Sunday, September 28, 2014

La Mano en Trabajo: Ed Paschke

To coincide with an exhibition opening October 6th, at Benedictine University's Fr. Michael E. Komechak, O.S.B., Art Gallery, this article will discuss the prints of famed Chicago artist, Ed Paschke. This exhibit will be a commemorative look at his work, since his passing ten years ago. It will feature works from the family's private holdings, and some rarely seen works, including prints.

Edward Francis Paschke, 1939 – 2004, was a Polish American painter. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and later worked as a commercial artist, until he was drafted into the Army in 1962. When he returned to Chicago after his service, he worked as an illustrator and then went to teach painting at Northwestern University. His prolific career was cut short when he died on Thanksgiving morning, in 2004, of an apparent heart attack.

For those of you unfamiliar with Paschke's prints, they closely relate to his paintings, which earned him worldwide acclaim, and secured a spot in the art history annals for Chicago's Imagist Movement; popular in the latter part of the 20th century. Paschke's love of making art started as a child while making objects with his father and brother. He liked Disney cartoons and grew up in Chicago during a period of relative calm until the civil rights marches came to the Midwest.
Paschke was aligned with a group of artists working on Chicago who's imagery was drawn from cartoonesque-like characters. Their bond has been a staple of the Chicago art scene, and has inspired numerous artists and followers, Tony Fitzpatrick and Jeff Koons, to name a few.(Koons studied with Paschke at Northwestern University, and admits Paschke's influence upon his own ideas.)
The thing about Paschke's work is that he brings out the crust, if your will, of society. I can't say these images of pimps, strippers and gestapo-like characters aren't prevalent in Chicago. They can be found, but one gets an oddly curious feel for these portraits. They are flamboyant, wild and gregarious. His work includes carney performer posters and weirdly misshapen musicians, with the ever seductive Marilyn Monroe picture stuck in there, just for fun.
A lot has been made of Paschke's fascination with these oddballs, his interest in Latino and African-American male portraits, with a few gangsta gun references and mask-like hooligans. These images are full and present, but there is nothing to suggest Paschke was truly mesmerized by these subjects any more than he was of painting a self-portrait or any other subject. they were subjects readily handy at the time and he grabbed at them, pulled them together in psychedelic neon colors and blazed a trail for us to follow. "I like a lot of color. When I was a kid, I always found fireworks really fascinating. The way that firecrackers are packaged. The circus too. The heightened sense of reality and the total spectacle of it."

His portraits of Michael Jordan were timely, with the Chicago Bulls championships of the 1990s, but he seemed more akin to finding and using the subjects as a tool for expanding his craft. The masks, harken back to Picasso's use of primitive African masks in his work. At one point, Paschke eliminates the subjects' eyes, mouth and nose, deliberately de-personifying them. They have no place or time or identifying features, and then become, in a sense, a universal man. I am reminded of the work of Rodin, who achieved a universal masculinity. Paschke arrives at the same place via his own devices.
The prints were a by-product of his paintings, at a time when a lot of painters were realizing the merits of getting inked up and making images on paper. Paschke proved himself adept at making prints, too, and created some gems, which I am sharing with you today.
Paschke chose to change and manipulate his portraits. He chose to change their sex, and change their face from their body. His compositions are action-packed, and little is left open for us to wander far from the subject. He commands our attention with dexterity, quirky combinations of images and text, and linear bands of color that speak of the MTV Max Headroom days.

His collages portray our fragmented society and our inability to 'tone it down' any longer. IIn a sense, it's as if Paschke is saying that since we can't control whats happening in our visually bombarded world, then we may as well embrace it and crank up the visual volume. He makes us aware that there are always layers beneath one's veneer, beneath the mask we show the world.

I never really bought the idea that Paschke was trying to show the seedy side of Chicago in any specific or moralistic sense. These characters could be found anywhere. Well maybe not Anywhere...Paschke's studio on Howard Street was the dividing line between the big, bad city and the suburban genteel. There would have been enough fringy characters running around the area for a good take on some of his subjects. Yet, the town(Chicago) is the town, and it has its plethora of issues with mafia, gangs, guns, and the like; but it is also a town of hard-working people, and especially hard-working artists. He was a good, hard-working artist who chose a bold, funky subject and ran with it. Who amongst us wouldn't have done the same?

The piece I chose to close this article with is one that was personal for Paschke. "Compassion" is a print of the artist and his wife Nancy. Nancy was also an artist, and after raising two children, Marc and Sharon, she developed a debilitating illness which required a caretaker. As Ed's career continued to take off, people suggested he move to New York to further his career, but he would not leave his wife. This print shows Paschke embracing Nancy as she leans her head on his shoulder. The colors here are noticeably more somber, quiet. They were soul mates. Two months after Paschke's sudden death, Nancy followed after him...
The exhibition at Benedictine University will also feature some of Nancy's work.

