Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Imaginary World of Oleg Denysenko

The work of Ukrainian artist Oleg Denysenko mesmerizes the viewer and transports us to a place filled with knights and kings, whirlybirds and half-man half-machines. The whimsy of his work is fascinating, and his portraits harken back to a time of the great noble classes of the 19th c. In all, his work boggles our collective minds with his compositional prowess and expert line work.

Where do these images come from? Denysenko seems to have an endless supply with which to draw from.

Denysenko was born in 1961, in the Ukraine, and the artist currently lives and works in Lviv.

He graduated from the Ukrainian Academy of Printing, specializing in Graphics(Printmaking).
He is internationally recognized for his prints, paintings, sculptures, and artist’s books, and he has received several awards for his work throughout Europe and the United States.

He has participated in numerous International Exhibitions and Symposiums in Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Macedonia, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, USA, and Yugoslavia.

He is a member of Ukrainian Artist’s Union, and a member of the Academician Senate of International Academy of Modern Art, in Rome, Italy.

Some of Denysenko's images remind me of holiday Kris Kringle and then other remind me of a medieval knight, or an icon, or still yet the Man from La Mancha and Salvador Dali. The sparkling look of his work bounces our eyes across the print looking for the most minute details. As with other Eastern European artists, the detailing is everything. Denysenko does not disappoint. Get out your magnifying lenses, for there is much to find in this man's work.

If you would like to contact the artist, you can email him at:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Time to Give the Turkey Thanks!

Greetings, my fellow printmakers..... The time is upon us to celebrate some down time from inking ourselves up, pack up the pets and the kids, and head over to Grandma's house for some holiday fixin's. :) Artistically speaking, the holiday is never complete without a print or two, so i rounded up a few special items for your viewing pleasure. I also decided to give you a bit of information about the Thanksgiving story and how it evolved into a national holiday. Enjoy your family time, and if you cannot be with family, then hang out with your friends, or volunteer at a food pantry or shelter to help feed those less fortunate. Blessings to you all.

Thanksgiving Day was originally celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest. Prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions after harvests. In Canada, it is celebrated on the second Monday of October, and in the United States it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Several cultures around the world observe similar celebrations.

The Thanksgiving holiday's history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. Thanksgiving and special religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and in reaction to the large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. The holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special providence. Special blessings, viewed as coming from God, called for Days of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving days were also called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705.

The first Canadian Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1578 and the explorer Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. He held his celebration in thanks for surviving the long perilous journey from England. On his third and final voyage to the far north, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Frobisher Bay in Baffin Island (present-day Nunavut) to give thanks to God. The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are also traced to the French settlers who came to New France with explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century, who celebrated their successful harvests, sharing food with the indigenous peoples.

As settlers arrived in Canada from New England, late autumn Thanksgiving celebrations became commonplace. New immigrants into the country—such as the Irish, Scottish, and Germans—also added their own traditions to the harvest celebrations. Most of the US aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey), were incorporated when United Empire Loyalists began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada.

In the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday tradition is traced to a 1621 celebration at Plymouth in Massachusetts. Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried with them the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving. According to some historians the Pilgrims may have been influenced by watching the annual services of Thanksgiving for the relief of the siege of Leiden in 1574. Leiden's autumn thanksgiving celebration in 1617 helped accelerate the pilgrims' plans to leave Europe. In America, religious thanksgiving services were declared by civil leaders. The practice of holding an annual harvest festival did not become a regular event in until the late 1660s.

During the American revolutionary period, political influences affected the issuance of Thanksgiving proclamations. As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God". In modern times the President of the United States, in addition to issuing a proclamation, will "pardon" a turkey, which spares the bird's life and ensures that it will spend the duration of its life roaming freely on farmland.

Earlier American religious Thanksgiving services were held by Spanish explorers in Texas at San Elizario in 1598, as well as thanksgiving feasts in the Virginia Colony. Some argue that the earliest Thanksgiving service in the United States was celebrated by the Spanish on September 8, 1565, in Saint Augustine, Florida. A day for Thanksgiving services was also codified in the founding charter of Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia in 1619. The American holiday's true origin was the New England Calvinist Thanksgiving. Never coupled with a Sabbath meeting, the Puritan observances were special days set aside during the week for thanksgiving and praise in response to God's providence."

Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates throughout history. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November in an attempt to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states. A nationwide Thanksgiving date was not realized until Reconstruction was completed in the 1870s. On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.

Many of the Pilgrims who migrated to the Plymouth Plantation had resided in the city of Leiden from 1609–1620, and had recorded their births, marriages and deaths at the Pieterskerk (St. Peter's church). To commemorate this, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day service is held each year on the morning of the American Thanksgiving Day in the Pieterskerk, a Gothic church in Leiden, noting the hospitality the Pilgrims received in Leiden on their way to the New World.

The Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving is traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the harvest moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. Harvest Thanksgiving in Britain pre-dates Christianity when the Saxons would offer the first sheaf of corn to fertility gods. When the harvest was finally collected, communities would come together for a harvest supper. When Christianity arrived in Britain many traditions remained, and today Harvest Thanksgiving is marked by churches and schools in late September/early October (same as Canada) with singing, praying and decorating with baskets of food and fruit to celebrate a successful harvest and to give thanks. Collections of food are usually held which are then given to local charities which help the homeless and those in need.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday with loved ones, and hoping you enjoy a little of Mr. Turkey. Be well!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Time to Vote! Will it be Hillary or the Donald?

Okay, it's time, my inked up friends. The time is at hand when we Americans must go to the polls and vote for a candidate we feel can lead this great nation for the next four years. Unfortunately, this year has been a rough ride in terms of the political choices, and now we have a highly contentious (and honestly, embarrassingly silly) campaign that will be decided in 24 hours - or not. Not to put a damper on this thing, but it could go down as infamously as the 'chads' incident in 2000. Only time will tell.

In the spirit of what is great about this country, I have selected a few of the wonderfully creative prints and posters associated with this campaign. I hope you enjoy them. Please, if you are of voting age and you are a US citizen, go out and vote tomorrow. If you already did, bless you. This year's election is quite important to our country, and the outcome does impact our allies and the world. Not trying to over emphasize the election, but people around the world will be watching the outcome this time. We will either see a business man or the first woman elected to the office of the presidency. Either way, it will have an impact that will be felt for a long time to come. Go Vote!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Traveling the World with Max Pollack's Prints

Max Pollack's prints give us a sense of the world, and the similarity one can find in places close to home, or far away. I was attracted to an initial elegance and clunky-ness of his work. I do not mean the way Pollack draws, but there is something about the way he composes his images that one sees a well-lived in look to the buildings and street scenes. The way he colors the prints also has something to do with this, but I am most reminded of 19th c. prints of European cities and the cobblestones streets- an intimacy he finds in a cluster of shops.
Whether he chooses to show a mission church in San Francisco, or a skyscraper in New York, Pollack draws with an assurance for architecture. He gives us a glimpse into what attracted him on his numerous travels to Europe.
Pollack shows us buildings that have weathered the test of time, which tilting church bell towers and buildings that look like they are sagging and leaning into one another - like an older couple walking down a street who lean on one another for support. The buildings cannot survive without one another, and that makes them all the more appealing.

There are some loose connections one can draw to other urban artists like John Marin, though Marin's work is more Cubistic and fragmented. Pollack is tied to describing his subjects and the grandeur he sees in these urban settings. People are de-emphasized as we are supposed to look at the architecture - whether quaint or grand. I am pleased to see these works and wonder if I took a trip that I would find the same buildings in the same condition he described them. I would want to.

Max Pollak (1886-1970) was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. His family later moved to Vienna, where he entered the Vienna Academy of Art. In 1912, he traveled to Italy, France, and Holland to continue his studies. During the World War I, he was appointed painter for the Austrian Army.

He immigrated to the U.S. in 1927, living in both New York and San Francisco where he traveled and produced a series of prints. He later traveled to Mexico and Guatemala.

During his career, Pollack produced over 500 prints, for which he won numerous awards.

