Monday, June 19, 2017

Glen C. Alps: Printmaking Innovator

Back in the day, when this writer was studying printmaking at university (you all knew that by now, I am certain) there was this monster of a printing press in the print room. It was orange and it had a Huge wheel on it and a lovely large steel bed with which to make large and complicated prints. It was called the Alps press and it dominated the print room at Miami University.

Our print professor, Mr. Robert Wolfe, told us it was designed by a printmaking teacher at University of Washington, Glen C. Alps. We all put that press through its paces, trying to print all manner of materials and images and sizes of images on it. It was a beast, and it helped us produce terrific prints. It took a beating and kept on printing....
As for the history lessons Mr. Wolfe gave us, he included the work and process of Mr. Alps, and his contributions to 20th century printmaking. As one can see from the images included here, the man combined shape and color and with rich textures. The work included roosters and bird, but it equally included an exploration into textures and multiple plate printings. I will venture into Alps' process for this one article because it truly defines his work and his expertise as a teacher.

Glen Earl Alps (American 1914-1996) was a printmaker and educator who was born near Loveland, Colorado. He attended Colorado State College of Education (today the University of Northern Colorado) in Greeley, Colorado, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1940. After graduation he worked as an art instructor in the Greeley County school system until 1942, then he took a job in publishing at the Culver Aircraft Factory, in Wichita, Kansas.
In 1945, Alps attended the University of Washington in Seattle, where he was received a Master of Fine Arts in 1947. He also studied one summer with the noted printmaker Mauricio Lasansky at the University of Iowa. He began teaching in the Art Department of the University of Washington while he was still a graduate student there. In 1947 Walter F. Jacobs invited Alps to teach classes at the school. After graduation he continued to teach at the university. He received tenure in 1954 and became a full professor in 1962. He was named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement from teaching in 1984. A respected professor of art, Alps personally taught hundreds of students during his tenure at the University of Washington.

His early work was affiliated with the realism of American Regionalists Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, but by 1947 his subjects turned toward abstraction and wild color. His favorite motif was the circle in a square.
Alps is credited with having developed a collage-like technique, on which various textures are glued onto a flat surface. The plate may be inked as either an intaglio or relief, and then is printed onto paper. Collagraphic processes have been around since the 19th c., but the 20th c. development of collage as an art form led printmakers to explore the process more thoroughly. Alps began working in the technique at the University of Washington, which he shared with his students. He asserted that "...the first concern of the printmaker is the development of the plate, where the individuality of the artist has its chance to take form."
In 1960 Alps received a fellowship to the Tamarind Institute in New Mexico. In 1988 he was an artist-in-residence at Pilchuck Glass School.
Alps also designed and manufactured about thirty fine art printing presses. The Glen Alps Press was reputed to be durable, versatile and easy to operate.

An original Alps press. See, I told you it was a monster.

Public collections:
Art Institute of Chicago
Bibliothèque Nationale
Harvard University Art Museum
Library of Congress
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Loveland Museum of Art
Museum of Modern Art
Portland Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum
Yale University Art Gallery

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Printed Illuminations of Peter Baczek

