Dan Welden about teaching my solarplate workshop and a quick chat with Clark (Melanie's hubby) at the AKUA booth and a happenstance rendevous with other Print Groupers:  Audrey, Linda and Joe.  None of us had seen
Our print w/ Linda,Diana,Audrey,Leslie, Joe and Wendy
our print on display so we decided to all go together so we could get a group shot.  Just as we were heading downstairs (location change to ground floor of Steinberg Hall) we saw Leslie Parsons.  We got our group shot.  I was disappointed it wasn't under plexiglass as I was told it would be but the feedback from people has been quite favorable.

History of America
History of America
We then checked out all the other portfolios on display.  We loved the idea and complexity of the History of America.  Each artist was assigned a year beginning in 1774 and the total project will require each artist to do a print of 7 different years.  The two people I know in this group, Melanie Yazzie and Candace Nicol are two of the most prolific earthmother/printmakers around. 
Digital Wunderkammer
Farming at the Edge of Equilibrium
Another portfolio that was impressive was called Digital Wunderkammer.  Indeed.  Each artist created a digital image and then all the artists used their own and/or other's images to create the work in this portfolio.  My favorite a Polk print, which I believe is Andy's (shown here on the right.  Katherine's prints showed up in several portfolios...must add her to my earthmother/printmaker list. 
We were also surprised by the portfolio about Farmville.  It didn't sound interesting in the catalog but seeing the prints totally changed our minds. 
Artemio Rodriguez and Groupie

So many prints, so little time.

There were a couple of panels we would have seen but I learned that Artemio Rodriguez, my favorite relief printer, was carving and printing everyday at Tom Huck Evil Prints.  So Joe, Diana and I headed there this afternoon where we found Artemio carving away on a woodcut.  I apologetically interrupted his work, told him he was my hero and how we used his work as examples to our students of carving techniques. We talked a little about Phoenix.  I asked him if Los Manos was gone forever, his studio in Los Angeles and he said it was just now opening again...He's going to be teaching there.  Just to be able to meet him today - I was so happy.  I explained that we wanted to attend the event Saturday night when his prints would be for sale and he offered us a first pick today.  OMG.  I now own several Artemio prints!
Tom Huck Evil Prints
Tom Huck's print studio is a warehouse converted into the most wonderful printmaker's heaven.  It is a huge space with everything a relief printmaker or screenprinter could want.  They were setting up for a big printmaking smackdown taking place tonight between the Dirty Printmakers and the Bastards of Printmaking.  Sounds fun, doesn't it?  Way past my bedtime though.  Check out this link for more info about Evil Prints.

Dan Welden and friend

And we still had one more event to take in - the reception for Dan Welden's one person show at the beautiful St Louis Artist Guild building.  We made it there just in the nick of time before the last shuttle left.  Dan's prints looked great.  It feels like home whenever he's around.  
So many stars today.  Tomorrow it will be about the women...

From St Louis

Diana Hartley and I are in St. Louis for the Southern Graphics Council conference - a heaven for printmakers!  Several other Arizona Printmaking Group members are here - Audrey Van Kirk, Linda Haas and we ran into Leslie Parsons just as she arrived at the hotel.  Haven't seen Joe Marshall yet but may run into him today. 

We went to the opening party last night at the Washington University Art Museum which has several print shows including a wonderful exhibition of Elizabeth Peyton prints.  If I were a painter I would want to paint like her.  We ran into Dan Welden there and got a big hug and more cudos for our (22.5 foot long) print.  He asked where is it hung and we told where to look for it(Bixby Hall, 2nd Floor).  We will see it today ourselves for the first time.

We took the shuttle back at the hotel; when I stepped off the bus I heard someone calling my name and  there was the beautiful shining face of Ms Melanie Yazzie.  One's heart can't feel anymore full when in her presence.  Someone in the elevator later said she was the absolute center of printmaking (in this country).  I think so too.

So we are off to a good start!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Weeklong Solarplate Workshop Deli at Bilancia, June 20-25 2011

I have finally worked out the details for the weeklong Solarplate workshop that has been percolating for over a year.  It is set up to focus on a particular topic per day so that all attendees can concentrate without distraction.  I believe all will learn from each other as we pursue each topic.  Since it is at our home studio, Bilancia, we can only take 8 participants, so it will be an intimate community of printmakers.  My favorite people!  I am calling the event a workshop deli - here is a sample of what will be served:

Select the parts and pieces that interest you to make a 1 to 5 day sandwich of delicious solarplate activities.  Each day will concentrate on a specific topic to achieve successful solarplate prints.  Whether working from a light box or exposing in the sun, you will be given the ingredients to creating a great print.


This is a preview day, mandatory for the newcomer or old-timer who needs to see the process in action.  Not hands on, but today’s session will open the door to many of the possibilities solarplate can perform. 


The key to successful prints is a good transparency.  This session will cover making transparencies from a copy machine and computer printer.  We will have a computer (HP laptop) with photoshop, and a printer (HP)available to make transparencies in the studio.  Size matters, how black does it need to be, and which products work in my printer will be subjects of the day.  No tweaking or experimenting can make up for a bad transparency.  You will learn to identify what works and what doesn’t.  For those who don’t have printers available, a side trip to Kinko’s will cover the necessities of copier created transparencies.

TUESDAY – DRAWING  10-4:00pm

The real art of solarplate comes when the artist’s hand is clearly seen.  This session will cover drawing directly on a transparency – one sided frosted mylar or on a transparency with an image you wish to modify, enhance or reduce; and creating a frosted glass surface on which you can draw.  You will learn which tools create great blacks, like stabilo pencils and a wonderfully weird tusche you will love.


Getting one’s brain around “what’s black is white” is the goal today.  Solarplates are great for relief printing and this session will cover creating plates from transparency - and working directly on the plate.  Look Ma, no transparency!  Also covered will be tips on modifying images with photoshop filters which will enhance your success.  Working directly on the plate can result in either relief or intaglio, depending on your timing.  The variety of artistic effects will be expanded in this session.


Combining relief and intaglio or combining two or more plates are the goals for this session.  Having created  your plates doesn’t end the creative process.  What else can you do, how far can you go, what if you tried this…This session will help you grow beyond the basics and help you learn to think outside of what is.  Chine colle, alternative papers and mixing it up will be encouraged.

FRIDAY – FREE PRINT  10-4:00pm

Take the day to print up a fury.  Etch that last plate you wanted to squeeze in, continue the work you didn’t get to in a previous session.  And show off the work you made with a critique of the week’s effort.

Contact me for pricing and registration information.