Brooklyn woodcut artist and SGC Take Over-er Dennis McNett has set his sights on a new dragon to slay: the world of fashion... or at least the world of fashion window displays.
McNett just installed 50 feet's worth of block print madness inside the windows of Barney's on Madison Avenue, between 60th and 61st Streets. The installation includes several of McNett's huge banner prints of patterns and creatures inspired by the high-energy of the late 80's punk and hardcore music. Along with the insanely intricate relief prints, he's designed several masks: animals, skulls, animal skulls, wolves, bats, and of course, WolfBats.
There's something really strange yet completely appropriate about the combination of stark white-emaciated mannequins dressed in high end fashion with these intense renderings of crazed beasts and other imagery inspired by mythology, punk rock, and skateboarding. They seem to be total opposites on paper, yet complement each other beautifully when seen in person.
Speaking of in person, word on the street is to check these windows out at night for the full effect, as they've been professionally lit. Check out more of Dennis McNett at wolfbat.com.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Brooklyn woodcut artist and SGC Take Over-er Dennis McNett has set his sights on a new dragon to slay: the world of fashion... or at least the world of fashion window displays.
Monday, June 28, 2010
If you've been following Philagrafika at all, you know two things: we're all about pushing the boundaries of the capabilities of the printed image, and that one of our consistent allies is Cannonball Press, the Brooklyn-based collaboration of artists Mike Houston and Martin Mazorra. So naturally, when Cannonball Press comes up with a project like "Woodcut Thrillride", we take notice:
"...We’re combining hand-carved woodblock prints made on a 1938 Vandercook proof press with state-of-the-art 3D digital animation software. Old school meets new school in the inimitable Cannonball monochromatic style. We’re teaming up with acclaimed jazz saxophonist John Ellis, his band Double-Wide and accomplished animator Eric Knisley to create our own 3-minute long woodcut Petrushka."
The project does have it's obstacles, and as is an inevitability for any artist, that obstacle is lack of funds. Cannonball is seeking $3500 by August 31 in order to produce the video, and they need your help.
Of course, it's not like Cannonball Press to take your money without giving back, so for your contribution, you will receive "perks" that correspond to your level of donation: For a $20 donation, you'll get a signed copy of John Ellis's album "Puppet Mischief." For $30, you reveive a Double-Wide letterpress playbill, for $40 a Double-Wide letterpress broadside and for $60, a souzasaxophone 3-color woodcut. Everyone wins.
For more about the project, and to donate, visit http://projectsite.unitedstatesartists.org/project/woodcut_thrillride_animation
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
by Marianne Bernstein
If you haven't met the two K's of Silicon Gallery yet, you're missing out on a big treat. Don't be fooled by their age (20's) or total adorableness--they are the backbone of this esteemed digital printmaking studio, a Mecca for Philadelphia artists and printmakers. Kaitlin Mosley and Katie Tackman are also excellent photographers and, like horses at a racetrack, are pawing at the gate ready for a big breakout. I've watched their evolution over the years, first at Silicon, marveling at their patience and printing expertise, and more recently as artists and friends. I believe they have discovered recently what many of us mid-career artists slowly figure out-- that encouraging one's friends and contemporaries oftentimes is exactly what's needed to take oneself as an artist more seriously, to be less self-critical, while moving forward...
Kaitlin and KT's photographs share many qualities. They both shoot film. Mostly set in natural settings, with water nearby, each image can be read as both a portrait and a landscape. They are serene, timeless, and nostalgic. The viewer often feels as if they have stumbled upon a private moment, a Cartier-Bresson "decisive moment" of harmony and balance, which a second later will change completely.
Recently I spoke with them about their work:
MB: When did you first pick up a camera and why? What did you photograph?
KAITLIN: I don’t remember the first picture I ever took, but guessing by the age of my siblings in the photos I must have been around 7. I still have copies of the photos I took of my sisters standing on my bed posing for glamour shots that I styled. They couldn’t have been more than 5. My mom was always photographing us (I am one of 5 kids, have a twin brother, two sisters who are 1 and ½ years younger than me and then a single sister who is 6 years younger than me.) and one of our favorite things to do would be to sit on the couch and look at photo albums with my mom as she would point us out in the pictures, younger versions of ourselves. My first camera was either my pink Vivitar (110 film!) or the Kodak instamatic (210 film), then I moved on and learned how to load actual film myself.