Light and simple geometric shapes, flat planes of color, and clear, descriptive lines that clarify object from negative space. All of that aptly describes the work of Californian artist Peter Bacezk, but his work contains so much more than mere description.
Peter Baczek has been a fixture of the northern California art scene for many years. He has worked in Berkley, and now resides in Oakland where he operates a printshop/studio. Go find it. It will be worth your while for a visit to a contemporary master precisionist.
Baczek's subject is the urban setting, showing us the terrain of his neighborhood; where homes, small shops and factories coexist. The clear clean light of northern California is a strong speaking point of his prints. The sky is crisp with its clarity, and reminds us that pure light is transcendent, revealing as much what is before us as much as it is a spiritual component of what is mystical and unseen around us.
Baczek capably handles the description of places without human inhabitants, yet his compositions are not lonely places. There is a presence to the work that someone is around, but we have just missed them. Batheing the compositions in light gives us a warm, and cared for feeling, which is different than the descriptive, yet empty feeling of Edward Hopper's places, or the cool precision of Charles Sheeeler's nearly abstract industrial work.
Baczek is describing places that are compelling, which is a challenge for quiet and spare locations such as his. We want to walk around the buildings, knock on the door of the houses and see who's inside. There is a quiet in the air about them, too, which one often feels when visiting the American southwest. The light is so intense is can drain the energy out of you, but here the light is warm and friendly. His colors are restrained, but vibrant.
His mesmerizing subject matter of ordinary, everyday street corners and rooftops captures the viewer’s attention by the sheer simplicity of his compositions.This artist creates a spirituality through his simplicity, and a balance between the natural world and the one manmade. It is a delicate balance, but one Baczek handles with aplomb.
Baczek, b.1945-, joins the ranks of other American greats. He quiets our day with his subtly challenging compositions and brings us a sense of peace. Enjoy, my inked up friends and share his work among yourselves, and your friends.

Permanent Collections
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA
Edinboro University, Edinboro, PA
Graphic Chemical and Ink Company, Villa Park, IL
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Metropolitan Museum and Art Center, Coral Gables, FL
Oklahoma Art Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ
University of California, Davis, CA
University of North Dakota, Fargo, ND

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Edward Bawden and the British Working Class

Each of Edward Bawden's prints present two different types of compositions; one is of lofty open-aired spaces, and the other is a sort of down and dirty, in the trenches sort of place. We are a part of the nameless, and often faceless, working classes who toil each day to bring us our goods at the market, and swimmingly maneuver through the chaos of urban settings, transporting goods and livestock to market.
Bawden presents these dual compositions effortlessly. We are always looking up at the architectural grandeur of the spaces he presents, and then secondarily notice the lower(smaller) group of people walking with carts through a maze of crowded streets, or quietly, mindfully stocking their booths for the daily markets in anticipation of a good day's sales.
These colorful prints are full of lightness and optimism, maybe in the mindset that hard work will produce good business and lots of $$$. The neatness of his lines and overlapping characters is busy, yet never chaotic. These are well thought out compositions and one can easily imagine the sounds and smells that his scenes would produce. His work honors the working class' contributuions to a well-run society in a positive and methodic manner.

Edward Bawden, CBE RA (1903–1989) was an English artist known for his paintings, illustrations, graphic prints, book covers, posters, and garden metalwork furniture.
He taught at the Royal College of Art, where he had been a student, worked as a commercial artist and served as a war artist in World War II. He was a fine watercolor painter but worked in many different media. He illustrated several books and painted murals in both the 1930s and 1960s.

Bawden was born at Braintree, in Essex. He was an only child, and spent much of his time drawing or wandering the countryside with his butterfly-net and microscope. He studied at Braintree High School, and began copying drawings of cats and illustrations from boys' and girls' magazines. Later he attended the Friends' School at Saffron Walden, and there, he was recommended to study at the Cambridge School of Art, which he attended from 1919 to 1921.

He became interested in calligraphy and in the work of Aubrey Beardsley, Richard Doyle, William Morris and other artists of the day. In 1922 he received a scholarship to the Royal College of Art School of Design in London, where he earned a diploma in illustration.

By 1930 Bawden started working for Curwen Press, producing illustrations for clients such as London Transport, Westminster Bank, Twinings, Poole Potteries, Shell-Mex, the Folio Society, Chatto & Windus, and Penguin Books. In the early 1930s he was discovered by the Stuart Advertising Agency. Around this time Bawden produced some of his most humorous and innovative work for Fortnum & Mason and Imperial Airways. He also worked for The Listener.

Most of his subjects were of scenes around Great Bardfield. In 1938 he collaborated with John Aldridge on a range of wallpapers that they intended to be printed commercially. The project left little time for other work during the year, and war intervened before the wallpapers could go into production.
During World War II, Bawden served as an official war artist, first with the British army in France and then in the Middle East. He was posted to North Africa as a War Office Artist. He painted landscapes and portraits in Libya, Sudan, Cairo, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Palestine and Lebanon.

