New Work for a New Year

Black Window #1, cut paper collage over monoprint,  © 2015

Black Window #1, cut paper collage over monoprint, © 2015

This work began as a series in cut paper last fall after I took a class from Henry Bermudez at Fleisher Art Memorial. Bermudez teaches students to cut paper and reassemble it as assemblage and collage. His own work uses this technique to express emotion and memory of his life in South America and the United States.

I had seen his work several times before the class started, most notably in the Fleisher Faculty Exhibition last summer, when his monumental cut paper piece dominated one of the galleries, in tones of blue and yellow, with lots of small animals and cut paper shapes surrounding a large cross. I was eager to see how my work as a printmaker would grow and change under his influence.

The first revelation was that cutting paper and floating it above the surface of the backing board moved the image from two-dimensions to three. I was trained as an architect, and thought in three-dimensions for decades. I always think of my 2-D prints in terms of layers, but they are flattened into one plane. Now for the first time, my prints can rise off the page into space. This alone was amazing.

As I worked, I began to incorporate the grid imagery from my recent monoprint series. I traced the outline of the window muntins and bars onto stiff watercolor paper, and used that as my top layer, floating above the backing board on tiny hidden stilts of acid-free foam core board. For the underlayer, I brought out a series of silkscreen monoprints I had done in class at Fleisher back in 2005. I had used a stencil composed of open and closed rectangles that I had filled using one color of ink with a variety of textures that resulted in a related series of monoprints printed in transparent values of the four process colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Black Monoprint2005, screenprint, Bill Brookover,  ©

Black Monoprint, screenprint, Bill Brookover, © 2005

As I placed the variegated veils of pigmented color under the cut grid, a second revelation occurred, as a new dialogue began between the two geometries. The colored rectangles on the backing board seemed to sing in harmony with the gridded openings of the upper layer.

These works are my first exploration into this new way of working. I made cut paper collages using each of the 4 colors, creating a suite of windows, all with the same grid floating above different colorways below.

Yellow Window #1 and Black Window #1 are now on view at Orchard Artworks from through April 26, 2015.

Cyan Window #1 and Magenta Window #1 will be on view at the Main Line Art Center from May 1 to June 7, 2015.

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Andrea Krupp – Artist’s Talk at Free Library

Presence, Andrea Krupp, woodcut, 2015, on view in Print & Picture Hallway Gallery

Presence, Andrea Krupp, woodcut, 2015, on view in Print & Picture Hallway Gallery

Andrea Krupp, painter & printmaker, has work on view in the Print and Picture Hallway Gallery, 2nd Floor of Central Library, 1901 Vine Street. She’s giving an artist’s talk on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 6 pm. You can register for this free event here: http://tinyurl.com/pxzwzm3

Her work in this show developed out of an artist’s residency at Listhus in North Iceland in 2014. Her work explores the impression a place makes on an artist: the geography, light and landscape unique to a particular place. I hope you can join me for this fascinating glimpse into an artist’s process.

She has posted images from the show at her website, Andrea Krupp / Day-to-Day.

Historic Preservation: Driven by Nostalgia?

My daughter, Sophie Brookover, writes a weekly newsletter called Two Bossy Dames with her friend, Margaret Willison. They are investigating links between nostalgia and various cultural products, including historic preservation. She sent me an email posing some questions about it, citing both losses and successes, and asked for my thoughts. Here’s what I wrote her:

Preservation of the recent past has always been a tough sell. Historic preservation in the US didn’t really take off until the 1960s. It had been a rather genteel affair earlier in the 20th century, focused mostly on colonial through ante-bellum history. The rise of urban renewal and routing interstate highways through cities created a tipping point that led to today’s preservation landscape.

Keep in mind a few points:

1. Historic preservation is always fighting against greed and taste. Americans view their homes as their castles and don’t want anyone telling them what to do with their private property. Also, home ownership is one of the largest financial assets most folks have, so it is very touchy.

ProvidentTrust - perry borchers

Provident Life & Trust Company Building in an old photograph (c. 1879-80), by Perry E. Borchers, HABS photographer – Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, HABS.PA.51-PHILA.256-11. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Orange County Government Center by Daniel Case at the English language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Orange County Government Center by Daniel Case at the English language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Each generation loves what their parents hated, and hate what their parents loved. So the preservationists of the 60s and 70s started loving the post Civil War exuberant Victorian excesses that their parents hated. Think of how many Frank Furness jewels were lost in the 50s by planners who saw them as gee-gaw encrusted nightmares. Mid-century modern in coming into vogue, but not so much the brutalist hulks built in the 60s and 70s, which is the problem Paul Rudolf is having with the Orange County Government Center. Likewise, Boston City Hall, a great unloved building. Check out this tumblr:  http://fuckyeahbrutalism.tumblr.com/

3.  Preservation law is strongest at the local level. This is where planning and zoning laws are applied. So local municipalities are the ones who have to pass preservation ordinances with real teeth. Few cities have done this. Savannah, Charleston, and New Orleans were early leaders in this effort, and protected historic districts, not just individual buildings. New York has one of the strongest laws, back by a well funded Landmarks Preservation Commission. Philadelphia has a strong ordinance, but the Historical Commission is woefully underfunded. They have the authority to create and regulate historic districts, but not enough staff to take on new ones.