KT: I started photographing in high school because I was kind of an outsider. Growing up in Connecticut was very different than my life is now. I was surrounded by people who were more concerned with money and a certain social status, which made me want to escape. But the amazing thing about growing up in New England was nature is always around you. I would escape to the water or the woods and photograph my observations. Some of my first Polaroid’s were taken in Connecticut and I still remember every scene from that day because taking photos widens my senses making me super aware of details.
MB: What do you photograph now- and why?
KAITLIN: I photograph my loved ones and the places we go, or the places I go. I prefer to shoot with my cameras, which are a Minolta x700 and my Yashika for medium format. It’s just what I know, and what I like and enjoy.
KT: I photograph now because it is one of the only things that excites me about life. I am a very quiet person so I think my photography gives me a platform to speak through my eyes. I also use photography as a way of meeting people when searching along the Schuylkill for subjects to photograph. I mainly use Polaroid and instant film because I love the immediacy and the colors it produces. I have started using sepia toned Polaroid and experimental film made by the Impossible Project, which is fun to experiment with and get a different effect each time.
MB: Which photographers have influenced you?
KAITLIN: Francesca Woodman, and Wynn Bullock.
KT: Hellen van Meene, Man Ray, and William Eggleston
MB: What are your other interests? Do they affect your photographs in any way?
KAITLIN: My interests are nature, family, and friends. I like getting out of the city and I like camping a whole lot. I like being with the people I care about. I wouldn’t be able to photograph strangers the way some people do.
KT: My two passions are photography and sailing which both give me a sense of freedom. I grew up sailing and worked on a Tall Ship for a year after graduating college. The ocean both excites and scares me at the same time. I would like to explore that idea through my photographs someday. I have also been known to rip it up on the basketball court, which really has nothing to do with photography but it is just as fun!
MB: How has working at Silicon affected your photography? Have you influenced one another?
KAITLIN: I have grown fond of color since I have been at Silicon. I was primarily into black and white, in the darkroom in college and working here has definitely influenced my appreciation of color. I think you could say that I am sensitive to color, which makes me a careful and good printer for others. I also care about others and what they want to achieve with their art, so I try to let myself be a bridge for them into this process.
KT: When I started working at Silicon I became immersed in the art scene in Philly. I have met so many artists but more importantly created relationships with them outside of work. We try to support all the artists who come into the shop and in turn they support all of our work. Kaitlin, Steven, Gus and I all go to each other’s shows and we are constantly talking about our ideas and our experiences creating art. Kaitlin and I look at each other’s work and give each other advice or tell each other about shows. I think it is interesting that we have a similar style of photography but before we even knew each other. Not really in subject or technique but in feeling. I try to make my photos look timeless and I think Kaitlin just does that naturally. I admire her for that and for the personal content in her work.
MB: If the sky were the limit, what would you be doing now?
KAITLIN: I would be camping, with my loved ones, preferably on the beach. And I would be taking pictures.
KT: I would like to be traveling, exploring in the Czech Republic. In college I studied abroad in Prague and traveled throughout the country. The escape from the regular academic lifestyle and traveling allowed me to photograph for fun again. I came back with some amazing photos, which I did not pre-visualize; they just came out of me while I was exploring the pools and lakes in the country. Now I try to recreate that same imagery that I saw there.
MB: Why is Silicon special to the Philadelphia print community? What is it that Silicon offers that you can't find elsewhere here?
KAITLIN: Silicon is the information Hub for the art scene in Philadelphia. We are involved with most projects and support most artists. We do our best to be accessible to all who have an interest and we help spread the word of what is going on to those new to the city who are interested in getting more involved in the arts. There is always a dialogue here and it is always about helping others achieve their goals and meet their challenges. I think we make a lot of people happy with what we do. We print for so many people from all around, from printing paintings from William Egglestons’s cousin somewhere outside of Memphis, Tennessee who was very happy to be working with a “Kaitlin, a good southern name”, to the local and fabulous Zoë Strauss, to whom I must say 143…
KT: I think Silicon is a place where artists can get high quality digital prints and work with people who actually care about the end product. We are all artists so we know how much work our customers put into their work, so we try to give the same amount. This shop is important to the Philly art community because it connects so many people. Rick does projects with Philagrafika, Fresh Artists, Cindy Ettinger, and many other local non-profits, usually as a favor or just to help support their causes. I admire that about this company and feel good about helping out other artists in the community. Also the late Dog was what made this shop different from others. He was our mascot and friend; we will miss him dearly!
