Tag Archives: January Invitational

Sneak Peek: December and January Exhibitions

Below is a slideshow of work by Martha Oatway, Tracy Hill, and the New York Society of Etchers.  Martha and Tracy’s show, Field of Vision, opens next week.  This exhibition pushes past the usual print-on-paper-in-frame to include large, free-floating prints by Tracy that hang down into the gallery from the ceiling, prints on plexi by Martha, and a sound installation in the Press Room.  The opening reception is Saturday, December 3, 1-4 pm.  We’re especially delighted to have Tracy joining us all the way from Preston, England!

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The last few images of the above slide show are be several members of the New York Society of Etchers, who are WPG’s January Invitational artists.  NYSE was formed in 1998, in the spirit of a preceding group known as the New York Etchers Club (founded in 1877). Today’s New York Society of Etchers focuses on providing exhibition opportunities to intaglio printmaking specialists in New York City, and is internationally recognized as an artist-run print organization with dozens of major exhibitions. Currently, there are close to 300 New York printmakers associated with the society (ten of which will be exhibiting here).  The opening for this exhibition is Saturday, January 7 1-4 pm.

Post-Snow Update

Marcus Aurelius III, Wood Engraving by Simon Brett, on view through tomorrow!

We’re back and fully functioning!  A sincere apology to all who tried to get in contact with us–it’s been quite a week!  First, our website host company was migrating data, which meant our email/website were intermittently effected.  Second, the winter storm knocked out power in the area.  While the gallery’s power was restored quickly, the power to Comcast’s main transmission site for Montgomery County was not–meaning we were without phone or internet for a few days.

But now our sidewalks are clear and the gallery is open–and just in time, too.  If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss Bewick’s Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers. We have sold a staggering 32 prints from this show as well as some of the beautiful wood engraving books we have on view exclusively in the gallery.  We are open until 5 pm today and 12-5 tomorrow, so hurry in!

"The Pearl Necklace," wood engraving by Harry Brockway

Starting Wednesday, our first ever Excellence in Printmaking exhibition will be up.  Originally, this was an award given to an area MFA/BFA candidate for their commitment to printmaking.  This year, Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints at the Library of Congress, juried prints from MFA/BFA candidates in the mid-Atlantic region, selecting 40 to be included in this exhibition.  There are some talented students out there!  And as I mentioned in my post on UMD’s “Impressed” exhibition, it is a great opportunity to buy a print by a future big-time artist.  Get them while they’re young and affordable!  The opening reception and awards ceremony for this show is Saturday, February 5, 1-4 pm.  Below are a few prints to whet your appetite:

"Rough" by Fawna Xiao, screenprint and ink drawing, 12x22 in, 2009

"Never Again, Rodney, Never" by Eric Owusu, Intaglio,11x14, 2009.

"So Bad" by Tonja Torgerson, serigraph, 22x20 in, 2009.

Four shows to check out this weekend

The Kreeger Museum’s exhibition “In Unison, 20 Washington, DC Artists” features monoprints by, you guessed it, 20 Washington, DC artists.  This exhibition is the result of efforts by Sam Gilliam, a DC artist who has been associated with the Washington Color School since the 1960’s.  Gilliam invited these 20 artists from diverse artistic backgrounds to make five monoprints each.  Gilliam and a small board then selected one print from each artist to make the final exhibition.  We haven’t been to see this show yet, but it promises to be a good one!  The Kreeger Museum is open on Saturday, 10-4 pm, $10 admission, no reservations needed. Reservations are needed Tuesday-Friday.  Click on the link above for more information about this show and directions.  Exhibition runs through February 26th.

"Love, Respect, Protect" by Marian Osher, not in her current "Art Matters" Exhibition, but a great print nonetheless!

This weekend WPG member artist Marian Osher will host a reception and artist talk for her exhibition “Art Matters” at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville (100 Welsh Park Drive, Rockville, MD 20850).  This exhibition features paintings and prints “created over a 10 year period to combat fear, promote connection and mindfulness, and raise awareness of the importance of living in harmony with the environment.”  Read Topher Forhecz review in the Gazette, then attend her reception this Sunday, January 23, 11:30-1:00, exhibition runs through February 6.

"From Siem Rep" by Jenny Freestone

WPG artist Jenny Freestone also has a solo exhibition up in the Monroe Gallery of the Arts Club of Washington (2017 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006).  This gallery is closed Sunday and Monday, so try and make it over during their Saturday hours, 10-2 pm.  Exhibition runs through January 29.

Finally, if you haven’t seen WPG’s current exhibition, “Bewick’s Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers,” you should!  The exhibition was favorably reviewed this week by Claudia Rousseau for the Gazette.  It has also been well received by the public, with 12 of the prints selling already, several of those multiple times over (oh, the joy of editions–if your favorite print has sold, we may be able to get another for you!).  This exhibition closes next weekend (Sunday, January 30) so get in here before it’s too late!