After making a series of studies of the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq, he was recalled to London. After the ship he took sank, he was held prisoner in a Vichy internment camp in Casablanca for two months before the camp was liberated by American troops. When he eventually returned to Britain, Bawden did portrait work. He returned to the Middle east in September 1943, as a Ministry of Information artist to work in Baghdad and Kurdistan, before he joined the Middle East Anti-Locust Unit; where he traveled to southern Iraq and Iran.

Bawden returned to England in 1944 for a short time before traveling to Yugoslavia, by way of Rome. He went to Ravenna, then Greece, Austria and Florence before travelling back to England in July 1945. Helived in Great Bardfield, Essex from the 1930s to 1970. While living at Bardfield he was an important member of the Great Bardfield Artists; a group who shared a love for figurative art. He continued with his illustrations, completed a series of eleven murals for the First Class lounge of the P&O liner Oronsay and participated in a series of traveling exhibits. From 1970 to1989, Bawden moved to Saffron Walden, where he continued to work until his death.

Public Collections:
Fry Art Gallery
The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford
London Underground commission
Morley College mural
Mural for Queen's University, Belfast

Goldsmiths, University of London
Royal College of Art
Royal Academy Schools
Senior Lecturer at Leicester College of Art and Design

1946 – Awarded CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire)
1947 – Associate of the Royal Academy
1949 – Royal Designer for Industry (RSA)
1949/50 – Guest instructor at the Banff School of Fine Art, Canada
1951 – Trustee of the Tate Gallery
1956 – Elected Royal Academician
1962 – Honorary Associate of Manchester College of Art
1963 – Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art
1964 – Silver Medal from the Society of Industrial Artists
1970 – Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art
1974 – Honorary Doctorate from the University of Essex
1979 – Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sir Lionel Lindsay: Australia's Audubon

The prints of Sir Lionel Arthur Lindsay (1874 –1961) enrapture the eye and make us envy this lively and animated lines. The beauty of his black and white prints reflect the interest of the era of Australian printmakers who loved the elegant and velvety black of their inked up prints.

Lindsay was a highly regarded Australian artist and illustrator, known for his prints of natural world subjects. Some would call him the Audubon of Australia, but in truth, his skills and love of all subjects allowed him to exhibit a variety of imagery far beyond the descriptiveness of Audubon. His work was more about real life and the things one sees every day; although we who do not live in Australia would be hard-pressed to envision kangaroos and emus roaming about as being a normal part of our lives.

He was born in Creswick, into a family of artists – Norman, Daryl, Ruby and Percy. The Lindsay family, originally from Ayrshire, Scotland, had settled in Tyrone in the late seventeenth century and prospered in the linen trade. Their early interest in art was encouraged by their maternal grandfather who took them on regular visits to the Ballarat Fine Arts Public Gallery.

Lionel was the third son and he taught himself to draw by copying illustrations from Punch and other periodicals found at home.

Lindsay taught himself printmaking in the 1890s. He settled in Sydney as a freelance artist and journalist. Shortly afterwards Lionel became staff artist on the Hawklet. Its front page was devoted to drawings covering the crimes, accidents, suicides and social highlights of the preceding week. For copy Lionel frequented Melbourne's theatres and ringsides, the morgue and the racing track. He studied at the National Gallery School, in Melbourne.

In 1907 he held an extremely successful exhibition of etchings in Sydney with the Society of Artists. In 1921, when the Australian Painter-Etchers' Society was formed, Lindsay was its first president.

Key themes in Lindsay’s work include the Outback, old Sydney, portraits, romantic views of Spain and Arab culture, and a very successful series of classically inspired still-lifes, birds and animals. It is mainly the animals I chose for this article as I find them charmingly direct and somewhat mischievous. His robust line defines form and makes them structurally sound. The horse and the goat are real charmers, and who cannot appreciate the way he draws his furry black cats.