California Society of Etchers
Chicago Society of Etchers
Prix de Rome

Public Collections:
Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts
British Museum
de Young Memorial Museum
Judah L. Magnes Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York Public Library
Oakland Museum of California Art
Princeton University
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Peter Jogo's Prints of Indulgence

Okay, I am gonna say it. It isn’t fair! Man, how does Peter Jogo do it? The guy’s work is outstanding, even in a field of outstandingly great printmakers. The richness of his textures, and lights and darks, and the close-up way he gets to a still life subject, and then the way he pans back down a small town night time street scene – with the lone street light illuminating the composition. Well, it can make even a veteran printmaker want to cry.

I was enthralled with his Monopoly player pieces, but I truly love his landscapes and their skies. The work translates superbly in black and white, and in color. It’s a good thing he doesn’t do painting, because landscape painters would commit harikari.

Jogo understands his subjects well, and has a real feel for the landscape found in Pennsylvania. It is quiet, reflective and peaceful. The night time scenes accurately portray the life in a small town and one can imagine that the crickets are humming in the shadows. These small print indulgences are treasures in time, and serenity.

Jogo’s prints capture the silence and stillness in both rural and urban landscapes. Many of the settings for his night time landscapes is the town where he lives in Pennsylvania. With his masterful use of subtle tones, set against strong, deep shadows, this artist develops his evocative, velvety black compositions. No matter the setting, Jogo's prints create inviting spaces for us to pause and reflect.

The same is true for his uniquely intriguing micro prints of Monopoly boards and pieces. These prints sing with assurance and masterful technical prowess. The close ups on these pieces are stunningly real and the pieces’ cast reflections onto the Monopoly board are terrific. Truly, the artist is reveling in his craft. It is dumbfounding how well these pieces are portrayed. We should all strive to find more of Jogo’s work online and in galleries. He is out there, and any of his works would be a gem for your print collection.

Peter Jogo was born in Deposit, New York, (a small town east of Binghamton, NY). He studied first at the State University of New York at Albany, then went on to receive his Master of Fine Arts degree from Cornell University. He currently lives and works in Pennsylvania.

Jogo has received several awards, namely a Strathmore Award for Watercolor Excellence from the Butler Institute of American Art, purchase awards from the Pratt Graphics Center, DeCordova Museum, North Carolina Print and Drawing Society, the Print Club of Philadelphia, and the University of Wisconsin.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Paul Landacre's Print Masterpieces

This printmaker will make everyone drool over his work, my friends. Honestly, the impulse to go "Ooooooo" can't be helped. The man's work is just superb. The person in question here is Paul Landacre. He was a Midwestern transplant to the west coast, and his prints of landscapes, or figures or still lifes are things of beauty. I defer to your viewing pleasure......

Paul Hambleton Landacre (1893-1963) was born in Columbus, Ohio. He was a part of the Southern California artistic Renaissance between the world wars and is regarded as one of the outstanding printmakers of the modern era. Landacre developed a singular style of meticulously-carved lines, and delicate cross-hatching. Many of his prints were inspired by the American West, including the hills and mountains of Big Sur, Palm Springs, Monterey, and Berkeley. The work is rich and velvety black with ink. His lines caress the contour of the Californian landscape with grace and simplicity.

Landacre attended Ohio State University until he was suddenly afflicted by an illness. To recuperate, he moved to Chula Vista, California, where he started to walk around and draw the hilly California terrain. In 1922, he moved to Los Angeles to attend the Otis Art Institute. He worked as a commercial illustrator, but became enamored with the printmaking process and devoted himself entirely to the medium from then onward. The result, no surprise, was that Landacre became one of the country’s pre-eminent printmakers.

Landacre taught art at the University of Southern California, Otis Art Institute and the Kahn Institute and held memberships in the California Society of Etchers, California Print Makers Society, American Society of Wood Engravers, and the American Society of Etchers, Gravers, Lithographers and Woodcutters. His prints were included in numerous exhibitions, including the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and are illustrated in numerous books on American printmaking. His work can be found in more than a hundred and fifty public collections throughout the United States.

In March 2006, with the growing appreciation of Landacre's artistic significance, his home was declared a City of Los Angeles landmark (Historic Cultural Monument No. 839). Landacre's papers and many of his original blocks and prints are found at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA.

Public Collections:
Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Library of Congress
Los Angeles Public Library
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Oakland Museum
New York Public Library
Philadelphia Museum
San Francisco, Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts
Seattle Museum
Smithsonian Institute of American Art