By Marina La Palma
ENTERTAINING THE WIDEST POSSIBLE DEFINITION OF PRINTMAKING, IN COLOR SHOWS the results of such varied practices as solar prints, monotypes, woodblocks, and drypoint, along with collage. Curated by master printer Marina Ancona, this is a group exhibition of collaborations with Ancona at 10 Grand Press. An independent publishing press based in Brooklyn and Santa Fe, 10 Grand is dedicated to collaborating with artists through hands-on experimentation. The exhibition includes more than twenty-five artists; sometimes several pieces by one artist are dispersed throughout the galleries. I would have preferred to see each artist’s works displayed together, as I found myself going back to a previous work upon encountering another piece by the same artist. Still, it made me look more deeply. The work is consistently original and stimulating. Fundamental tropes of visual art make their appearance. For example, the human figure is suggested in indirect ways or via incompleteness—what in structuralism would be called synechdoche, the part standing for the whole. Carol Mothner’s Armoured Women III features vestments without a human inhabitant; a dress and wing-like shawl are rendered in a chain mail texture that complicates their apparent delicacy. Can something be both ephemeral and armored? Kathleen McCloud’s lifesize Honey Suit, a free hanging monotype on mulberry paper, also gives us the clothes without the person. In Noel Harvey’s elegant solar plate monotype, Sage Lungs with Crimson Vertebrae, two crucial elements of the human body are evoked, with color and its absence lending drama to the composition. One of Elizabeth Newman’s Untitled pieces places two ovals vertically, its diagrammatic look suggesting something mystic or interplanetary, a feeling enhanced by a muted blue and yellow color scheme. Faces peer from several pieces, including Reed Anderson’s Untitled, a cartoon universe monotype in which a face spits out another face-like shape. Nicole Eisenman’s untitled woodblock edition gives us the pink-on-black outline of a face sporting a giant tear from one eye, while Angela Dufresne portrays an expressionistic female face under an umbrella in Hanna Schygulla Inhale. The surface of Kathleen Morris’s Aura is a swirly, scratchy ambiguous space with a female bust whose eyes are effaced by a gray painterly blur. Marina Ancona’s monotype cityscape of peaked roofs, pairing a hot orange with gray wood grain texture, is among works that reference some kind of landscape or spatial dimension. Lou Hicks presents a dark mysterious Sky. Carrie Moyer’s Untitled, with textured washes of green, yellow, and pale brown, configures a pleasing landscape of textured hills. Sigrid Sandstr.m’s Untitled evinces a powerful geometric depth, again by use of contrasting color, its blunt central form bordered by white space. Some works revel in their own materiality. Kay Harvey’s series of construction prints gives evidence of a confident sense of color; her three-dimensional surfaces include bubble wrap, netting, and other applied materials in low relief, matching, in a contained way, the dynamic energy of a Judy Pfaff or Frank Stella composition. In Emilio Lobato’s mysteriously titled 1959, a monotype with Chine Colle or applied paper, a stark black globe and line stand out against crimson, ochre, and burnt sienna surfaces. Some pieces seem more focused on interior space, such as the mandala mosaic composed of tiny overlapping popsicle sticks by Doug Morris. This, like most of the works, is untitled. Perhaps the preponderance of untitled works is partly why I find it difficult to talk about them. There is something about making an image that is to be transferred to another surface—and likely not be a single object but multiples with micro-variations— that positions printmaking differently from painting, giving it permission to be less “about” something and more of a pure visual statement. Prints are also a wonderful and affordable way for the aspiring collector or anyone who loves beautiful images to be surrounded by art. This show is sheer joy for the eyes, illustrating how varied the approaches to and results of printmaking can be—from bold graphic statements to subtle, multi-layered compositions.