Lauren King, our intern from Pennsylvania State University, wrote the following reaction to our current exhibition,”A Wonder-Filled Life” by Neena Birch. The show will continue through Sunday, June 29th.
From May 28 – June 29, 2014, Washington Printmakers Gallery presents a retrospective exhibition on Neena Birch’s extensive collection entitled A Wonder-Filled Life. A one-time member of WPG, Birch created these 60 prints, drawings and paintings, which all demonstrate her diverse and evolving artistic style. This exhibition pays tribute to that talent and consequently her admirable creative impact that still lives.
Neena Birch’s works combine nature with imagination. Upon entering, the viewer sees the moss-covered sculpture Bed. It awaits a sleeper, and in a sense, the visit resembles a reverie. Birch uses recurring themes such as birds, women, pears, and flowers, and gives these everyday subjects meaning and creativity. Her women become trees; the pears are anthropomorphized, while the birds take on a life of their own. These works evoke emotion and thought that may differ with each viewer. No piece is the same, yet they all evoke a sense of Birch’s artistic hand and mind.
Birch’s exhibit exemplifies variations on recurrent themes, and this exhibition links these themes in one show. One fascinating theme is the flower. Her floral depictions are unlike any of her other works, which made me question her intention. They seem like the work of another artist, but similar to the rest of her works, they too are fantasized. Like the pears, the birds, and the other subjects, the flower lithographs have their own variations: they are larger than life. Birch creates an enlarged depiction where curves, shadows, and shapes make up the flower. They are dreamlike and realistic at the same time. Monochromatic yet enticing, these lithographs break down the flowers’ forms and give the viewer new perspectives. Neena Birch’s works demonstrate her true artistic talent that creates new realities.
Emma Quander, our intern from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), wrote the following reaction to our current exhibition Jambo, Tanzania by Marian Osher. This show will continue through Sunday, May 25.
From April 30 – May 25, Washington Printmakers Gallery (WPG) member Marian Osher presents her exhibition Jambo, Tanzania at WPG. Osher and her husband Chuck went on a safari last summer to Tanzania, Africa. She was inspired by the wildlife and the conversation her art can bring to preserving wildlife.
The exhibition is a collection of 50 colorful monotypes of the Tanzanian wildlife. Eighteen of the prints shown in the gallery are mounted on painted canvas. By presenting the prints on the warm color canvas it gives the show a gentle tone. Osher paints and draws her images on plates by using different water soluble media. She then embossed areas of the prints to create more depth. Her work is very painterly, giving off the feel of a watercolor and colored pencil. By giving a soft delicate look, Osher is able to show the beauty of the outdoors.
“Herd of Wildebeests” | Copyright © 2014 by Marian Osher
As I view the show, my being is instantly transported into the print, imaging the sun beaming down my face, the cool air blowing. Osher illustrates a variety of animals in the their natural habitat. I am able to feel the freedom, strength and wisdom of these animals unlike the ones you find in the zoo. I was mainly drawn to the print Herd of Wildebeest (v.e. 1/5). It embodies the importance of family and community. Herd of Wildebeest illustrates the strength these animals have by traveling in numbers. Osher’s monotype is drawn very expressively and softly, giving it a feel of calmness. The show highlights the importance of preserving this beautiful world and its wildlife.
Jennifer Block, our intern from the University of Maryland, wrote the following reaction to our current exhibition, New Life by Nina Muys. This show will run through Sunday, March 30 at WPG.
“Lenten Rose” by Nina Muys
Nina Muys’ exhibition at the gallery is a breathtakingly beautiful collection of prints of various techniques. Her unique style is so soft and picturesque, that they seem as though they are pastel drawings rather than prints. When I first took a look around Nina’s exhibit, the overall feeling her work invokes is serene and calming. The exhibit lifted my mood immediately as I entered the gallery due to the bright palette and subject matter of various flowers and plant life. Muys uses her unique style and technique to create a very cohesive exhibit of work. Each piece sticks to a clear theme of nature and landscape and her technique is consistent throughout.
