Tag Archives: printmaking

More art fun!

Speaking of Inuit art, (previous post) who are your favourite Inuit artists?  Do you have one….or three?   If you’re an Art Caravan follower, you know I have a few favourites, including Kenojouak Ashevak (1927-2013) and Oviloo Tunnillie (1949-2014.)

Kenojuak Ashevak, thestar.com image

 

Oviloo Tunillie, cbc.ca image

Ningiukulu Teevee is another contemporary (born in 1963) Inuit artist on my favourites list.  (Isn’t that the beauty of lists – easily edited, amended, and never ending?)  I first wrote about her in 2015.  She works in drawing and printmaking, including lithography, etching and aquatint, as well as the more traditional stone cut and stencil.  I am attracted to the sense of humour and playfulness evident in her art.  The print, Trance, seems especially appropriate to this covid winter. (sigh)

Trance, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2014, stonecut and stencil, edition of 50

Trance, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2014, stonecut and stencil, edition of 50

Her subject matter is varied; traditional stories and legends are explored, as well as contemporary experiences and life in the Arctic.  The works express a beguiling combination of charm and edginess.

You Know your Inuk When, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2016, Madrona Gallery image

Yesterday, Ningiekulu Teevee, 2008, stonecut and stencil, dorsetfinearts.com image

Since  2004, she has contributed to the annual Graphics Collection from Cape Dorset.  Boastful Owl, is a lithograph from the 2020 Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection. (Sold out!)

Boastful Owl, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2020, lithograph, dorsetfinearts.com image

In 2017, the Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibited a solo show of Teevee’s work at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.  Ningiukulu Teevee:  Kingait Stories caught the attention of the Smithsonian Magazine, who described the show  as unique and wonderful.

In 2019, Dorset Fine Arts, in conjunction with Pomegranate, published Ningiukulu Teevee:  Drawings and Prints from Cape Dorset.  Leslie Boyd’s writing accompanies the 80+ images and photographs.  Need a last minute Valentine’s Day gift?  The book is readily available through your local independent bookseller (I know, because I just ordered it!)

Gee’s Bend Quilts and…..printmaking?!

You are probably familiar with the Gee’s Bend Quilts – the quilts created by women from Gee’s Bend, in rural Alabama, U.S.A..  The colourful fabric works have been favourably – and appropriately – compared to works by Henri Matisse and Paul Klee.

Gee's Bend quilts, de Young Museum, 2017, T. Vatrt image

Gee’s Bend quilts, de Young Museum, 2017, T. Vatrt image

This Smithsonian article briefly outlines the history of the quilts, and the people living in their isolated community of Gee’s Bend, also known as Boykin, Alabama. Why was I surprised to learn that the quilts are inextricably linked to slavery, and poverty?

The quilts were made out of necessity, to keep the women and their families warm in their unheated cabins.  In Arlonzia Pettway‘s home, for example, electricity didn’t arrive until 1964,  running water was available in 1974, and a telephone installed in 1976.

Bars and blocks, Arlonzia Pettway, 2000s, soulsgrowndeep.org image

Recycled and scavenged fabrics were used for the quilts.  In the excellent NYTimes video about the Gee’s Bend quilters, While I Yet Live, one of the women recalls … Sometime you walking along the highway, you see an old piece of material, you went to pick it up and run home and give it to my momma. And, you know, she put it in a quilt.

Anna Mae Young’s quilt, below, is made of used work clothes.

Gee's Bend quilt, Anna Mae Young, 1976, Smithsonianmag.com image

Gee’s Bend quilt, Anna Mae Young, 1976, Smithsonianmag.com image

The idea of artwork being both beautiful and useful is worth exploring.  Of course, William Morris’ quote comes to mind:  Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. (Beauty of Life lecture, 1880)  Is it sacrilegious/naïve/cheeky to suggest that several well known abstract expressionist paintings could be easily swapped out for these quilts?  One could hang the quilt on the wall and take it down when needed. Goodbye Pollack, welcome Pettway!