Collecting Art

"Tynemouth Priory" by Hilary Paynter, this could be a great starting print for an art collection!

I wanted to write a little bit about collecting art, since we have a limited offering of some very well known and talented printmakers in our current show, Bewick’s Legacy.  These are personal thoughts from a gallery director to be taken as such, I do not profess to be an investment specialist or predictor of future trends in the art market!

Starting an art collection is a beneficial experience for so many reasons–it is a wonderful way to support the fine arts, many people collect as part of their investment strategy, and of course, you increase the aesthetics of your home or office!  Also, starting an art collection can be done by anyone on any budget and at any age!  Prints, of course, are a great way to start an art collection because you can buy beautiful, original artwork for much less than many similarly sized paintings or sculpture.

When starting an art collection, the number one most important thing to do is buy art you like!  DON’T buy work because it is by a big-shot artist, DON’T buy work to impress other people, and DON’T buy work because you think you’ll be able to sell it in a year or two for more.  You want to buy pieces that you can live with and enjoy.  If visitors to your home or office compliment the work or the work happens to appreciate in value, then that should just be an added bonus.

That being said, there are some things to look for when you are starting or adding to your collection.  The work should be of high technical quality (unless of course shotty construction is part of the concept of the piece, but that’s a whole different conversation!)  Make sure that canvasses have squared corners and don’t raise unevenly off the wall.  Works on paper should be clean of finger prints, errant ink blots, etc.  If you are buying framed pieces, the frame corners should be square and the mats clean, as well.

Also, see if the artist and artwork matches your collection ideology.  If you are collecting artwork simply because it is pretty, then go right ahead and buy it, no extra thought needed!  However, if you are trying to create a more specific collection (say, contemporary female artists, regional printmakers, or artworks with roots in Cubism), then you need to do a little more research.  This can be as easy as asking the gallery assistant or looking on the artist’s website for an artist statement and resume. When you do buy a work, ask for the CV (resume) 0f that artist and keep it in a file with your receipt, so you have documentation to back up your art collection.

In closing, I invite you to take a moment and think about what kind of art YOU like, what kind of space you have on your walls, and what you might want to do with that upcoming tax refund check.  Who knows, in 10 years you could become the premier private collector of artist depictions of Florence (a beautiful subject artists of many media seem to be drawn to), or maybe the National Gallery of Art will want your collection of contemporary botanical prints.  The opportunities only multiply with your first purchase of artwork!

Rosemary Feit Covey

Rosemary Feit Covey is giving an artist talk/wood engraving demo today at 1 pm.  Read a little more about her before coming in to see her talk:

Rosemary Feit Covey is an American Wood Engraver (born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but now working out of the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA) who has prints in the collections of the National Museum of American History (Washington, DC), Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), Papyrus Institute (Cairo, Egypt), and the National Library of Scotland (Endinburgh, Scotland), to name a few off of an impressive list.  In addition, she has had works commissioned by The New York Times Book Review, National Institute of Science, and Georgetown University, among others, and is included in Simon Brett’s “An Engraver’s Globe: Wood Engravings World-wide in the Twenty-First Century.” (also for sale at the gallery now)

Gallery shot of "David" and "Astrocytes." (David with Astrocytes not pictured)

Rosemary’s challenging work often deals with the body, death and disease.  For example, “Astrocytes” is derived from images of cells by the same name which are found in the brain and spinal column which perform a variety of functions.  Layered over her print David to become David with Astrocytes, the viewer begins to wonder about his particular brain function.  What is he thinking?  Are his cells healthy?  Are those cells firing as he looks out upon us?

WPG also has some of Ms. Covey’s “Vanitas, Vanitas” prints in the gallery this month, including Nkonde Print (not pictured) .”Vanitas” artworks developed in Dutch paintings during the 17th century as still lifes  created to remind the viewer of the fleeting quality of life.  In Nkonde, a beautiful young woman dances with Death.  The symbolism is stong here–the skeleton, clearly, is Death itself, the flies represent death, even the embroidery on the woman’s skirt is derived from images of disease-causing bacteria.  The young woman seems to be pulling away, begging the question, will she be Death’s next victim or is she able to elude him for a while longer?

Introduction to Sue Scullard

To round out our week of introductions to the three British Wood Engravers that didn’t get coverage in December, here is an introduction to Sue Scullard, our final artist in Bewick’s Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers. Read on, then come see her work in person at our opening today, 1-4 pm!

