Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Wonky Fence Walk" by Zoe Badger

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of Zoe Badger's hand pressed linocuts can be viewed and purchased at her online store Zebedee Prints.

As I walk outdoors I am first aware of the temperature. The sweep of sunlight I watch wash across the fields is also taking the edge of the chilly air. Thoughts turn inward and as they drift they tug at the iron fence now more like a loopy thread of yarn.
Shadows in the foliage become shattered shapes that drift away from each other like bits of ice that have been cracked in a pretty pattern. I am not only moving forward, but in and out, one foot in the external world of my senses and the other in the conceptual wonderland of my mind.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"The Mimic" by Grace Martin Taylor

Bodies present
But their minds are
Somewhere else
Invisible strings
Made visible by
Time and motion
Of bodies, as they
Begin to slip
Beyond their

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"There Is A Tree" by Marti Richtmyer Nash

I recently discovered this gem of a picture book at a local nature center. It was published in 2007 and is illustrated with hand-colored woodcuts by Vermont printmaker Marti Richtmyer Nash.

The literal story is simply the sights and musings of a solitary, little boy exploring the great outdoors. As there is no strong narrative, it is really much more a series of beautiful fine art prints, enriched by light prose. 

What grabbed me the most about this book was the constantly changing perspectives in the imagery. For example, in two of the images we see the boy's shorts, legs, and feet, once from the perspective of someone standing on the ground looking up at him, then again from the boy's own point of view, looking down.

The tree of the title, and where the boy sits perched, is essential to the perspective. Because he is looking down or up or across from an already elevated position, and from a branch that itself might sway under the boy's weight and movements, it becomes difficult to work out the gravitational pull or light source in many of the images. All together I read them as flashes of almost overwhelming layers of moving texture. I could feel the breeze and the flicker of sunlight as it was refracted through the passing clouds.

At the end the boy comes down from the tree, the sun sets, and the artist offers a couple views of the green land under a beautiful, yet massive and somewhat turbulent sky. I feel the boy's esteem for nature's grandeur, and because I am once against seeing him from a distance, I feel a deeper sense of my own humility and awe.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"Road of A Morning" by Gustave Baumann

I recently purchased a 2016 wall calendar. This is an important acquisition for me every year because I write all of my appointments on the wall calendar that hangs in my kitchen. I've tried to shift over to using my smart phone or Google calendar, and I simply can't do it. And anyway, needing a wall calendar is a wonderful opportunity to choose something that will become a monthly rotating work of art.

For 2016 I selected A Small, Untroubled World: The Art of Gustave Baumann, published by Pomegranate, a small publisher that focuses on fine art. I am absolutely thrilled with this purchase, not only because Baumann's woodcuts are masterful, but because this particular set of prints features my favorite color (orange) quite a bit.

Orange is especially striking when paired with blue, as in this stunning autumn landscape. As we march toward the end of November, more leaves have turned dull brown, now past the prime of their most brilliant pigmentation. So posting this image is an expression of my longing for what has just recently slipped away. My sad but fond farewell to what Camus called the "second spring" when "every leaf is a flower."

Dear friend
Walk down this road with me a while 
Who knows when we'll meet again 

Monday, November 16, 2015

"Monday Morning" by B. J. O. Nordfeldt

B. J. O. Nordfeldt (born in Sweden, but lived most of his life in the States) was another master of the white line (Provincetown) method of woodblock printmaking. There is an excellent writeup about him at the Michener Art Museum's website.

The white line runs the length of the hills and blue beyond and into the contours of the bullet-shaped flowers and woman in the floral patterned shirt and striped apron who stands over the girl clutching her doll, looking up at the woman whose black hair is tied in a tight bunt and whose graceful arms raise over her head like a dancer as she hangs linens on the line - the white line that leads into the white sheet and is lost.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"The Joint Is Jumpin'" by Bill Evaul

Bill Evaul is a contemporary Provincetown (white line woodcut) printmaker whose works are full of movement and (often cheerful) personality. Check out his website here.

The lead singer's wail breaks through the turbulence, his red mouth open wide, his eyes shut tight. In this place we do not look. The glare is too bright, the colors too garish. The guitarist is turned toward the floor. The saxophone player wears shades. Here we only listen and move in time with the vibrations.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hartmann Schedel's Locusts

These insects are large and can suddenly jump and glide a significant distance. One is perched on some leaf or blade of grass and suddenly it springs off, vanishing from sight. Many large insects frighten me, but these do not. I want to catch one, hold it in my hand, look closer at its bulging eyes that seem so alien yet friendly. I want to examine all the creases in its abdomen and striations in its wings. I imagine it is a tiny dragon. Time has slowed down, I am small, and the world is vast and wondrous once again.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

"Woman's Torso" by Sonia Romero

Image posted with the artist's permission. More about Sonia Romero's artwork can be found at her website. Prints and other original works of fine art can be purchased from her online store She Rides the Lion.

Although it bears many similarities, this isn't a wood or linoleum cut. The textured background is a collograph made with acrylic paint on mat board that is later inked up and printed. The red part is a papercut that has also been inked up and printed. Because of the delicate nature of the papercut layer, Sonia Romero only made a limited edition of 5.

Though this image seems direct in its subject and composition, the longer I stare at it, the more it seems a complex mass of contradictions. At first glance I saw an elegant floral design laid over an organic, female shape. But the longer I stare, the more I find myself meditating on the perfect symmetry and ultimately the platonic oddness of it. Faces, eyes, and teeth begin to pop in and out from the petals and leaves. I feel I have discovered a keyhole that peers into another realm. One more ordered and certainly beautiful, but still dangerous.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"Des jardins du Trocadéro l'automne", Henri Rivière

It has rained and I am bent over on a park bench feeling the caress of a cool breeze and listening to my own heartbeat.

The leaves have turned brown. Yesterday they were still lemon yellow, juicy orange, apple red. It is a strange and delicious dissolution.

They fall so gently. Float, really. Sometimes even twirl. It seems a happy dance, though they all end up on the same damp ground. There they will soon crumble, coalesce with more ancient soil, and feed the fruit of another day.

Friday, November 6, 2015

"Under the Sky" by Coco Berkman

Image posted with the artist's permission. More about the artist and her works can be found on her website and her online store StageFortPress.

I fell in love with Coco Berkman's work (her color reduction linocuts in particular) last year, but have only gotten around to writing about a piece on my blog now because I had too much trouble selecting a single piece to write about. Recently I looked at Berkman's work again and this print finally jumped out at me as one I especially want to feature.

Berkman wrote me this about the piece:

"I created it for a group show entitled 'The individual in the community', and the image comes from a stream of consciousness drawing in my sketchbook. I used only 3 colors but I think the simple color palette adds a special poetry to the image."

The idea of the "individual in the community" resonates with me as I view this image. I feel it is full of potent contradictions. The greenish-blue is somewhat drab, yet the purple is a cheery shade. All emphasis is on the portrait - the people in the background barely noticeable. Her face smack in the middle of the composition, yet cut through the center by the horizon. The substance of her body is dissolved into the landscape by a pattern of flowers and her facial features are like wobbly playground structures. There is loneliness even in a crowd.

I am reminded of this quote from Wendy Mass's The Candymakers:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"Canvas" by Anna Filimonova

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Anna Filimonova has a number of stunning color prints with as much imagination and movement as this beauty, available on her online store: Filimanaprint.

The movement is so fluid, the concentration so deep, that what flows in and out are indistinguishable. Equally equivalent are the literal interior space and the landscape of the mind. Not to mention what is happening now and what events have already passed however long ago. She is in the moment, creating.

“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person's capacity to act.” -Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi