Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Velvet Print Road of Howard Norton Cook

Howard Norton Cook (American,1901–1980) was a well-known printmaker and WPA period muralist. He was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts.
He ventured to New York City in 1919 to attend the Art Students League where he also painted outdoor billboards and worked in printmaking shops between his art classes. In 1922 he began to work as an illustrator creating prints and drawings for several popular magazines like Harper's, Scribner's, Atlantic Monthly, Forum and Survey.
It was while he was working as an illustrator for Forum and Century magazines that he spent two months in Santa Fe before moving to Taos. The experience was transformative and had a lasting impression upon his artwork. While in Taos he met and married fellow artist Barbara Latham.
Cook’s Taos-period artwork reflected his fascination with Native American ceremonial dances from the pueblos, adobe structures, and landscapes which differed so greatly from his earlier urban work. Also he produced a series of prints based upon the Grand Canyon.
Cook and his wife traveled to Paris in 1929, and when they returned to New York, his subject matter shifted toward the city’s numerous construction projects.
He worked under the WPA program, producing murals for courthouses in Pittsburgh and Springfield, MA, plus a large fresco for a San Antonio post office in 1937.
In 1938, the couple re-settled near Taos, on the Talpa ridge.

During World War II he served in the South Pacific as an artist-war correspondent for the US Navy. In 1943 he was appointed Leader of a War Art Unit and served in the Solomon Islands.
In the 1940s, Cook's work focused mostly on American Southwest scenes. By the end of the decade, his style had become much more abstract. He moved toward making collages by the 1950s.
During his career Cook taught as a guest professor at several art schools and universities. His work continued to gain attention long after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which confined him to a wheelchair and stopped his art career.
The look of Cook’s work reminds us of the work of notable WPA era artists, Margaret Bourke-White and her industrial machinery, simplicity of fellow Taos artist Gustave Baumann’s compositions, the watercolors of Charles Sheeler, and the watercolors of the legendary John Marin.
Cook’s blacks are the most luscious, velvety of blacks ever seen, and his lines define contours and form in a way that wraps itself around his subjects – whether human or industrial I-beams. Both are carefully and equally handled to reveal his interest in the subject, making us envious of his skill and his experiences to see these wonderful places. He makes us jealous of his compositions; full of angularly unique lines and shapes.
The man’s work is a treasure, and it needs to be seen more often. Give these images a good look, and take a step back into time when NYC was a bustling joint and the American Southwest was his peaceful counterpart to the urban scene. It’s no wonder many east coast artists flocked out to New Mexico, and still do. It is an uplifting, artistic mecca where one can find time to reflect and renew our creative spirit.Cook takes us on his velvet print road of adventure and we are all better informed artistically for it.

Two Guggenheim Fellowships
Membership in the National Academy as a graphic artist
Gold Medal for mural painting by the Architectural League of New York
First Artist in Residence at the Roswell Museum - 1967
SFB Morse Gold Medal from the National Academy of Design

Public Collections:
Albuquerque Museum
Art Institute of Chicago
Baltimore Museum of Art
Bibliotheque Nationale
British Museum
Fogg Art Museum
Harvard University
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Minneapolis Art Institute
Museum of Modern Art
Newark Museum
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Princeton Museum of Art
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Victoria & Albert Museum
Whitney Museum of American Art

Friday, March 17, 2017

All the World is Irish!

All the World is an adopted brethren of the Irish today as we celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Much love to all, including my inked up friends far and wide. Celebrate today, for tomorrow we print!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

John Hitchcock: Print Spirit Keeper

After viewing John Hitchcock's prints and installations, one is left with an understanding of things not necessarily in today's highly charged public eye, but we left with a knowledge of atrocities from the past and imminent danger of the future. Hitchcock's work brings out the ghosts and fears of our past. He presents images of desecrated animals as decaying hunting trophies, and contrasts them against objects of mass destruction which threaten our planet. His is challenging work, not only for its subject, but for the thoughtful and engaging manner of his installations which wrap around rooms and cover floor to ceiling.

The spirits invoked by his portraits of animals long since hunted, killed and kept a a sort of trophy or headdress used in spiritual ceremonies call us to acknowledge their spirit and power and place in the world which is diminished from their loss. His contrasted use of flat images of bombs and tanks with the animals speaks about the destruction of the natural world. If the animals aren't able to be respected or saved, then we are not far behind them. I believe Hitchcock is amply using the print medium to communicate his concerns about social and political issues. The refreshingly interactive elements of his installations activate the room and bring printmaking, and its relevance as an art form, to the present day. He is challenging our notions of the 2-dimensional aspects of the medium to enliven and shake up our antiquated sensibilities about what the medium can do. Bravo! Here's to hoping Hitchcock continues to bring his messages about hope and destruction to greater and greater audiences as his career develops.

John Hitchcock was born and raised around Lawton, Oklahoma. He earned his MFA in printmaking and photography at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas and received his BFA from Cameron University, in Lawton, Oklahoma.
He is currently an Artist and Associate Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Hitchcock’s artwork is deeply informed by his personal biography and family history. He grew up in western Oklahoma on Comanche tribal lands in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma next to Ft Sill, a US field artillery military base. Fort Sill was originally established in 1869 to wage battles against American Indians.

Hitchcock’s mother is of Comanche and Kiowa ancestry, a descendant of the indigenous Plains tribes affected by the federal government’s systematic policy of forced removal and relocation. The artist’s parents met when his father served at Fort Sill. Raised in this area, Hitchcock was exposed to the training activities at the base, which sensitized him to an American culture of violence and military action.

Hitchcock uses the print medium with its long history of social and political commentary to explore relationships of community, land, and culture. Images of U.S. military weaponry are combined with mythological hybrid creatures from the Wichita Mountains of western Oklahoma to explore notions of assimilation and control. He explores notions of good, evil, death, and life cycles. His depictions of beasts, animals, and machines act as a metaphors for human behavior and cycles of violence. His artwork is a response to human behavior towards nature and other people.

Hitchcock’s current artwork consists of mythological hybrid creatures (buffalo, wolf, boar, deer, moose) and military weaponry (tanks and helicopters) based on his childhood memories. He depicts stylized skulls of animal heads - buffalo, horse, and deer—that represent departed family members, and are linked to American Indian folklore passed down through his ancestors. The work reflects on communities and traditions disrupted by war and cultural genocide.

The American Photography Institute
Jerome Foundation grant
National Graduate Seminar Fellowship at New York University
Tisch School of Arts
Vilas Associate Grant at University of Wisconsin-Madison

New Zealand
South Africa
United States

Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Day Greetings from That's Inked Up

Greeting and happy Valentine's day to all my inked up friends. I wanted to share some valentines with you all, and share the wealth of our printed brethren's creativity for the day. Happy returns to all.....