Monday, September 29, 2014

"The Apartment (Office Shirts)” by Stella Ebner

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Stella Ebner's large-scale screen prints are currently on view in Philly at the Print Center in the exhibit Let's Go! G-O! Go!through November 22nd. You can also find more about Ebner on her website

This is one image from a series of woodcuts Ebner did in 2007. You can see others online here. I find the entire series rather compelling, particularly the ones in tones of blue. Quiet, fleeting moments of life indoors. 

I leave the closet door open most of the time. Not intentionally. There is simply no reason to close it after I retrieve what I need, and I never developed that particular habit of tidy people. As a result, when I wake up in the morning and continue lying there in bed, not yet ready to rise, I find myself staring at the shirts on hangers, lined up like deflated and pressed people in line at the DMV. 

Sometimes clothing seems so silly. Sure, in the winter it makes sense to wear all those layers of flannel and fleece, but today I went over to a friend's house at 2 in the afternoon, and her 3 year old was still running around in nothing but her underwear and a loose t-shirt, and I thought, right? 

Clothing somehow feels like a human presence. Yes, maybe that is just because they are shaped to our symmetrical, anthro forms, what with those legs and arm-like sleeves. But I suspect there is even more to it. Nakedness is a secret we forget. We define ourselves and others with our clothing. Even after we take it off, it retains a piece of our souls. I look into that closet every morning, half awake, and I feel as if I'm staring at ghosts of myself, haunting my house before I have even died. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Two White Line Woodcuts and My Visit to Maryland

This weekend I visited my friend C.W. Brooks and we worked in their studio at the University of Maryland.

I'm in transition at the moment, having finished Cat and Owl In Love and new nudes for Naked In New Hope. I was gearing up to start my next book project, but after spending the weekend immersed in ART, I've decided I need to take some time to play around and see where it gets me.

I have been wanting to make more white line woodcuts. My last attempts were with my single-sheet book Four Cats last November.

This weekend I managed to draw, carve, and make proofs of images from two 4" x 4" blocks. The first is a self portrait, and the second is a spiral. They are a little rough. Instead of doing the traditional inking and immediate printing of each section, I spontaneously inked up the entire blocks first (which I enjoyed a great deal as I used to be a painter and often miss painting), let it dry, then wet the surface of the paper before printing and embossing with the wooden spoon. Unfortunately I failed to achieve even moisture, so the look is more soft than I wanted. I'm thinking I need to get heavier watercolor paper and soak it in a tray of water and then evenly blot it dry next time.

The third photo is the table where I did these works and Brooks doing their thing. (Brooks is not a printmaker per say, but you should really check out their Twitter feed.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Joe Marshall's Shadow Set

Images posted with the permission of the artist. Find out more about Joe Marhsall's work at Pork Chop Press.

The artist calls these The Shadow Set. On their creation, he writes:

"All three prints are done on found wood that was very hard and had a lot of grain and figure in each block. I cut as little as possible to let the grain show through on the print. At the end I had to get a new set of tools."

I wrote a haikus for each one, using the same titles.

Hungry Shadow

This fur is wretched, but
When we can't find enough to eat
It gets cold.

Wave Shadow

The tide comes in, and
In trails of blood, tears, milk, cum, and spit
We dissolve.

Nameless Shadow 

A black cloud showers her
Bare back. She watches, but
We can't see her eyes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Two Woodcuts by Bertha Schrader

I read this article about Bertha Schrader earlier this month on The Linosaurus. It says that the artist began making woodcuts in her 60's, "after having already a career as an accomplished and successful painter." The Linosaurus could only find these two examples of Schrader's woodcuts (the two shown here), the first of Der Zwinger and the second depicting a windmill on the Dutch Canal.

I'm most struck by the foggy, atmospheric depth achieved in these images. There is none of the flattening out that often happens with relief prints, and in that sense they are quite painterly. Where these woodcuts do depart from Schrader's paintings is in the limited range of colors used. Here, this simplification of the image required by the medium results in a ghostly impression, such as that of a dream or memory. Edges dissolve. Solid forms melt into ethereal shadows or dancing highlights.

I look back, but it's not the same. A screen has been pulled down, obscuring my view. I am suddenly a stranger in a place where I was once adored. I find myself wondering, is this really how it always looked and smelled? Didn't it used to be bigger? Even now, it seems to shrink before my eyes. So intense is my stare through small windows, which might soon enough be keyholes. I should walk away before there is nothing left to see, and thereby keep only the impression of this place in my mind, however flawed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Sitting Nude" Gary Comoglio

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of Gary Comoglio's prints and paintings can be found at the artist's website.

