Wednesday, July 26, 2017

'Tis the Season for Baseball and Printmaking!

When the summer months roll around, and you are driving around the neighborhood, it is a common sight to see a group of kids playing baseball in a park, or batting some balls on the street. Who hasn't had a baseball come careening through and break their one of home windows? A Such is the plight of many a home owner when there is a baseball lying around.

I have selected some choice printmaking gems on the national past time, because I live in Chicago and the annual Cross-town Classic is being played between the beloved northside's Cubs and the southside's White Sox. This is a brutal rivalry to be sure, but also good-natured and requiring tolerance of each other's obsessive need to wear black and white, or red and blue in the face of the perceived rival/enemy. Our house is a split home so the jabs are frequent about the other person's "poor team will have to lose Again", etc.

Whatever your personal favored team, I have rounded up a few prints by our inked up brethren, so enjoy the game, and...Go Cubs!

For anyone unfamiliar to the game of Baseball, it is played between two teams of nine players each, who take turns batting and fielding. The batting team attempts to score runs by hitting a ball that is thrown by the opposing team's pitcher with a bat swung by the batter, then running counter-clockwise around a series of four bases. A run is scored when a player advances around all four bases. A game is composed of nine innings, and the team with the greater number of runs at the end of the game wins. If scores are tied at the end of nine innings, extra innings are usually played. In the United States and Canada, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL), each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The major league champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series.

Baseball evolved from older bat-and-ball games played in England from the mid-18th century. This game was originally brought (by immigrants) to North America. By the late 19th century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is currently popular in North America, Central and South America, the Caribbean and East Asia.

A French manuscript from 1344 contains an illustration of clerics playing a game with similarities to baseball. Consensus once held that today's baseball is a North American development from the older game rounders, popular in Great Britain and Ireland. Rounders and early baseball were actually variants of each other, and that the game's most direct antecedents are the English games of stoolball and "tut-ball".

The earliest known reference to baseball is in a 1744 British publication, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, by John Newbery. It contains a rhymed description of "base-ball" and a woodcut that shows a field set-up somewhat similar to the modern game—though in a triangular configuration, and with posts instead of ground-level bases. The first recorded game of "Bass-Ball" took place in 1749 in Surrey, and featured the Prince of Wales as a player. Rounders was also brought to the United States by Canadians of both British and Irish ancestry. The first known American reference to baseball appears in 1791, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The first officially recorded baseball game in U.S. history took place on June 19, 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey: the "New York Nine" defeated the Knickerbockers, 23–1, in four innings. In the mid-1850s, a baseball craze hit the New York metropolitan area. By 1856, local journals were referring to baseball as the "national pastime" or "national game." A year later, sixteen area clubs formed the sport's first governing body, the National Association of Base Ball Players. The game's commercial potential was developing: in 1869 the first fully professional baseball club, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was formed and went undefeated against semipro and amateur teams. The first professional league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, lasted from 1871 to 1875.

The more formally structured National League was founded in 1876. In 1884, African American Moses Walker (and his brother Welday) played in the American Association. By the early 1890s, a gentlemen's agreement in the form of the baseball color line effectively barred black players from the white-owned professional leagues, major and minor. Professional Negro leagues formed, but quickly folded. Also in 1884, overhand pitching was legalized. In 1887, softball, under the name of indoor baseball or indoor-outdoor, was invented as a winter version of the game. The National League's first successful counterpart, the American League, which evolved from the minor Western League, was established that year.

The World Series, pitting the two major league champions against each other, was inaugurated in the fall of 1903. Motivated by dislike for owner Charles Comiskey and gamblers' payoffs, members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the 1919 World Series. The Black Sox Scandal led to the formation of a new National Commission of baseball. The first major league baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, was elected in 1920. That year also saw the founding of the Negro National League; the first significant Negro league, it would operate until 1931. For part of the 1920s, it was joined by the Eastern Colored League.

The rise of the legendary player Babe Ruth, the first great power hitter of the new era, helped permanently alter the nature of the game. A new Negro National League was organized in 1933; four years later, it was joined by the Negro American League. The first elections to the National Baseball Hall of Fame took place in 1936. In 1939 Little League Baseball was founded in Pennsylvania. By the late 1940s, it was the organizing body for children's baseball leagues across the United States.

With America's entry into World War II, many professional players went to serve in the armed forces. Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley led the formation of a new professional league with women players to help keep the game in the public eye – the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League existed from 1943 to 1954. The inaugural College World Series was held in 1947, and the Babe Ruth League youth program was founded. In 1947, Robinson broke the major leagues' color barrier when he debuted with the Dodgers; Larry Doby debuted with the American League's Cleveland Indians later the same year. Latin American players started entering the majors. In 1951, two Chicago White Sox, Venezuelan-born Chico Carrasquel and black Cuban-born Minnie Miñoso, became the first Hispanic All-Stars.

No major league team had been located west of St. Louis until 1958, when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants relocated to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively. Regular-season interleague play was introduced in 1997.
In 2001, Barry Bonds established the current record of 73 home runs in a single season. In 2007, Bonds became MLB's all-time home run leader, surpassing Hank Aaron.

In 1847, American soldiers played what may have been the first baseball game in Mexico at Parque Los Berros in Xalapa, Veracruz. The first formal baseball league outside of the United States and Canada was founded in 1878 in Cuba. The Dominican Republic held its first islandwide championship tournament in 1912. Professional baseball tournaments and leagues began to form in other countries between the world wars, including the Netherlands (1922), Australia (1934), Japan (1936), Mexico (1937), and Puerto Rico (1938).

The Japanese major leagues have long been considered the highest quality professional circuits outside of the United States. After World War II, professional leagues were founded in many Latin American countries, most prominently Venezuela (1946) and the Dominican Republic (1955). In Asia, South Korea (1982), Taiwan (1990) and China (2003) all have professional leagues.

Many European countries have professional leagues as well, the most successful, other than the Dutch league, being the Italian league founded in 1948. In 2004, Australia won a surprise silver medal at the Olympic Games.

After being admitted to the Olympics as a medal sport beginning with the 1992 Games, baseball was dropped from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

And lest we ever forget the famous phrase said my Tom Hanks' character from " A League of Their Own"...

Monday, July 10, 2017

France's Auguste-Louis Lepere

Auguste-Louis Lepère (1849 - 1918) was a French artist who was considered the a European leader in printmaking circles. By the mid-1870s, Lepère had clearly emerged as one of the most renowned printmakers of his time. Lepère became an expert both in making reproductive images from which others prepared matrixes to print images, and in making the prints himself.

He was born to the sculptor François Lepère. He was apprenticed at the age of thirteen to the English printmaker Joseph Burn Smeeton who worked in Paris. Lepère desired to be a painter and submitted his work to the annual Salons but he also worked for thirty years as an illustrator, earning his livelihood producing printmaking illustrations for various magazines. Prints were widely used for illustrations in journals during that time so it provided him with a dependable income.

With the advent of photographic images being used for magazines and newspapers, Lepere stubbornly continued to make his images in the printmaking media. It was a natural progression for him to move from magazine illustration to book illustration and Lepère became well-known as one of the masters of French book illustration.
Between 1889 and 1901, Lepere’s favorite subjects were the urban Parisian scenes—bridges, cathedrals and boulevards. He focused mostly on daily life and he is now renowned for his use of colored paper, and combining printmaking processes on the same print. In total, his graphic body of work consists of over 150 etchings, over 200 wood engravings and 14 lithographs.

In the 1880s Lepère’s reproductive prints business expanded, while he continued to publish original prints. He abandoned his atelier in 1884, and after 1885 pursued making only original prints for journals and illustrations in books and prints sold as single sheets.

He exhibited his prints in the Salon, receiving medals in 1881 and 1887.
Lepère’s artistic experimentation continued in 1889 with hand-colored prints. In the Exposition des Peintres-Graveurs at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in 1890, he exhibited 41 works in a variety of media. Also in that year he exhibited his prints at the Salon Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

His work encouraged artists like Henri Rivière, Félix Vallotton and Paul Gauguin in the 1890s, leading to a revival of printmaking.
After 1900 Lepère was financially able to spend more time painting, and his earlier work was republished in portfolios.

Member of the Legion of Honor

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy 4th of July from That's Inked Up!

Ah, my friends, the time has come for us to put aside our rollers and plates and stones and inks and papers. Temporarily, of course! The 4th of July is upon us and that means we gather with friends and family and fire up the grill, make some good old-fashioned coleslaw, get some chips and salsa and pass around a few cold iced teas and some hardier brewskis. We get a day or two to celebrate what is great about our country, watch some fireworks and splash about in the pool or go sailing or lounge about in the hammock. There is more to if, for certain, but these are common activities to celebrate our freedoms and our ways of life in the good ol' U.S. of A.

On the 4th, our first lady of freedom, Lady Liberty, gets to have a regatta of boats parade around her in New York City's harbor, and watches the fireworks with us. She is a great symbol for truth and justice, and a great source of strength to all visitors to our fair shores. I wanted to put up a single print, by Peter Max, that shows her resilience and resolve to be a source of hope and determination for our nation. God Bless Mr. Eiffel who made her, and Bless the French for bringing her to our country.

Many Blessings to all of you out there. Be safe wherever you are, and enjoy the holiday, for on the 5th, we will get back to inking it up!

Monday, June 26, 2017

La Printeria: Transforming San Antonio's Printmaking Scene

I recently saw a post by an up and coming printmaking studio, located in San Antonio, Texas, called La Printeria. The good folks there have a terrific studio, and offer classes and press-time to printmakers of all ages and experience. The owner, Harvey Mireles, is working with the local city and arts groups to make a special thing happen...he wants to help train young persons the trade of making prints, and encourage them to become artists and express their talents through prints. Great idea. His training workshops have helped people find work, and bring focus to their lives.

This noble cause is born out of a desire to see youth succeed and not be tempted by things that could derail their lives. Mireles' own life path was a longish journey, but he decided to make a change and trained himself how to make prints, and now he wants to give back to the community to help others. I applaud his goal and mission. I hope there are more places out there like La Printeria. If there are, I say Thank you! If there are, please write to me and tell me about yourself and your own printshop.
( I will tell your story as well. Anyone who can bring the printed image to the public, is worth talking about and spreading their message. Congratulations to Harvey and all the people who work with him at La Printeria. Keep up the good fight!

You can find information about La Printeria on Facebook Their web address is and they are located at 563 SW 40th St, San Antonio, TX 78237 (210) 852-8898.
If you stop by, Flower may be hanging around, so give her some love, too!

They have a go fund me page about looking for sponsors to help teens take an 8 week printmaking workshop which starts in July.Give them some inked up love as only we printmakers can!

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