Conrad Show Store, courtesy Philadelphia Public Library

Conrad Show Store, courtesy Philadelphia Public Library

4. Another piece is how well historians and preservation agencies have done their homework by identifying things worth saving and building constituencies to care about them. This is hampered by inadequate funding and lack of political authority. In an ideal world, the Lou Kahn storefront on Chestnut Street would have been identified as important and protected. But I’ve never heard scholars of Kahn’s work talk about his early commercial work (with the recent exception of William Whitaker’s post for Hidden City) or the Clever House in Cherry Hill, again described most eloquently by Whitaker. The commercial work doesn’t fit the narrative of his heroic monumentalism, and the Clever House is more Anne Tyng, his collaborator and mother of his 1st child out of wedlock, than Kahn. The Historical Commission didn’t go to bat to save the storefront; Cherry Hill Township is interested in seeing the Clever House saved, but not to the point of designating it over the objections of the owner (see property rights, above).

I agree that nostalgia and preservation success go hand in hand (coupled with economic development, as in Palm Springs). The buildings, landscapes, and neighborhoods that are deemed worth saving are the result of a social conversation about who we are and what we value. It takes scholars, taste makers and everyday citizens to create a social consensus about what to save. For this reason, most preservation ordinances require 30-50 years to pass before sites are considered eligible for protection. And not everything gets saved.

Stanley William Hayter – a video from Baltimore

The Baltimore Museum of Art has started a video series of their curators spotlighting their favorite works of art in the collection. Each video is around 5 minutes long. This one features an etching by Stanley William Hayter, a leading figure in 20th century European and American printmaking.

Hayter explored automatic drawing and surrealist techniques in composing his prints. In “Untitled (no. 6 from The Apocalypse)”, 193, he overlays a drawing of a hand onto an image of the void inside a clinched fist. He creates the image of the hand  using engraving to gouge a heavy curving line. He represents the void inside a fist as a solid form, rendered in drypoint. Enjoy!

Learn One-of-a-Kind Screenprints at Fleisher Art Memorial

Students making screenprint monoprints at Fleisher Art Memorial.

Students making screenprint monoprints at Fleisher Art Memorial.

Would you like to learn more about monoprinting, the painterly approach to screen prints? This is a fun, versatile and quick form of printmaking that combines the spontaneity of painting and drawing with the process of printmaking. You’ll add textures to your images and learn to paint directly onto the screen, using color inks, watercolors and even acrylic paint. Our studio uses non-toxic water-based inks and cleaning techniques.

The class meets for four weeks, starting Tuesday, February 10, 2015 through Tuesday, March 03, 2015. We meet 10:00 AM-1:00 PM EDT.

Tuition: $125.00
Member Tuition: $100.00
Studio Fee: $25.00

All levels welcome.

Here’s an album of prints made by students in the class in previous sessions: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wdb3b/sets/72157648642506299/

Registration starts Monday, November 3.  For more information, visit the website: http://reg137.imperisoft.com/Fleisher/ProgramDetail/3336343030/Registration.aspx

Inga Saffron shows the Barnes some love

The Barnes Foundation stairway, courtesy Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

The Barnes Foundation stairway, courtesy Tod Williams Billie Tsien Arcitects

Inga Saffron, Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about the stairwell at the Barnes Foundation, designed by Tod Williams & Billiie Tsien Architects. They are masterful architects, who took on a difficult job in designing new galleries for the Barnes when the collection was moved from the Paul Cret designed building in Merion to Center CIty Philadelphia. I’m glad to see Inga point out one of the grace notes that makes Williams & Tsien’s work so special. Read the piece here: http://articles.philly.com/2014-10-19/news/55201485_1_staircase-stairwell-procession

Inga has started writing short pieces in the Sunday arts section about small things well designed that make life better.

Rebecca Gilbert at EA/B Fair in New York

Rebecca Gilbert Safe Keeping Place, 2011 Reduction and Multiple Block Woodcut 17.5 x 25.5 inches Edition of 6

Rebecca Gilbert
Safe Keeping Place, 2011
Reduction and Multiple Block Woodcut
17.5 x 25.5 inches
Edition of 6

Rebecca Gilbert’s work will be presented at the Editions/Artists Books Fair by The Print Center. Rebecca is a printmaker who makes layered woodcuts and print installations. The Print Center, the premier print venue in Philadelphia, “encourages the growth and understanding of photography and printmaking as vital contemporary arts through exhibitions, publications and educational programs.” – from Print Center website

“Editions/Artists’ Books Fair (E/AB) is New York’s premier showcase for contemporary publishers and dealers, presenting the latest and greatest in prints, multiples, and artists’ books.” From E/EB wesite

The fair is free to the public, in order to attract a broad public to print arts.  This year’s fair is is curated by Faye Hirsch, Contributing Editor, Art in America. 40 exhibitors from around the US and Europe will be present at the recently renovated Art Beam building at 540 W. 21st Street in New York’s Chelsea.

The Fair will take place November 6 – 9 during New York’s Print Week, to coincide with IFPDA’s Print Fair, and dozens of special exhibitions, talks, and workshops throughout the city.