The presence of an ottoman, and the fact of her nakedness tell me I'm wrong, but I'm still convinced that the subject of this print is waiting at a bus stop. Well, okay, if not a bus stop specifically, at least waiting. And bored, at that.

I am not bored, but I am also waiting. Waiting for this kaleidoscopic vision of her body created by light reflected on planes of flesh to transform with the next sigh, next itch, next shifting of her weight into the next most comfortable position. Waiting for the light to change into something less spectacular and intense, but perhaps more complex and subtle.

It is amazing how bored we can be, even as fireworks go off all around us.

Comparing two nudes by Unichi Hiratsuka

Since discovering this wonderful artist at the start of last summer, I've written about Unichi Hiratsuka's landscapes, one color, natural one, and one black and white, urban one. At we end this summer, it seems about the right time to take a look at a couple of his figures. As with the two landscapes I wrote about before, I feel these two by comparison really show the range of the artist's interests and skills.

In this first, color print, I feel the model is particularly aware of the artist (and indirectly, the audience's) gaze. Though she leans back in the chair, she holds her legs together, her arms against her chest. He muscles tighten and she seems uncomfortable. I can feel her holding the pose, waiting for the moment to pass. She stares straight ahead with an expression so blank she appears more like a doll than a person, or just someone wearing a mask. The bright, garishly contrasting colors add to the plastic qualities of the image. The screaming yellow wall, unnatural green floor, they draw further attention to this awkward, self-conscious woman, and get us to stare at her longer, wondering at what thoughts are behind her mask.

This second nude has an altogether different feel. Again, I feel as if the model is aware of our gaze, but this time she wears an impish grin as she coyly looks down, her long hair swishing around the curve of her cheek and neck. I am convinced that if she locked eyes with the artist, she'd smile. Instead of holding completely still, she seems ready to move at any moment, to either climb down, or lean back, or just to breath as she patiently waits for the artist to finish capturing an image of her.  There is a mask here, too, but it is mounted on the wall behind her, and monstrously grins, bearing huge teeth. The tiles and other framing her body remind me of layered drum beats. Her heart thumps, blood courses through her veins...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Cornish Fishing Village" by Ernest Watson

I first became aware of the work of Ernest Watson in March where I saw one of his linocuts at La Salle University Art Museum. I wrote about works from that show here.

I have since sought out more of Watson's woodcuts, and many have a particular mood that reminds me the Japanese concept of the floating world. His images read as quiet, ghostly, fleeting moments in time. This print most exemplifies that impression.

The seagulls rise up into the grey sky, most of it already dissolved, just like the sides of the houses seem erased. Only the roofs remain, haunting, grey zigzags that call to the birds. The avian herd, a small mass of Vs, respond by heading in the direction of the fading structures. They, too, disappear in the embrace.

Who is witness to this? A man and two horses. They stand on a hill overlooking where land meets the sea. They are closer to me, more solid, poised to move. Nevertheless, I'm convinced they will not last long; already they melt into the translucent ground at their feet.

I fear neither will I.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Pasadena Bridge" by Belinda Del Pesco

Image reposted with the permission of the artist. Learn more about Belinda Del Pesco and her artwork at her website or blog. I previously wrote about two other works by Del Pesco on this blog, Sleep and She Never Liked Dresses, and just had to come back for more. I love how her images just dance up to edge of surrealism, but don't quite cross over. 

The bridge stands splendid, a marvel to behold, towering over a throng of colorful subjects. The tallest trees raise their green heads in greeting. Purple grasses wiggle, fiery leaves spill out into open spaces, while red pedals peek out of dark and distant corners to feel the sun. As we reach the pinnacle, a great cloud blooms above the grand bridge's altar like a white rose; a hypnotic, floral queen. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"A Woman With A Cello" by Victoras Petravicius

A good bio of Petravicius with several of the artist's black and white prints can be found online here.

The instrument reads like another figure, another body moaning and leaning back against the woman in red gloves. She does not play; she speaks to the frowning apparition who seems to rise and float above the floor. Maybe the haunt is the celloist's self doubt, and she is explaining how she has achieved a state of ecstasy while playing Rachmaninov. As with Saint Theresa, there will be piercings, but no blood.