“Ain’t Gonna Fish No More” by Nina Muys
The monoprint titled Lenten Rose really caught my eye as soon as I began walking around the exhibit. The way that she separated the blossoms from the roots create a stronger visual effect for the print. It is interesting how different the styles are in the top and bottom, making the top very soft and the bottom dark and painterly. I also really enjoyed the two pieces Ain’t Gonna Fish No More in both daytime and nighttime versions. They have a completely different effect on the viewer just from the different coloring of the print.
Jennifer Block, our intern from the University of Maryland, wrote the following reaction to our current exhibition, Excellence in Printmaking 2014. This show celebrates the work of MFA and BFA students from across the United States.
In the current exhibit Excellence in Printmaking, there is a diversity of subject matter and technique that make it so interesting. As I was looking through the collection, I began to notice the dark undertone of the pieces and that many had a bit of mystery to them. The collection of prints investigates the mysteries and relationship between life and death, which was interpreted very differently by each artist.
“Embellishments” by Lauren Bolstridge
In Lauren Bolstridge’s “Embellishments,” for instance, the softness of the flowers and the deer face is juxtaposed with the deer skull and dying flowers underneath. She used the same drypoint technique to depict another darker subject in her print titled “Face to Face,” in which a woman’s delicate face and flowing hair is contrasted with the skull she holds in her hands. The print is also split in two pieces which enforces the juxtaposition between life and death.
“Where Did You Go?” by Kristine DeNinno
Another print that caught my eye was “Where Did You Go?” by Kristine DeNinno, which makes the viewer feel as though they are lost in a dreary forest. In this collograph print, the horizontals cutting through the composition grabbed my attention. It gave me a feeling of ominousness which I paralleled with the print by Devon Mozdierz, “Caught in the Webs of a Log,” which also had a haunting atmosphere. The claw-like diagonal lines that dissected the piece, as well as the bright center, really draw the attention of the viewer.
“Untitled” by Robert Darabos
I also read Robert Darabos’ untitled spiral pieces as a depiction of life and death, the blues representing nighttime or death and the yellow and orange concentric circles representing sunlight or life. They stood out from the rest due to their simplicity and bold palette in comparison to the other very technical and intricate prints.
WPG’s Excellence in Printmaking 2014 exhibition will continue through Sunday, February 23.
Elin Ryd, our intern from American University, wrote the following reaction to our current Lila Oliver Asher solo exhibition at WPG.
On November 1 as I arrived at the gallery I was greeted by the November membership show featuring the work of Lila Oliver Asher. The walls were filled with a vast number of prints all of them calling for my attention. I was immediately drawn to the left wall. The collection of prints that hung on this wall all referenced music, and depicted figures engaged in the process of producing music. I was specifically drawn to the middle print. Piano Concerto, that depicts a woman playing a piano. The same woman is printed three times within the image, one slightly overlapping the other. Each time it is printed the size and hand placement of the figure alters creating a sense of depth and movement. The intensity of the color further emphasizes these pictorial aspects, as the colors get progressively duller as they move back in space. Like in most of her prints, Asher is able to refine the lines of this print to the core features. By doing this she is able to maximize the effect of every line.
Another piece that caught my eye is located on the far right, adjacent to the piano piece. The linoleum and collage print Gemini depicts two central figures embracing each other. They are gracefully floating in a night sky, their bodies loosely connected with starts. The figures are highlighted with gold-shimmering ink that gives them an angelic and supernatural appearance. The dream like essence of the print is further emphasized though the relationship of the illuminated, grand figures and the dark landscape located just below.
Classical Mother by Lila Oliver Asher
Along with her prints, the exhibit features sculpture and glasswork. Asher also presents a video of her career as a printmaker. The video is located inside the vault room, played on a loop, allowing the audio to echo and surround the gallery. I was immediately drawn to the sound and as I enter the room I am welcomed again with captivating prints. Classical Mother
, a linoleum block print, is one of my favorites in this room. The steady and precise lines in this print reveal a mother embracing her child. Asher’s print shows an exceptional understanding of the figure. However she is not only able to beautifully depict the form of a woman, but the print conveys the passion and love between a mother and child.
Oliver Coley, our summer intern from Smith College, wrote the following reaction to our current 16th Annual National Small Works exhibition at WPG. You can read more perspectives from Oliver over the next few days.