I am sorry to say that I didn’t know anything of these artworks until October 2017.  I visited the deYoung Museum during a brief stay in San Fransisco (sigh….remember those days?!), and, as often happens, happily stumbled upon new and challenging work.  The Quilts of Gee’s Bend exhibited alongside the shows Revelations:  Art from the American South and Coming Together: Artistic Traditions of the Quilt and the Print.

I had never seen a collaboration between quilters and printmakers.  Quilting and printmaking?  How does that work?  Paulson Fontaine Press in the San Fransisco Bay Area worked with the quilters to produce limited editions of intaglio prints. Here is a very brief video from their studios, where the soft ground and aquatint etchings are produced.

Louisiana Bendolph quilt top on a soft ground plate, Paulson Fontaine Press image

Paulson Fontaine Press image

The collaboration began in 2005, and continues to the present. In 2005 and 2007, (then) Paulson Press printed an edition of  four of Louisiana Bendolph’s quilt designs.  As recently as October 2020, they released three new editions of Gee’s Bend prints by Mary Lee Bendolph and her daughter, Essie Bendolph Pettway.

 

Paulson Fontaine Press exemplifies the democratic nature of printmaking.  Working with the artist quilters of Gee’s Bend, they print the artworks in editions of 50. The art becomes accessible to more people.  Museums are collecting, and exhibiting the works.  Commercial galleries are offering the prints for sale.  Paulson Fontaine Press is also contributing a portion of their sales of the latest print release to the Equal Justice Initiative.

Useful and beautiful artwork, indeed.

 

 

All I want for Christmas…..

The Art Caravan has compiled a brief list for this year’s Christmas wish list. Since the best  gifts are books and art (dark chocolate goes without saying,) I chose one book and one work of art.

Without too much deliberation – it seemed an easy choice – Guerrilla Girls:  Art of Behaving Badly  is at the top of my list.  Goodreads.com gives it 5 stars.  The New York Times rates it as one of the Best Art Books of 2020.  It comes with a punch-out gorilla mask – who could resist?

Guerrilla Girls: The Art of Behaving Badly

Just for fun, I decided to make the choice of artwork hypothetical – price is not a consideration.  (It is, after all, a wish list.) This made the selection far more difficult.  I considered a sculpture by Oviloo Tunnnillie, the Inuit sculptor.   Here is my 2016 post about this remarkable artist, with several images of her sculptures.  The ones I like the best are of Sednas, and are in museum collections, so, hypothetically speaking, not available.  (One can makes one’s own rules in this game.)

I decided to shop for a print by Sybil Andrews, the British printmaker and welder (!) who eventually settled on Vancouver Island, after World War II.  Her linocut images, carved in the machine age style, are colourful and dynamic.

Skaters, Sybil Andrews, 1953, artsy.net image

It seems like the perfect choice, doesn’t it?  It’s a wintry scene, created in Canada, for someone with a fondness for printmaking and outdoor skating.

Since we know, and the pandemic is emphasizing,  that the best things in life aren’t things, I have a third and final wish, which is a non-material item.  (See above about making the rules.)  My wish is for high quality art education in all schools, at all age levels, as part of the basic curriculum.  This would include practical classes, wherein all students learn to draw, play a musical instrument, sing and participate in drama classes. In addition to the hands-on learning, art appreciation opportunities would be provided.  Students would attend art shows, and performances by professional actors, musicians and dancers.  Artists would regularly visit schools to lead workshops and give performances.

It’s a big wish, I know.  But think of all the benefits:  happier, healthier, creative individuals.  Employment created for artists and teachers. We know that art brings a myriad of benefits to our lives.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone had the same exposure to arts and culture?

The original Art Caravan

The original Art Caravan

I’d be happy to hear your three wishes.  And please, pass the (dark) chocolate.

 

7 reasons why Zarina Hashmi is my latest art crush….

How do you not fall for a person who said, I always had a suitcase ready….suppose I had to go somewhere?  Or, when speaking about her art (reason number two) she said,  My work is connected to language and to poetry. You know, my work is about writing.  The image follows the word.

January, 2020, I saw some of Zarina’s work in Marking Time: Process in Minimal Abstraction at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

Untitled, Zarina Hashmi, 1977, 20 sheets of needle pierced laminated paper, Guggenheim image

Untitled, Zarina, 1977, T. Vatrt image

Untitled, Zarina, 1977, T. Vatrt image

Untitled, Zarina, 1977, T. Vatrt image

Untitled, Zarina, 1977, punctured paper, T. Vatrt image

I was fascinated by her use of paper. In these works, paper is everything, with nothing added to create the image – rather it is the manipulation of the paper that results in the art.  The paper is the support,  the medium, and the subject.  (Reasons number 3 and 4:  shared love of paper and the manipulation of paper to create images and structures)

After watching this 12 minute video from the Hammer Museum, I was completely smitten with Zarina Hashmi. In the video, Ms Hashmi speaks about her life, and her work.  Not only is it a well produced, informative film, it reminded me that I saw the show Zarina: Paper like Skin  when it traveled to  The Art Institute of Chicago in 2013.  At the time I remember thinking Wow!  A printmaker! This is beautiful, meaningful work….from someone I’ve never heard about before. (Reason number 5:  good art stays with us and repeatedly delights us)

Zarina Hashmi was born in India, but was, truly, a citizen of the world.  She earned a degree in mathematics and studied printmaking (reason number 6) in Bangkok, Tokyo , and, notably, in Paris, at the renowned print shop, Atelier 17.

I just made my personal life the subject of my art. So I have to write about what I’ve gone through.  Oh, it’s very painful. I have opened up my life to the scrutiny of strangers.  (reason number 7:  her honesty)

Luhring Augustine in New York City has a good website with images of her work, and biographical information. This short video from the Tate will solidify your admiration for this artist – at least, it did for me.

Zarina Hashmi, Tate.org.uk image

 

 

 

Print Month Update AND an Amazing Artist You’ve Probably Never Heard Of….

Have you been indulging a bit, or a lot, in Print Month?

Click here for the E / AB (Online) Fair and here for the IFPDA viewing rooms.  The viewing rooms are wonderful: informative, and visually satisfying.  They really are treasure troves, and lots more fun than regular on-line shopping!  Just think:  Helen Frankenthaler, Carmen Herrera, Judy Pfaff, KiKi Smith, Marion MacPhee, Joan Miró, Rembrandt, Paulson Fontaine Press, Zea Mays Printmaking….and please, watch the video about Louise Nevelson at Tamarind Institute.

As you can imagine, The Art Caravan’s (in person) 2019 visit to NYC for Print Week was jam-packed with great art viewing. Seeing Emma Nishimura‘s work at the International Print Center New York was one of the (many) highlights.

https://www.ipcny.org

Shifting Views, 2013, Emma Nishimura

Yes!  This incredible piece, depicting the landscape near Slocan, British Columbia, is composed of cut pieces of the artist’s prints,  wrapped by hand around the rods.

Shifting Views, (detail), 2013, Emma Nishimura

Shifting Views, (detail),2013, Emma Nishimura

In this exhibition, Paper Borders, Nishimura used the forced relocation of her Japanese-Canadian grandparents to an internment camp in rural Canada during the years of World War II as source material.  (More than 22,000 Canadians of Japanese descent were required to live in camps in British Columbia.  They were allowed one suitcase per person, and their homes and property were confiscated, and sold.  Here is a brief summary of the Japanese internment in Canada.)

Nishimura’s technical skills in printmaking are exceptional.  Note the exquisite etching details she executes by hand.  The lines in the Constructed Narrative series are composed of text from historical and familial documents / papers.

Collected Stories, (detail) Emma Nishimura

Collected Stories, (detail) Emma Nishimura

Constructed Narratives 2013-ongoing series, Emma Nishimura

Constructed Narratives 2013-ongoing series, Emma Nishimura

Nishimura’s An Archive of Rememory is a most engaging series.  Furoshiki are traditional Japanese cloth used to carry everyday items, as well as gifts.  Nishimura has made furoshiki out of her etchings of internment camp and family photos.