Check them out. And thank you so much, Rick DeCoyte, Silicon Gallery and Fine Art Prints for all that you have done for the Philadelphia art community and for Philagrafika!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Museum of Modern Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Oakland Museum of California
With a purchase of a Summer Solstice 2010 ticket, you could add your name to this prestigious list by adding a Charles Fahlen piece to your collection!
While he is from San Francisco, and returned there a few years ago, artist and sculptor Charles Fahlen spent a large portion of his career right here in Philadelphia, leaving a trail of influential gallery and museum shows as well as several public sculptures in and around Center City.
His distinctly post-minimalist forms are simultaneously monumental and mundane, usually referencing the materials from which they were constructed - industrial items that are commonplace in most hardware or home improvement stores. His enigmatic works seem to transcend time - based on his materials and his construction is is difficult or impossible to correctly guess the date of his works without prior knowledge.
For Summer Solstice 2010, The Fabric Workshop and Museum donates a piece created in collaboration with Fahlen during his time as an Artist-in-Residence at the Workshop. Fresh Start is reminiscent of patterns typical of Southwestern American Indians, and somewhat resembles a woven Navajo Rug, even appearing to be woven. However, Fahlen plays with space on a flat object, breaking his pattern into three distinct sections, as if folded onto itself. Closer inspection proves that the pattern isn't woven at all, but masterfully screenprinted onto .75 inch thick industrial felt. Whether this piece is a tribute to these early American craftsmen or a statement on mass-production and commercialization of these ancient patterns is up to the viewer. Regardless, this is a "fresh" take on an iconic part of American craftsmanship, and like many prints is a perfect marriage of fine art and craft.
This piece is one of many other treasures waiting to be discovered and selected by attendees of Summer Solstice 2010. Check the Philagrafika website to find your favorites, and RSVP to own them!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
It would be quite an understatement to say that there is a lot of discussion about the place of printmaking in contemporary fine art practice. Philadelphia artist and Space 1026 member Alex Lukas is a fine example of the driving force behind Philagrafika 2010.
Some artists use print because they need to create hundreds of multiples. Others use print because of it's traditional role in art history. Still others use it because of it's allusions to media culture and history. There are plenty of reasons to use print in contemporary practice, but many, Alex Lukas included, use print because they just can't achieve their desired results through any other process. "I think there is a mis-conception that somehow incorporating printmaking into the process is a time-saver. It really isn’t... I need to use these methods to make the images I want."
Alex Lukas, UntitledLukas is referring here to the series of almost exclusively untitled images he calls the "disaster drawings". The drawings themselves are absolute wonders - mixed media compositions of scenes of urban decay, flooded cities, and deserted fields of rubble. They are masterfully crafted using watercolor, gouache, spraypaint and silkscreen that culminate in a very intriguing back-and-forth between illustration and photorealism that really makes the scenes come to life.
Alex Lukas, Untitled. Available at Summer Solstice 2010!
Lukas has donated one of these compositions, a flooded city scene, for Summer Solstice 2010. These drawings rely on Lukas's screenprinting chops. He takes scenes of cities usually torn straight from books, and layers them with various media. The buildings are painstakingly masked out, and then he begins a very scientific process: using a split fountain technique, testing and retesting colors, working with different size screen mesh and several other variables until the waters that rise to the tops of skyscrapers looks just right. For such morbid images, they are absurdly beautiful.
In addition to these drawings, Alex Lukas makes humorous posters inspired by comic book art, publishes zines through his company Cantab Publishing, and is the Philadelphia correspondent for San Francisco's excellent multidisciplinary art and culture website fecalface.com. Check out Alex at www.alexlukas.com and don't forget to RSVP for Summer Solstice 2010!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
By Marianne Bernstein
That being said, there are two Summer Solstice artists I know well who not only don’t care what others think of them (or their work) but have consistently pursued their art with a singular vision against all odds, simply because they need to create.
