Friday, October 30, 2009

Made the Paper!

ART REVIEW : All about the print — In its 16th annual Juried Open Show at the Faulkner Art Gallery, S.B. Printmakers presents a varied lot of work

October 30, 2009 12:00 AM

When: ends today
Where: Faulkner Gallery East, Central Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday
Information: 564-5608,,

Printmakers need love and exposure, too. The wide and varied world of printmaking tends to get spotty public forums in the art gallery scene, in Santa Barbara and beyond, which makes at least the annual Printmakers show at the Faulkner Gallery something special. The current 16th annual affair, run by the ongoing umbrella organization Santa Barbara Printmakers, offers plenty of reasons for a look.

This year's selection, curated by juror Gordon T. Fuglie, is an especially strong and interestingly varied sampler of regional printmaking work being done. Familiar artists from around town, and from various media affiliations, include Anthony Askew, Nicole Strasburg, Siu Zimmerman, Barb Parmet and former Santa Barbara City College teacher Pamela Zwehl-Burke.
Zwehl-Burke's art has been taking some intriguing turns of late, as seen in a floral-based show at the Elverhoj Museum and with two pieces in this show, tethered to an anti-racist theme. Her solar intaglio pieces, including "There never was a 'POLAK,'" bring together vintage mug shots and other texts in a format suggesting ersatz agitprop, aimed at a positive agenda.

First prize was given to David Graves, whose work — as well as that of Askew and Zimmerman — was also seen in another recent printmaking group show at the Santa Barbara Tennis Club (a recent addition to the map of art venues in the area). With a light-spirited charm evoking design aesthetics of the '50s, Graves flings bubbly linear elements on pale color grounds, a pale green shade being the grounding hue of choice in his prize-winning "Kinfusion."

Compared to brighter, bigger and visually louder artistic avenues, printmakers are often dealing in subtle areas of expression, with understated manners and methods. From the beholder's perspective, that often translates to closer scrutiny of the work. Nina Warner's "Drift," for example, is a compact little vertical abstraction, laid out in muted gray tones, but it reveals a quiet inner life to those who care to look.
Though much larger in overall scale, Garrett Spiers' mosaic-like composite of small blossom and plant images, "Nothing Being Equal," similarly presents its case in understated, enigmatic shades of gray. Carolyn Hubbs' "Santa Monica" goes alluringly dark, as well, offering an almost film noir-flavored street corner ambience, and Monica Wiesblott's solar etching "Only the Sound of my Breath" is a foggy view down a country road, validating the title's poetic ambiguity.

Different angles on landscape — the soft-edged textures of Karyn Walsh's "Fallow Fields" and the harder-
edged, Japanese woodcut-inspired "Angel's Landing" — are placed side by side in the show, as if to present a study in contrasts. In other directions, Teresa Zepeda's silkscreen piece "Fair Lights" is a loose, impressionistic take on shimmering lights promising distant merriment in the night.

One clever creation off in its own expressive corner, compared to the rest of the exhibition, is Bob Mask's "French Bath + Landscape," a three-colored screen print, with plenty of white space — the better for the eye to breathe. A large, unclad woman's backside, post-bath, looms and floats in a pictorial space with a fragment of yonder landscape outside a cock-eyed window, in a scene fit for a post-Matisse dream.
All in all, the 16th annual exhibition comes together nicely by spreading out its vantage points, as befits a medium made up of multiple sub-mediums. The show confirms the idea that printmaking is alive, well and creatively fired in our area code.

Carolyn Hubbs' "Santa Monica" joins an eclectic mix of prints at the 16th annual Printmakers show at the Faulkner Gallery.

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