"Swallow Falls" by Sue Scullard

Sue Scullard is a versatile illustrator in several media. She has designed for Royal Worcester porcelain, and made greetings card designs and full-colour children’s books: The Flyaway Pantaloons tells its wordless story through dazzlingly detailed and ever more vertiginous views of a fictional Renaissance city; The Great Round the World Balloon Race (1990) and a pop-up version of The Nutcracker (2003) are other examples; but wood engraving is her major and most serious pursuit. Her output is equally divided between prints made for their own sake and the use of engraving in books; but the close observation and beautiful design of her self-generated printmaking comes first, feeding and inspiring her illustration.

The prints in the exhibition are from two Folio Society books, The Lives of the Later Caesars and Lark Rise to Candleford. For the Caesars, Sue drew on Roman portrait busts, statues and bas-reliefs. In the engraving of Trajan, she got carried away, she says, fitting almost 30 soldiers into the background. She is indeed a miniaturist but never loses sight of the large design; and while she says she was very aware of the example of Joan Hassall (1906-1988) when working on Lark Rise, her approach is quite different to Hassall’s chiaroscuro engraving into the dark. Scullard’s world is filled with light and she manages light and space and form while always maintaining a beautiful pattern on the surface too.  Her ‘position within wood engraving’ is exactly that: she sustains the vernacular, rural, ‘pretty’ image that can be the curse of the medium as well as its attraction but she does it with such visual integrity as to make it strong and vital and ongoing. Swallow Falls she says, was engraved ‘entirely for pleasure’.

Sue studied illustration at Camberwell School of Art, London 1977-80 and graphic design at the Royal College of Art 1980-1983, where she learned wood engraving from Yvonne Skargon (1931-2010). Pupil and tutor became lifelong friends. Sue regularly made the complicated trip from Kent where she lives with her husband and son, to Suffolk, to continue their conversations about wood engraving and gardening.

Introduction to Peter Lawrence

The following is an excerpt from the show catalog for Bewick’s Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers:

"St Ives" by Peter Lawrence, on view in WPG's 2011 January Invitational

Peter Lawrence is the current chairman of the Society of Wood Engravers and his business experience has made him a very successful one.  Since 1998 he has been Managing Director of Oxford Designers & Illustrators, having worked as an educational book designer since 1978. His inspirations, from the time he was studying Graphic Design at Bristol, have been Pop Art and jazz. Pop, with its use of collage, suggests links back to Cubism (and collage) and the particularly British branch of modernism known as the St. Ives School.  A common factor is the manipulation of abstract geometric shapes on a flat surface, sometimes with collaged items or passages of painterly handling but mostly with the world alluded to rather than directly depicted. Pete’s prints may contain dozens of small images of different kinds, diverse handlings, textural areas; each is a little exhibition in itself, if not a gallery.

He began engraving in 1990 and keeps it as an area of personal pleasure and exploration, nothing to do with the day job.  Often based on places he has been on holiday, maps and spatial memories provide a template into which other impressions can be fitted. His prints to date are all one-offs, but there are two strands represented within this exhibition.

Gallery shot of "Time and Space" and "Way Out West" by Peter Lawrence

Montpelier, Time and Space and Four Quartets are abstract – products of the imagination with no reference to anything that has existed before. Montpelier consists of two blocks, and was originally put together differently. Time and Space is four blocks cut and printed five times. Four Quartets is one block, cut further after each printing.

Transform, St. Ives, Way Out West and Five for England are designed to work as abstracts overall but use the idea of collage, with engravings in different styles embedded into the whole, again using more than one block.

The Gallery, Level 2: Abstraction may look like the first group but actually belongs to the second. The lift door suggests scale; five ‘pictures’ hang on the wall of the gallery within a mural design. And this, Pete’s ‘single’ image within the format of this exhibition, will be in fact the first of a series, with further ‘levels’ to come.

“Bewick’s Legacy” Show Images!

56 prints from the UK means the whole back wall of the gallery (plus more!) has been fully utilized.

Happy New Year everyone–we’re so excited to be back with our January Invitational– Bewick’s Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers.  The hanging committee has done a beautiful job installing this show!  These works were shipped unframed and unmatted from the UK, and WPG member artists pitched in to prepare them for exhibition.  The protective mylar coating does make some of the prints a little hard to see in these images (the natural warp of the material makes light glare next to impossible to avoid), so come in for yourself to get the full effect!

Close-up of two prints by Peter Lawrence

This exhibition will be up through January 30.   The opening reception is Saturday, January 8, 1-4 pm (this Saturday!)

Also on view in the Gallarette are 10 prints by Rosemary Feit Covey, the American wood engraver who will be performing a demo on the technique on Saturday, January 15, 1-4 pm.  If you

Installation view of 4 works by Rosemary Feit Covey

are interested in wood engravings (0r printmaking in general!)  come and see the tools of the trade and learn more about the process.