They don’t know each other, but share a lot in common. Both received Graduate degrees from the Yale School of Art- an institution which has influenced (I say that rather than “produced”) some amazing artists over the years, maybe because acceptance there is so competitive). They are also both extremely modest – wary of the commercial art world and the trappings of fame; they are the real deal…honest, kind, direct and unassuming, and extremely hard working. Their creativity is not a spigot that is turned on and off. They never stop being artists. Karen is a mother, teacher, gardener; Nicky is a surfer, carpenter, and musician. They breathe life into whatever it is they do.
Their prints and paintings are intricate, detailed, painstaking, requiring razor-sharp concentration and skill, methodical- produced by hands that are steady, unwavering, but with hearts full of passion, longing, and nostalgia for days when quality and skill actually mattered.
Karen Dow and Nicholas Santore graduated art school two years apart from one another (1998 and 2000, respectively). They have won prestigious awards, and each has had numerous solo and group shows. I have followed the careers of both over the past decade, and feel that they are at a critical juncture (as are many young artists) of needing financial support and encouragement from collectors and museums.
Nicholas Santore’s work is derived from a nostalgia for certain views, impressions and influences that he has observed and experienced at various times throughout his life. These include objects, figures, music, structures, patterns, colors and light specific to subject matter that is often dated, overlooked and/or neglected. The grid, pattern and seriality in his surroundings form the visual and compositional basis for his images, often exploring and distorting perspective, while constructing representational views- both invented and observed- which are realized from visual references, direct observations, memories and intuition.
Karen Dow’s inspiration “comes from home catalogs where fantasy, the geometry of modern architecture, and interior spaces reign. She finds beauty in these scenes and is able to break it down to its bare essence of color, line, patterns and space. Dow sees the beauty in everyday life, but knows that nothing is as it seems on the surface and when you break it down to its core, you begin to see a whole new world”.
Karen and Nicky mostly paint in oil, but also are printmakers. I was curious how their printmaking affected their paintings and vise versa. Always curious about artists’ process and influences, I asked each of them the same questions. Here are their answers:
MB: When did you realize you were an artist and why do you continue to make art?
Karen: Junior year of college, I became a potter. I continue to make art because I am an artist. I feel bad when I stop, and I feel great when I'm painting.
Nicky: After the first week of Grad school it felt legitimate to me …sometimes I feel like I'm chronicling points in time and views which are nostalgic and beautiful to me, and sometimes to honor some inner compulsion.
MB: Where did you grow up and what childhood influences shape your work?
Karen: I grew up in Buffalo, NY. I spent every Sunday having brunch at the Albright Knox Art Museum. There is a great collection of art from the 60's; giant color-field paintings, Warhols, Pollocks, it felt like home to me.
Nicky: Center City Philadelphia- my father and his work certainly influenced
me throughout my life, also the late 70's - early 80's era also informs much of my work
MB: Who (and what) has inspired and continues to inspire you?
Karen: My husband; painter Christopher Mir, teaching, and my children
Nicky: Valerie Ferus, family, Bowie
MB: Who are your favorite artists?
Karen: Josef and Anni Albers, Sol Lewitt, Mel Bochner, Agnes Martin, Gene Davis and Anne Truit. I love these artists for the way in which their art and their lives were/are fused. They all have an approach that is straightforward and uncomplicated. It feels very honest to me. I try to live up to this influence.
Nicky: Hard to pick a favorite but recently I've been looking at very early Lucien Freud, early David Hockney, Gregory Gillespie, Jean Prouve.
MB: What are your hobbies and how do they inform your work?
Karen: At first I was just going to say, "I am a teacher, mother of two and a painter! I don't have time for hobbies." Then I remembered I garden. I garden with a desire to bring beauty into my life. I organize my gardens in much the same way I organize my paintings. It brings me great joy to see things constantly changing and in need of tending and adjusting. It's always in process, and will never be finished.
Nicky: Basketball, surfing, music, yoga, vintage design, not really sure how these
connect with my work. I think music gets into my work the most.
MB: What would you like art collectors to know about you or supporting artists in general?
Karen: That living with works of art is wonderful and enriches you everyday. I have paintings and prints in my house that I look at every day. They bring me a constant sense of joy. I also see new things in these works when friends and family come into my home and remark on things they see in them. Living with art has had an impact on how I see the world since I was a child. It is important to me to see my work have a life in my collector's homes – that my paintings are lived with.
Nicky: If broken down hourly, I'm making less than minimum wage making my work.
