Friday, November 17, 2017

Be Thankful This Holiday Season!

Although the American concept of Thanksgiving developed in the colonies of New England, its roots can be traced back to the other side of the Atlantic. Both the Separatists who came over on the Mayflower and the Puritans who arrived soon after brought with them a tradition of providential holidays—days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty.

As an annual celebration of the harvest and its bounty, Thanksgiving falls under a category of festivals that spans cultures, continents and millennia. In ancient times, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. Historians have noted that Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores.

For some scholars, the jury is still out on whether the feast at Plymouth really constituted the first Thanksgiving in the United States. Indeed, historians have recorded other ceremonies of thanks among European settlers in North America that predate the Pilgrims’ celebration.

In 1565, the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilé invited members of the local Timucua tribe to a dinner in St. Augustine, Florida, after holding a mass to thank God for his crew’s safe arrival. On December 4, 1619, when 38 British settlers reached a site known as Berkeley Hundred on the banks of Virginia’s James River, they read a proclamation designating the date as “a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—group of religious separatists seeking a place where they could freely practice their faith, plus other people lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, and the Pilgrims began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout the first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring.

In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically it remains one of the sole examples of harmony between the European colonists and Native Americans.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a feast and invited a group of the Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving” the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the banquet’s menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.

Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well.

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; where he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.

In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; however each state celebrated it on a different day. Abraham Lincoln finally in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation” scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression.

In many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. Turkey may or may not have been on the menu when the Pilgrims hosted the inaugural feast in 1621. Today, however, nearly 90 percent of Americans eat the bird on Thanksgiving. Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Volunteering is a common Thanksgiving Day activity, and communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate.

May you all have a great Thanksgiving holiday with your family, friends and those in need of company. Blessings to everyone!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Chizuko Yoshida's Balance of Nature

Chizuko Yoshida (née Inoue) was born in 1924 in Japan. She is a Modernist artist, whose work reflects the developments of Japanese art post World War II. She is also the middle link in the succession of three generations of women artists in the Yoshida family(a rarity in Japanese art). She is the wife of artist Hodaka Yoshida (1926–1995). Hodaka’s mother, Fujio Yoshida (1887–1987), was a noted artist alongside of her husband Hiroshi Yoshida (1876–1950). Chizuko's daughter, Ayomi Yoshida (born 1958), is well known for her modernist prints and installations.

Chizuko's first art teacher was Fumio Kitaoka. She studied design at Hongo Art Institute until it was destroyed in WWII. Due to the frequent air raids she was sent to Aoyama until the end of the war, then in 1949 joined an art seminar of Okamoto Tarō. A year later she became a member of two important art associations: the Pacific Painting Society, and Shuyōkai.

She joined two important art associations after returning to Tokyo: the Pacific Painting Society (Taiheiyō-Gakai), established in 1902 by Hiroshi Yoshida and Ishikawa Toraji and the Vermilion Leaf Society (Shuyōkai), a womens’ artist group, established by Fujio Yoshida (1887-1987)in 1920.

In the late 1940s, Chizuko started participating in a group of avant-garde artists, writers, and intellectuals called the Century Society (Seiki no kai), who met to discuss art theory and criticism. Okamoto Tarō, a prominent Surrealist painter and critic, led the group where Chizuko was exposed to discourse on the integration of Japanese cultural traditions with international modernist ideas. Under Okamoto’s influence, Chizuko's work moved toward abstract compositions.

She began submitting works to the Taiheiyō shows and in 1949 was made an associate member of the group. It was through the Taiheiyō that she met Hodaka Yoshida. They attended Onchi Kōshirō’s art seminar together, held an exhibition of their works and in 1953 they were married. They have two children, Ayomi and Takasuke (1959- an art jewelry maker), and they have had long careers as independently inspired modern printmakers.

Chizuko eventually developed her own distinctive style. In her best-known abstractions, she expresses the ephemeral beauty of nature: the balance one finds between delicacy and strength, and the variety within repetition. Her prints range from geometric abstraction to music to nature. Underlying her compositions is an inner strength, the recollection of a moment. Later, in the mid-1960s, she embraced a 3-dimensional quality to her work. Chizuko’s best-known subjects are butterflies.

Chizuko has been a member of the Japanese Print Association since 1954 and she also helped establish the Women’s Printmakers Association in 1954. She has exhibited in the College Women’s Association of Japan since 1956 and in the annual Contemporary Women’s Exhibition in Ueno Museum since 1987. She has been invited to exhibit in many international art and print biennials.

In 2014, she was one of five contemporary Japanese women artists featured in Portland Art Museum’s exhibition called “Breaking Barriers: Japanese Women Print Artists 1950–2000."

Public Collections:

The British Museum
Art Institute of Chicago
Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art
Tokyo International Museum of Modern Art
Yokohama Museum of Art

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Earl Newman exhibits at the Los Angeles Printers Fair

Greetings everyone,

I thought I would give a salute to a longtime printmaker from Oregon whose work will be featured at the Los Angeles Printers Fair next weekend in Los Angeles, of course.
The Fair will be held SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2017, from 10 am to 5 pm, and it supports the non-profit International Printing Museum and its educational mission.The Fair is suitable for all ages. General admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 12 years of age. Students, educators, enthusiasts, collectors, typophiles, bibliophiles, graphic designers, artists, and professionals will enjoy the varied demonstrations and array of vendors.


Printmaker-Artist EARL NEWMAN, a member of the 1960’s Avant-garde Los Angeles art poster scene. Newman has designed and printed the posters for the Monterey Jazz Festival for 50 years (a collection that has recently been acquired by the Smithsonian), posters for the Abbott Kinney Street Fair here in Los Angeles, and many of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Theater Posters. The exhibition will feature work from his extensive and impressive portfolio.

Newman will be in attendance at the fair selling signed limited edition prints and sharing stories of his six decades working with the music, theater, and art worlds. He will also be selling a special limited edition poster print of the 2017 Los Angeles Printers Fair show guide cover, designed by the artist himself. Visit to see his work.

I wanted to give you a sampling of some of his greatest pieces....

Massachusetts College of Art-BFA 1956
Harvard University Graduate School-AMT 1957

This is a chance to meet and greet with one of the best in the biz, folks. Take advantage of it if you are visiting LA next weekend.

Another special exhibit...
"Printing on the Silver Screen", will feature printing presses and artifacts that the Printing Museum has rented to Hollywood over the last 75 years. These presses have been featured in many movies and Westerns, including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Have Gun Will Travel (1957), even John Boy’s Press on The Waltons (1971). More modern rentals include TV’s Gilmore Girls (2004), NCIS (2010), Seven Pounds (2008), and the critically acclaimed film Inception (2010). Guests will have a chance to print a special “Newsies Banner” keepsake on the actual press rented for the cult hit Newsies (1992).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Art Werger's Glittering Cityscapes

The work of Art Werger is stunningly perfect and makes the rest of us go, "Man, he is just too good!" Yes, he is good, more than good. He is a master at this work, and loves it, obviously.

Art Werger's prints are based in his New Jersey childhood. His city scenes glitter with the twinkling lights of thousands of office buildings and street signs. They entice us to come see what's happening in the urban big town and become a part of the party. But there is a dark feel about some of them as well. We are transported back in time to the black and white film noir era in some of his cityscapes.

His suburban scenes though, they reflect a quieter place and time; more evocative of childhood memories of summer evenings walking through the neighborhood streets with a friend, or the family dog. The lighting Werger imbues with these images also has a special quality, as light filters through the tree-lined streets dancing over us as in a dream-like place.

Werger is an artist who revels in the complexities of printmaking process, and who carefully refines his images with intense precision. These are tremendous works of a master completely working in his element.

Public Collections:
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
the Boston Public Library
the Brooklyn Museum
the Philadelphia Museum of Art
the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Trenton Museum, New Jersey

Festival Szuki, Rybnik 2000
Intergraphia Katowic
World Award Winners Gallery
Triennale Graphiki, Kracow, Poland 2000

Monday, August 21, 2017

Printmaking's Jazz Infusion

An exhibition of Herman Leonard's "Legends of Jazz" inspired me to look for our inked up brethren who have been inspired by the subject of jazz music for their printmaking and I found some excellent pieces which I will now share with you. The beat, the rhythms, the instruments, the sweat of a musician's brow, the spotlight, the cool, clean elegance and snappy thin ties with trim suits. the female seductress singing on stage surrounded by male musicians who all give their soul to this genre. They uplift us, and make us feel oh so cool to be listening to their music. We feel hip and smart and feel the music infuse our bodies with something that is edgy and wild. It is a broad genre with a lot of cultural evolutions, but it is Never dull or boring to hear. Even the Sebs nightclub in this year's runaway hit movie La La Land featured some excellent jazz players and brought about an appreciation for this ever popular music. Enjoy the brief historical essay that follows....

Jazz is a music genre that originated in African American communities of New Orleans, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression.

The 1950s saw the emergence of free jazz, and in the mid-1950s, hard bop emerged, which introduced influences from rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues. Modal jazz developed in the late 1950s, using the musical scale as the basis of musical structure and improvisation.

Jazz-rock fusion appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s, combining jazz improvisation with rock music's rhythms, electric instruments, and highly amplified stage sound. In the early 1980s, a commercial form of jazz fusion called smooth jazz became successful. Other styles and genres grew in the 2000s, such as Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz.

The question of the origin of the word jazz is well documented. It is believed to be related to jasm, a slang term dating back to 1860 meaning "pep, energy." The earliest written record of the word is in a 1912 article in the Los Angeles Times in which a minor league baseball pitcher described a pitch which he called a jazz ball "because it wobbles and you simply can't do anything with it."

Jazz has proved to be very difficult to define, since it encompasses such a wide range of music spanning a period of over 100 years, from ragtime to the 2010-era rock-infused fusion. Attempts have been made to define jazz from the perspective of other musical traditions, such as European music history or African music.

Jazz is a "form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of the Negro with European music and arguing that it differs from European music in that jazz has a special relationship to time defined as 'swing, involves a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role.
Although jazz is considered highly difficult to define, at least in part because it contains so many varied subgenres, improvisation is consistently regarded as being one of its key elements.

To some African Americans, jazz has highlighted their contribution to American society and helped bring attention to black history and culture, but for others, the music and term "jazz" are reminders of "an oppressive and racist society and restrictions on their artistic visions.
When men were drafted for WWII, many all-women big band jazz bands took over. The International Sweethearts of Rhythm (founded 1937) was a well-known jazz group of this era, becoming the first all-women integrated band in the U.S., touring Europe in 1945 and becoming the first black women to travel with the USO.

Jazz originated in the late 19th to early 20th century as interpretations of American and European classical music entwined with African and slave folk songs and the influences of West African culture. Its composition and style have changed many times throughout the years with each performer's personal interpretation and improvisation, which is also one of the greatest appeals of the genre. The music of New Orleans had a profound effect on the creation of early jazz.

From 1920 to 1933, Prohibition in the United States banned the sale of alcoholic drinks, resulting in illicit speakeasies which became lively venues of the "Jazz Age", hosting popular music including current dance songs, novelty songs, and show tunes. Jazz began to get a reputation as being immoral, and many members of the older generations saw it as threatening the old cultural values and promoting the new decadent values of the Roaring 20s.
Also in the 1920s Skiffle, jazz played with homemade instruments such as washboard, jugs, musical saw, kazoos, etc. began to be recorded in Chicago, IL. later merging with country music.

By the 1940s, Duke Ellington's music had transcended the bounds of swing, bridging jazz and art music in a natural synthesis
Dizzy Gillespie wrote:
... People talk about the Hines band being 'the incubator of bop' and the leading exponents of that music ended up in the Hines band. But people also have the erroneous impression that the music was new. It was not. The music evolved from what went before. It was the same basic music. The difference was in how you got from here to here to here ... naturally each age has got its own shit.
In the late 1940s, there was a revival of "Dixieland" music, harking back to the original contrapuntal New Orleans style.

Cool jazz later became strongly identified with the West Coast jazz scene.
Latin jazz is the term used to describe jazz which employs Latin American rhythms and is generally understood to have a more specific meaning than simply jazz from Latin America. A more precise term might be Afro-Latin jazz, as the jazz subgenre typically employs rhythms that either have a direct analog in Africa or exhibit an African rhythmic influence beyond what is ordinarily heard in other jazz. The two main categories of Latin jazz are Afro-Cuban jazz and Brazilian jazz.

Afro-Cuban jazz often uses Afro-Cuban instruments such as congas, timbales, güiro, and claves, combined with piano, double bass, etc. Afro-Cuban jazz began with Machito's Afro-Cubans in the early 1940s. For most of its history, Afro-Cuban jazz had been a matter of superimposing jazz phrasing over Cuban rhythms.
But by the end of the 1970s, a new generation of New York City musicians had emerged who were fluent in both salsa dance music and jazz, leading to a new level of integration of jazz and Cuban rhythms. Brazilian jazz such as bossa nova is derived from samba, with influences from jazz and other 20th-century classical and popular music styles.

Soul jazz was a development of hard bop which incorporated strong influences from blues, gospel and rhythm and blues to create music for small groups.
By the mid-1970s, the sound known as jazz-funk had developed, characterized by a strong back beat (groove), electrified sounds and, often, the presence of electronic analog synthesizers. Jazz-funk also draws influences from traditional African music, Afro-Cuban rhythms and Jamaican reggae.

In 1987, the United States House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill proposed by Democratic Representative John Conyers, Jr. to define jazz as a unique form of American music, stating:
... that jazz is hereby designated as a rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should devote our attention, support and resources to make certain it is preserved, understood and promulgated.
It passed in the House of Representatives on September 23, 1987, and in the Senate on November 4, 1987.

The 1980s saw something of a reaction against the fusion and free jazz , so a commercial form of jazz fusion called "pop fusion" or "smooth jazz" became popular.
In 2001, Ken Burns' documentary Jazz was premiered on PBS, featuring Wynton Marsalis and other experts reviewing the entire history of jazz to that time.