Wellhole and the Rope by Arielle Coupe
As I glanced about the National Small Works show, my attention was immediately captured by a small black flip-book on a white pedestal beside a pair of white cloth gloves. The flip-book, named “Wellhole and the Rope” by Arielle Coupe consists of mezzotinted pages that look almost like they were drawn in chalk or white pencil against the black saturated background. As you turn the pages, the stone well and rope remain still, but the form that dips into the well begins to grow two white arrows that split and arch to either side. I have a soft spot for interactive art because I am always having to restrain myself from touching the work at galleries, especially three dimensional work. Furthermore, I never expected to see a flip book at a printmaking show, but the repetitive nature of the medium definitely lends itself to this sequential piece.
Behind Coupe’s flip book, “Clean Escape” by Ashton Ludden hangs on the lefthand side of the gallery. I came across this work when I was unpacking the prints for the National Small Works show, and I was immediately enamored by Ludden’s work. Meat has been a reoccurring subject in my own prints lately, so I am always curious about artists who are drawn to the same subject. Ludden’s so called Meatimals are designed to evoke a sense of cuteness and empathy, as well as to question the divide between the animals we allow to be pets and those we use for food. In this print, the little wrapped sausage Meatimals are piled onto the seat of an armchair, while some of them boost each other onto the arm of the chair. The surroundings and furniture in the room are flawlessly aquatinted, with lifelike creases in the vacuum bag, and highlights that perfectly capture the texture of the chair.
On the other side of the wall from Ludden’s Meatimals hangs Emmy Lingscheit’s “Stationary Breakaway.” This whimsical line etching features nine stationary bikes, beginning small and gestural in the distance and curving around towards the left side of the print. As the bikes become larger and more detailed, I very much enjoyed the variation in shading that allowed the bikes to be rendered in 3D without the use of aquatint. In just the first bike there’s stippling on the chain wheel, hatching on the attached pedals, and crosshatching fading out into small dispersed lines on the rounded back of the bike. In addition, the detail on the mechanics of each bike are absolutely fascinating. The entirety of the National Small Works show was a joy to look at, and I am very sad that this will be my final exhibition as an intern here at the Washington Printmakers Gallery. I have thoroughly enjoyed working here and hope to one day return, whether it’s to see another exhibition, or maybe even as a future member.
Oliver Coley, our summer intern from Smith College, wrote the following reaction to our July Membership Show. Over the last few days, Oliver has written about current WPG shows Distant Voices and Detritus, which close on Sunday, July 28.
Lucca Archway by Deron DeCesare
Walking into the July Membership Show, the first work to catch my eye was a glowing gold print by Deron DeCesare. The Lucca Archway is a pastel monotype with very illuminating gold elements. The plane of gold against the dark shadowy archway is a very captivating play of light, and calls out to you to linger and draw closer to the print. On a closer look, the people walking around the the print’s archway are dotted and streaked with white highlights cast off from the gold, fleshing out their jackets and giving life to their hair. The details of the building are also lit up with white streaks, accentuating the window sills against the dark shadows of the window panes. On the far right, a patch of royal blue and white emanates from the top window, and stands out starkly against the palette of the rest of the piece. I was pulled into this piece by the exceptional use of light, and the life-like detail of the plants and figures beyond the archway.
Over to the right, I was struck by the small yet expressive quality of Tavern Trio by Margaret Adams Parker. Parker’s expressive lines and textured crosshatching encapsulate the nuances of these three characters, highlighting their postures and demeanors, and opening a window into their every day life. This triptych of candid portraits is not overcrowded with detail or information, but the way her lines accentuate the way their hands hold their instruments and the slump of their shoulders makes for a very captivating print.
Yet another work from this show with very expressive lines was Gossip, by Vicky Vogl. The aquatinting in Gossip has a very painterly quality; the pale bright highlights against the mottled blue background emphasize the lumps of the creature, and spotlights the details in the horses face. The distorted anatomy of the figure, and the way the eyes point directly at the viewer, makes for a very chilling feeling, and gives the creature a mischievous or cruel energy. I was very intrigued by the background, the streaks and swirling cloudy areas place the two figures in a very emotive and engrossing environment. I have been very pleased with the variation of works in both the June and July Membership Shows, and cannot wait to see the next one.