An Archive of Rememory, 2016-ongoing, Emma Nishimura

An Archive of Rememory, 2016-ongoing, Emma Nishimura

An Archive of Rememory, 2016-ongoing, Emma Nishimura

An Archive of Rememory, 2016-ongoing, Emma Nishimura

The artworks are wrapped, and knotted into paper furoshiki, to carry the memories of a Canadian family and their community.  Her furoshiki appear simple, but are complex works.  Nishimura’s  sculptured vessels are made up of visual representations of memories of a community denied their homes and possessions.

furoshiki from An Archive of Rememory, photo etching and photo gravure on handmade flax and abaca

furoshiki from An Archive of Rememory, photo etching and photo gravure on handmade flax and abaca

It’s a lot to absorb, I know.  It’s disturbing source material.  Nishimura’s  expressions of her ideas are complex,  creative and beautiful.  If you’re interested in more information, and images of her work, I highly recommend her website .

 

 

 

 

Print Month!

I know, isn’t every month Print Month?   ( I remember, as a child,  asking my Mum,  Why isn’t there a Kids’ Day, like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?  Of course she said, Every day is Kids’ Day.)

For The Art Caravan and many art afficiandos, original, hand made, fine art prints are irresistible.  Once you get some familiarity with the world of printmakers, print studios and print shops, it’s easy to become a fan, and collector.

Each October, the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) hosts a Print Week in New York City.   This year, Print Week has become a very accessible  Print Month of (not surprisingly) online programming and exhibitions.

Last year, The Art Caravan happily traveled to NYC to meet friends, and celebrate Print Week.  The main event was held at the Jacob K. Jarvits Center.  To say we were thrilled to attend is an understatement.  I felt like I was on a pilgrimage.

Javits Center NYC, T. Vatrt image

Javits Center NYC, T. Vatrt image

The second floor of the conference centre was devoted to booths from international and North American galleries and museums.  Artwork from Dürer and Rembrandt to contemporary artists such as Swoon were on display, and for sale.  It was exciting, inspiring and provided abundant choices for the IF You could have any Artwork on Display? game.  A few happy hours were spent wandering up and down the aisles, viewing artwork and talking to the dealers.  Here’s a link to this year’s list of exhibitors.

International Fine Print Fair, 2019, NYC, T. Vatrt image

New York being New York, the art community embraces Print Week.  What I assumed would be the main event is, in reality, one of many print-rich opportunities available in both commercial and public art galleries and museums.  Because of New York based printmaker Elizabeth McAlpin‘s knowledgable recommendation, The Art Caravan also visited the E/AB Fair. This year the E/AB Fair is sponsored by the Lower East Side Printshop.

Editions / Art Book Fair, NYC, 2019, T. Vatrt image

The Editions / Art Book Fair featured hand made print editions from individual printmakers, as well as print shops. The Art Book portion is dedicated to artists creating handmade books. Many of the artists and printmakers were present, and happy to talk about printmaking.  The Art Caravan spent several hours, over two afternoons, talking shop with printers and studying the artworks.  Click here for this year’s viewing room…..and enjoy!

Leviathian V, Marion MacPhee, 2019

Levithian II (etching), Marion MacPhee, 2016

I was particularly smitten by these gorgeous etchings by Marion MacPhee from the Glasgow Print Studio It was a highlight to talk with her about the studio, and her fabulous etchings.

Viewing prints online is not the same as seeing them in person.  The textures, the marks, the depth achieved in printmaking doesn’t easily translate via photography.  (Another example of ambiguous loss.)  This year, the experience will be virtual.  Maybe next year we’ll be attending in person.  Perhaps.  In the meantime, enjoy the multiple offerings of everything print at this year’s Print Month.

 

 

Loss, …and change?

It’s a time of great loss.  The death of the American painter, Emma Amos , adds another drop into the ocean of sadness threatening to flood our world.