For further information on this exhibition, check out our other blog posts on Simon Brett, Harry Brockway, and Neil Bousfield (posts on Peter Lawrence, Hilary Paynter, and Sue Scullard will be posted soon!) as well as Printmaking 101:  Wood Engraving vs. Woodcut. See you at the gallery!

Close-up of prints by Harry Brockway

So many prints they won't all fit in the frame!

Even more prints!

Introduction to Harry Brockway

The following is from the Bewick’s Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers exhibition catalog.  Read on to learn more about Harry Brockway.  Other posts are already up about Simon Brett and Neil Bousfield, introductions to the other three participating artists coming soon!

"The Pearl Necklace," wood engraving by Harry Brockway

Harry Brockway studied sculpture and wood engraving at the Royal Academy Schools in London (1981-84) and has worked as a stone carver – sculptor, lettercutter and architectural mason – and wood engraver since 1984. The two disciplines compliment each other well. Literary ideas for illustrations often find their way into his sculpture and sculptural forms are what he favours in his engraving. His first major book illustrations, while still a student, were for The Reader’s Digest Illustrated Bible, divided between him, his tutor, Sarah van Niekerk and me. In The Lad Philisides, a selection of Sir Philip Sidney’s verse (Old Stile Press 1988) he established a sturdy lyricism that has grown only more robustly sculptural with increased experience of the stone carver’s decisiveness. For the Folio Society, he has illustrated Dostoyevsky (twice), Mark Twain (twice), Mary Shelley and Yeats, among others.  He has worked for Penguin (A House Unlocked), the Gregynog Press and Harvill (The Man Who Planted Trees, The Company of Swans).  Timelines for Hereford Museum and the Reading Museum of English Rural Life have combined the graphic and achitectural space.

The series of engravings shown are images from Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner, Christabel and Kubla Khan, all from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Three Other Poems (Folio Society 2010) where they are reproduced with added colour and with gold.  The 24 large engravings were designed, cut, printed and coloured within six months.

The Pearl Necklace is a portrait of Harry’s younger daughter Elsie (‘She sits still better than the other one’). It is a virtuoso demonstration of one of the things that wood engraving can be. Each shape is made by the clustering of marks within an accurately conceived but unstated boundary. There is no engraved white outline anywhere. There is none in black, either, except perhaps where shadow naturally gathers to a near-linear edge, and explicitly on the pearls. Nothing is allowed to be brighter than the pearls. The shape of the head, including the individual stray hairs, is created solely by the white lines of the background, which stop not only at exactly the right point but also at the right angle. The power of the image and the working of the surface of the block are perfectly meshed.

Introduction to Neil Bousfield

The following is from the catalog written by Simon Brett in conjunction with our January Invitational, “Bewick’s Legacy: Six Contemporary British Wood Engravers.” Read on to learn more about one of the participating artists, Neil Bousfield.

"Alfred Brown" wood engraving by Neil Bousfield

For his first graphic art degree in 1990, Neil Bousfield specialised in animation. He worked in that field, in the games industry, and in craftwork in wood and wood-turning and taught these subjects to the socially excluded, for 10 years, while also gaining an Msc in Graphical Computing Technologies. By the time he began an MA in Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking at the University of the West of England, in Bristol, in 2003, therefore, he had experience of visual narrative and of hands-on making, a deep and growing interest in the woodcut and wood engraving of the 1930s and 40s, especially the ‘novels in woodcuts’ of that time, and an experienced sympathy with the poor and the underprivileged.  For his finals, he produced The Cycle, a novel told in 188 images, measuring about 6 x 4 ¾” each, which he engraved on vinyl mounted to type-high, at the rate (as the deadline approached) of one a day. It concerns the cycle of deprivation and exclusion which families can get stuck in, one generation after another.  He produced 12 hand-printed copies of the book.  It is now available in a commercial edition as Walking Shadows: A Novel Without Words (Manic D Press, California).

The prints exhibited [in the “Bewick’s Legacy” exhibition] are from his new work Alfred Brown: A Life in Pictures (the working title) which is being engraved on plastic blocks about 9 ½ x 6”. It follows its protagonist from the age of 7 in the late 1940s to his death around the present day.  It is all story-boarded out but not drawn up in pages yet. There will be between 1 and 4 images (usually 2) on each block, allowing variety of pace.  Neil expects to engrave around 400 blocks with 750 images on them. He does not know how long it will take.  He has to try to make a living meanwhile. Amazingly, he finds time to make other prints as well.

Alfred Brown explores the wider ideas of values and what we consider to be a useful and productive life. It is an attempt to understand what we are all doing, running around. There are no answers provided, just description.  Neil himself, having ‘run around’ the whole gamut of modern technologies, has realised that a passionate concern with narrative lies at the heart of what he wants to do and that the engraver’s marks are the best means of doing it.