In June 2014, the Ed Paschke Art Center was unveiled in Chicago. It is a great place to visit, see some of his work and a replica of his studio. Take a trip and go visit the work of one of Chicago's brightest art stars. You will be glad you did.

Public Collections:
The Art Institute of Chicago
Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland
Benedictine University, Lisle, IL
Birmingham Museum of Art, England
Borg-Warner Corporation, Chicago
Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso, IN
Brooklyn Museum, New York
Carnegie Center for Art & History, New Albany, IN
Carnegie Museum, Pittsburg
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
The Chicago Tribune
Chicago History Museum, Chicago, IL
Cole-Taylor Bank, Chicago
Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI
Continental Bank, Chicago
Elvehjem Museum of Art, Madison, WI
Exxon Corporation, New York
First National Bank of Chicago
General Electric & Co, Fairfield, CT
Hirshorn Museum, Washington, DC
Illinois Bell, Chicago
Illinois State Museum of Art, Springfield, IL
Jacksonville Museum of Art, Florida
Kalamazoo Institute of Art, Michigan
John F Kennedy Library, Washington, DC
Madison Art Center, Madison, WI
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin
Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, AL
Musee d'Art Moderne Nationale, Paris
Museo de Art Contemporaneo de Monterrey, Mexico
Museum Boymans, Rotterdam, Holland
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Inst. Washington, DC
Northern Trust Bank, Chicago
Palmer Museum of Art, Penn State University Museum, University Park, PA
Playboy Collection, Chicago
Polk Museum, Lakeland, Florida
Rutgers University, New Jersey
The State of Illinois, Chicago
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Yale University Museum, CT

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mid America Print Council Comes to the Motor City for its 2014 Biennial Conference

Alright, all my fellow inked up comrades, the time has come for some inked up activities and festivities as the Mid America Print Conference rolls into the Motor City (Detroit) for its 2014 Biennial Conference. September 24-27, 2014. To find more information and sign up, see the link here...

The conference will be hosted by the good people at the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art at Wayne state University.
The usual biennial activities, like print demonstrations, exhibits, exchanges and samplers of the latest print supplies will be available for young and old. Printmakers will be showing their latest masterpieces on paper, and its a great way to grab a few choice pieces for your personal art collections. No matter if you only come for 1 day or stay for the weekend, then conference is a great chance for printmakers to come together, talk shop, and down a few tasty brew-skies.

This year's 2014 Outstanding Printmaker Award goes to Ohio University professor of art, Mary Manusos, and it is much deserved. They have a mighty fine printmaking program at Ohio University.
A favorite for everyone is the Bowling/pizza party which will take place on the first night of the conference, Sept. 24th. Get those bowling balls shined up, folks! No inky bowling balls allowed!

Finally, I will put in a shameless plug while all of you are visiting Detroit, for everyone to make a pilgrimage to the Detroit Institute of Art. It is truly a great museum and one of its star attractions is their print and works on paper collection; with approximately 35,000 prints, drawings, photographs, watercolors, posters and artists books, stretching from the present day back to the 1500's. Given the city's financial woes and issues regarding their want to de-access the museum's collection, it might be a good time to see these treasures while you are in town.

Enjoy the conference, and may the ink continue to flow freely in our veins!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Fantasmic Realities of Konstantin Kalinovich

The prints of Konstantin Kalinovich….well what can one say, but WOW! Take a trip on his magical, mystical realism tour and one still can’t quite fathom the depth of his imagination. I mean, honestly, what kind of mind thinks up these kinds of characters and places? They are an astoundingly complex, delightful, creepy, wildly entertaining and downright bizarre.
And one can’t stop looking at them, wondering how Kalinovich sees these images, let alone pulls them out of his creative hat the way he does. They are superb images, and they sweep us up into their little environs to wander around and share the space with old monks, creepy old men in big hats, moths the size of blimps, and apple carriages and dogs in party hats. They make me smile.
Kalinovich shows references from his printmaking and art ancestors, via the Beatles of the Northern Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, Jean, Paul and Herman Limbourg. He also divulges a reverence for the northern European landscape through the city of Vermeer and his light-filled skies.

The artist’s play with scale also shows his love of Bosch, whose five hundred year old surreal images we still haven’t recovered from; and make us feel like we’ve drunk the wrong potion in a Alice in Wonderland storyline.

Kalinovich compartmentalizes his plots and spots of activity, and counters them with wildly out of Natural order mind-benders like skaters on a man’s lace collar, Ravens the size of elephants flying over wintry, snow-covered cottages straight out of a Pieter Breugel the Elder landscape. The snippets of color add a little surprise element, but one can imagine the color of these places quite easily without it.

The churches and towns and castles come right out of the crusader days of the Middle ages, and his use of symbolic keys in keyholes to open doorways into even more bizarre worlds is almost too much for our poor creative souls to bear; but we must and we should open those doors to see what else Kalinovich has in store for us. We could learn a thing or two, I am sure.
The staggering detail found in Kalinovich’s work is only surpassed by the minutia scale with which he chooses to operate. There is a history of Eastern European printmakers to work in a small scale, maybe in part due to available supply, but their mastery of the plate is incredible. Kalinovich is one of those printmakers who loves to wow us with his imagery, but the skill required to describe these tiny jeweled places sets us on our heels.
He is a master of the old school traditions, and he has brought it out of the past to reinvent our present. The fanciful subjects of his work doesn’t speak directly to any current political or social situations, but he plays with our perceptions of reality, and what we can imagine. But really, my dear inked up comrades, how many of us can picture anything as wild and wonderful as the fantasmic world of Kalinovich?

b.1959, in Novokuznetsk city, Russia
studied at the Ukrainian Academy of Printing 1986 - 1992
elected an Associate of the Royal Society of Printer-Printmakers, 1992
1990 - Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales, Rimney Valley, United Kingdom
1992 - Central Library, Cardiff, United Kingdom
1992 - Center for the Arts "Lantarnam Grunge" Combrailles, United Kingdom
1993 - Gallery "Galart", Lviv, Ukranina
1995 - The City Library, Gutersloh, Germany
1998 - Gallery "Ural", Assen, Netherlands
1999 - Gallery "Ural", Assen, The Netherlands
1999 - Guggenheim Pavilion - Rensernaervil Institute, USA
2000 - Art Salon, Lugansk, Ukraine
2000 - Gallery "Epruv d'Artist" in Antwerp, Belgium
2001 - Gallery "Susekkulen" Olofstrёm, Sweden
2001 - Marine Gallery, Odessa, Ukraine
2001 - Apartment Museum Brodsky, St. Petersburg, Russia
2002 - Tea House Summer Garden, St. Petersburg, Russia
2005 - Ukrainian Cultural Center - traveling exhibition, Finland
2005 - Gallery "l'Atrio", Matera, Italy
2005 - The Museum of Albrecht Dürer, Nuremberg, Germany
2006 - Gallery "Shulok", Iserlohn, Germany
2007 - Gallery "Samlargrafik" Vanneberga Sweden
2008 - Gallery "Triptych", Kiev, Ukraine
2008 - An exhibition salon SDK, Nice , Poland
2008 - Gallery "Epruv d'Artist”, Antwerp, Belgium
2010 - "Waiting for Snow" gallery "Triptych", Kiev, Ukraine

1994 - Award for Excellence,
VII International Exhibition of printmaking, Seoul, South Korea
1996 - Medal P. Steller, II International exhibition of woodcuts, Katowice, Poland
1997 - Prize of the city of Sint-Nikalaas International Bookplate Competition "Fairy Tales", Sint Nikalaas, Belgium
1997 - First Prize, International Competition Bookplate, Gliwice, Poland
2000 - Gold Prize, Biennale Charts, Qingdao, China
2001 - Award-acquisition, exhibition of miniature prints, Norwalk, CT, USA
2001 - Special Prize, IX Biennial of Small Graphic Forms, Isle Wielkopolski, Poland
2002 - Award-acquisition, the National Exhibition of printmaking, London, UK
2003 - Award Masterpiece Tai Cheb International Biennale of prints, Beijing, China
2004 - Award of the Association Plots Slovakia
IV Triennale Bookplate, Bratislava , Slovakia
2005 - First Prize and Medal, XX International Bookplate Biennial, Malbork, Poland
2006 - Award of the company "Giant Art", International Exhibition of Print, Chamalieres, France
2006 - First Prize, International Exhibition of printmaking "Tabula Rasa", Istanbul, Turkey
2006 - Award of Santa Croce, the International Bookplate Competition, Santa Croce sul Arno, Italy
2006 - Grant Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York, USA
2007 - Medal of Honor, XXI Biennial International Ex-libris, Malbork, Poland
2007 - Award-acquisition and Medal VI Biennial of Miniature prints, Norwalk, CT, USA
2007 - Second Prize, International Competition Biennale Gramarina'07, Odessa, Ukranina
2009 - Second Prize, VII Biennial of Miniature prints, Norwalk, CT, USA
2009 - Medal of Honor, XX International Bookplate Biennial, Malbork, Poland
2010 - Second Prize, VIII International Graphic Competition bookplates, Gliwice, Poland
2011 - First Prize and Medal - XXIII International Biennale bookplates, Malbork, Poland
2012 - Second Prize – 1st international exhibition of graphics and Bookplate "Belovezhskaya Pushcha 600", Brest, Belarus
2012 - Prize for the best bookplate - International Biennale bookplate and small graphics, Guangzhou, China