Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Woodcuts in ICPNY's New Prints 2014/Summer Exhibition (Part 3 of 3)

...continued from yesterday:

Transmission #3 by Howard Paine 

The great blackness, simultaneously bulging and voice, reaches out toward the left, activating buds which grow red with stimulation. The neglected counterparts on the right remain still and gray, but their time will come soon enough.

This print resonated personally for me as I've just endured a five day hospital stay for pancreatic followed by two procedures to remove a pancreatic stone which was causing the trouble. Afterward the doc gave me photographs taken inside my gut. It felt amazing to see photographs taken by a tiny camera which had traveled down my throat all the way down to my digestive organs. The technological possibilities today are so impressive, yet creepy. The creepy often comes out in how medical staff speak to worried patients; at some point the doctor told me that if this procedure didn't work they'd have to "filet" a valve. Um, can we not talk about my organs using a butcher's vocabulary? But the fact is, the technology fixed a problem. No more pain, and they didn't even have to open me up. 

Ah, what mysterious worlds exist within the wholes of bodies and on the level of viruses and cells. How alien it appears when we look close enough. Even more-so when we dare to touch. 

Howard Paine's organic work (check it out on his website) is a sort of visual quest into the strange and small, if not microscopic environments where naturalists and scientists dare to tread. He begins with having direct contact with his subjects, but the images develop through an elaborate process that often combines traditional printmaking with digital assemblage and machine printing.

In his statement he says he wants to "start a conversation." Certainly so many mysterious, often ominous, yet oddly familiar images hold that potential. I particularly love that he makes images of butterflies which are not pretty. 

Runoff by Bill Pangburn 

Is this the mess we mean to clean up after the fact? Or is it what we were seeking the whole time, and just didn't know? I thought I wanted to go home and sit in a freshly-vacuumed living room. Maybe read a book. Some New York Times best seller featured twice on NPR. But now I'm not sure. Something is nagging at me. I feel I need to stay here and witness this. Not speak or otherwise interact. Just witness. 

Bill Pangburn creates purely abstract works. In all the many examples of installations and works on paper from his website, lines of varying thickness and color slither, drip, are draped, or otherwise work their way down a vertical composition. Each is titled specifically, and after looking at the whole collection, the title "Runoff" does seem most appropriate for this particular image. Pangburn is one of those artists who has found a keyhole through which to discover the whole world; a body of work such as his shows the limitlessness of variation. 

Ruckenfigur by Barry O'Keefe 

I think I know that guy... no, nevermind. 

Barry O'Keefe has a large number of other wonderful woodcuts featured on his website, including a couple more ruckenfigurs, sleeping subjects, and portraits in profile in the portraits section - I totally feel like a creeper who stares at people at coffee houses or on the bus after checking those works out. But in a good way. 

O'Keefe is an up-and-coming, socially-conscious artist. Still in his 20's and working on his MFA at Ohio University, he's already had a significant impact in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia; the East End Cemetery where many African American residents were buried had become overgrown from neglect. O'Keefe created limited edition woodcut portraits of three of the most prominent people who were buried there and then sold them to raise money toward the restoration efforts. Learn about those portraits here, and an article in Style Weekly from earlier this year here

I look forward to following O'Keefe's career and seeing what he creates in the years to come.

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