Karen: I prefer etching and woodcut, both because they are so different from painting. The process is slow and completely different; subtractive rather than additive. The prints usually come after the paintings and are copies of images I have already made using a different process. This changes the images dramatically, but by using an image I have already made, I can focus solely on the process. (which is what I love about printmaking.)
Nicky: The process of making linoleum reduction prints changed the way I make paintings. The prints inherently need to be pre- planned from the drawing and composition to color choices. When I started approaching my paintings that way, I felt like I was connecting more with my subject matter, and leaving less up to chance. That's not to say that spontaneity was completely eliminated from the work…
Philagrafika chose its Summer Solstice artists very carefully this year. Each artist has immense talent, a singular vision, and a story to tell. My advice would be to come on June 23rd to Locks and choose someone whose work you respond to. Stay in touch with them. Encourage them, share yourself, be inspired, and give them the support they so much deserve. We are all in this together.
-marianne bernstein 6/16/10
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Today's featured artist is Richard Hricko, a Philadelphia-based artist, printmaker and sculptor.
Richard Hricko's influence is abundant in the Philadelphia art community. He's an educator, an Associate Professor of Art at Tyler School of Art, where he has held various faculty and administrative positions throughout the years. He's an artist, creating striking images in print, drawing and sculpture. He's also a founder of Crane Arts, one of the city's largest and most-reknowned arts communities, housing several galleries, artists studios, and arts-related businesses.
Richard Hricko has donated two works to the Summer Solstice Benefit: Aloe II (2001) and Ombre (2010).
RSVP today and take one home!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Mike Houston is one half of the revered press/collaborative Cannonball Press (part of Philagrafika 2010's Out of Print!), based in Brooklyn. In addition to his work with Martin Mazorra, the other half of Cannonball, Houston is an accomplished artist on his own, working predominantly in woodcut and letterpress.
Exquisitely rendered in an unmistakably relief-cut style, Houston's images are usually presented in a black-and-white, broadside style that recalls print advertisments. Indeed, several of his compositions are fake ads for items as diverse and silly as a plunge router that sports an LCD screen - presumably for watching Shrek while woodworking - to beers inspired by cat fishermen and embodiments of satan.
Baphomet & Chinkapin
Houston has donated a suite of ten (!) relief cut and letter press prints for Summer Solstice 2010 - Chinkapin, Noodler's Brew, Untitled, Baphomet, Hippy Pellets, Knee-High Moccasins, Plunge Router, We May be Slow..., Solid Oak Underwear, and Greedy Gus. This outstanding set of prints could be going home with you on June 23!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
From now until June 23, the day of Philagrafika's Summer Solstice 2010 Benefit, we will be previewing the work of a particular participating artist. First is Philadelphia artist and printmaker Amze Emmons.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
This year, the benefit will be held at Locks Gallery on Washington Square South. Locks has generously made available the use of their fabulous third-floor gallery and roof terrace, where guests will enjoy drinks, fine food, and music under the stars.
It's a great party, but it's really all about the art. Traditionally, this event features the work of some of the region's most accomplished artists working in print. Everyone who attends gets his or her name put in a bowl, and then drawn in a lottery. When your name is called, you select the print of your choice. Every attendee leaves with a significant piece of art under his or her arm! The value of each print greatly exceeds the $400 ticket price - a coup for those savvy enough to grab a ticket or two.
Alexandre Arrechea, Mississippi Bucket
This year's event offers something extraordinary: a snapshot of the wildly successful triennial Philagrafika 2010. Many of the artists contributing work for this Summer Solstice Benefit were also participants in the festival, and all three of its components will be well represented: The Graphic Unconscious, Out of Print, and Independent Projects. Included are prints by Carl Pope (who contributes the hilarious and now iconic image that served as the program guide's cover), Eric Avery, Regina Silveira, Matt Neff, Daniel Heyman, Virgil Marti, Enrique Chagoya, Jenny Schmid, Alexandre Arrechea, Miriam Singer, and Betsabe Romeo, to name just a few. You can see the full list, along with images, on Philagrafika's website.
Pablo Helguera, Came Summer and the Interest Grew
Walking into the gallery on June 23rd, guests will be treated to what is essentially a mini retrospective of the festival. With more than one hundred works in one space, it will be thrilling - if not dizzying! And if that weren't enough, each guest will choose a favorite print to take home! The only real question is: if you haven't bought your ticket yet, what are you waiting for?