His still-lifes are quite wonderful, well-defined in their volume and texture and light quality. They throw homage to the great still life artists like Chardin and Caravaggio.

Lindsay became a Trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and was knighted for his services to Australian art in 1941. In 1942 he published Addled Art, an anti-semitic attack on modernism in art.

He died in Melbourne. His autobiography, Comedy of Life, was published posthumously.

The Lionel Lindsay Art Gallery and Library, in Toowoomba, Queensland, holds rare books, manuscripts and maps, and over 400 art works.

Portrait of Sir Lionel Lindsay...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Rudy Pozzatti: Indiana's Printmaking Icon

The work of Rudy Pozzatti is well-known and loved. The man has been a legend in the print environs of the United States and beyond, but he has been revered in the state of Indiana, and the great town of Bloomington, Indiana; where he built a terrific print program at Indiana University, trained thousands of printmakers and teachers of the medium we all know and love.
I had occasion to work with Pozzatti one summer during my graduate internship at Indiana University's print shop. The late, great, Pegram Harrison was coordinator of the shop and it was a great training ground for printmakers, where they could gain practical experience working in the medium and have a chance to work with visiting artists. I had occasion to work on prints for Steven Sorman and David Shapiro at that time. I remember everyday Pozzatti would come in after having done his workout and before he would meet his good friend, IU's famed basketball coach, Bobby Knight for lunch. Pozzatti loved to tell stories and loved the interaction with the visiting artists. It was a great privilege to meet and work with him.

I was struck by several things about Pozzatti. His faith was visible in his life and his work. His love of making prints,his love for his family, and always challenging himself as an artist remain lasting impressions. He came into the room like a dynamo - always with a big smile and handshake. It would be hard not to be impressed by the man, but his artistic career was equally impressive.
Pozzatti's work has been shown and collected worldwide. He came from Colorado, and received his BFA and MFA degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He taught at University of Nebraska and Indiana University, earning a Distinguished Professor of Art from the latter.

Pozzatti was fascinated with faith and the artistic expressions one can find in a place of faith - church. His studied domes of cathedrals and the stained glass windows of churches he visited. His drawing skills were accomplished, and his want to explore the print medium inspired countless others to do the same. There is little the man has not achieved in his lengthy career, but what transcends in his wrk is a searching for truth and an unquenchable thirst to keep making his art. We all should be so fortunate.

Ford Foundation, Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles, CA
Ford Grant, Adachi Institute, Tokyo, Japan
Fulbright Grant, Italy
Guggenheim Fellowship, Creative Printmaking, Italy
N.E.A. Grant, Univ. of Missouri
U.S. State Department, Cultural Exchange to Soviet Union
U.S. State Department, Cultural Exchange visit to Yugoslavia
S.T.A.G., United States Information Agency, Washington, D.C.
Represented U.S. in International Cultural Exchange in Budapest, Hungary

Public Collections
Albertina Museum, London, England
Bibliotheque Nazionale, Paris, France
City Museum of Karlsruhe, Germany
Malmo Museum, Malmo, Sweden
Museum of Art, Sydney, Australia
Museum of Art, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
Pushkin Museum, Moscow, USSR
Toronto Museum of Art, Toronto, Canada
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, IN
Federico Castellon Memorial Collection, Columbia Univ. ,NY
Fine Arts Museum, Univ. of W. Virginia, Morgantown, WV
Fogg Art Museum, Boston, MA
High Museum, Atlanta, GA
Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu, HI
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Iowa State Art Museum, Ames, IA
J.B. Speed Museum, Louisville, KY
Kalamazoo Institute of Art, Kalamazoo, MI
Library of Congress, DC
Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, CA
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Gallery, Washington, DC
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, PA
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, NM
Sheldon Memorial Art Museum, Lincoln, NE
Sheldon Swope Museum of Art, Terre Haute, IN
University of Louisville Print Collection, Louisville, KY
U.S. Offices and Embassies
Yale University Art Museum, New Haven, CT