Black Dog Blues, Emma Amos, 1983 artnews image

Emma Amos (American, born 1938). Preparing for a Face Lift, 1981. Etching and crayon, 8 ¼ × 7 ¾ in. (21 × 19.7 cm). Courtesy of Emma Amos. © Emma Amos; courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE, New York. Licensed by VAGA, New York

Emma Amos (American, born 1938). Preparing for a Face Lift, 1981. Etching and crayon, 8 ¼ × 7 ¾ in. (21 × 19.7 cm). Courtesy of Emma Amos. © Emma Amos; courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE, New York. Licensed by VAGA, New York

Baby, Emma Amos, 1966, oil on canvas, 45" x 50"

Baby, Emma Amos, 1966, oil on canvas, 45″ x 50″

Artnews has prepared a brief slideshow of a few of her works.   Ms Amos worked across several media, from drawing and painting to printmaking, tapestry and installation work.

Emma Amos was an artist, wife, mother, and (sometimes) reluctant activitist.  She was a Guerrilla Girl! Guerrilla Girls work anonymously to expose gender and ethnic bias, but Ms Amos did say I was once a member of a very famous clandestine women’s group that worked at night and did not ever go out without masks on our faces.

Howard Cotter’s article in the New York Times Is worth a read.  It’s a factual, insightful and compassionate summary of a very accomplished artist. He points out the significance of paintings like Tightrope, Equals and Work Suit.

Tightrope, Emma Amos, 1994, acrylic on linen with African fabric borders, 82" x 58"

Tightrope, Emma Amos, 1994, acrylic on linen with African fabric borders, 82″ x 58″

Equals, Emma Amos, acrylic on linen fabric, image transfer, African fabric borders, 1992

Equals, Emma Amos, acrylic on linen fabric, image transfer, African fabric borders, 1992

Work Suit, 1994 Acrylic on linen, with African fabric borders and photo transfer, 74" x 54" Image courtesy Ryan Lee Gallery

Work Suit, 1994 Acrylic on linen, with African fabric borders and photo transfer, 74″ x 54″ Image courtesy Ryan Lee Gallery

If you’re like me, you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of Emma Amos, or seen her work.  She wondered the same thing.  The ARTnews article about her career quotes her: I wake up in the morning and say, ‘I have one piece at the Museum of Modern Art.  I wonder, Is it still there?’  ‘You know, I wonder if I’ve been deaccessioned,’ she said. ‘And I wonder how come nobody knows who I am?’

As we all know, it’s time for that to change.

 

 

 

 

 

Out of control!

It’s not only how our lives may feel at the moment, but it’s how the artist Pat Steir describes her work.  Some of her musings about making art are surprisingly relevant to our pandemic times.  The chance in a painting is like a companion, she says.

As I said in my last posting, there are about a billion ways you can spend time in front of a screen right now.  (I find myself experiencing a kind of ‘screen fatigue.’)  This short video from Pace Prints is worth five minutes of your time.  In it,  Ms Steir discusses some of her motivation and the processes for making her art.  I’m really only interested in the performance of painting and colour.  The photography is effective, and a lot of intriguing ideas are packed into a few minutes.  She cites John Cage and Agnes Martin as influences.  It’s fascinating, and inspiring, to see her combine printmaking and painting in large scale works.

Pat Steir, NYTimes image

Good news and bad news:  There’s a significant exhibition of her paintings, Color Wheel,  at the Hirshhorn, a Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.  It opened October 24, 2019 and is slated to run until  January 18, 2021. It’s wonderful that the work is being featured, but it’s unfortunate that so few people will be able to see it as all the Smithsonian Museums closed on March 14 for public health safety.  In the meantime, feel free to browse the Smithsonian Institution’s extensive on-line resources.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Canadienne Art…..Lisa Tognon

Several years ago, Martha Street Studio/Manitoba Printmakers Association showed the work of Quebec printmaker/artist Lisa Tognon.  The prints were beautiful: strong, confident lines, lots of textured space and subtle, nuanced marks.  I found the work intelligent, interesting, and technically complex.  As an artist/printmaker, it was very inspiring, and has stayed with me since then.

Bleu is a short video that shows the detailed textures of the work.  Oeuvres de Lisa Tognon (another short video) highlights her work from 2013-2014.  Not surprisingly, her work is available in many galleries, in Canada and Europe.

Bonne fete du Canada!