Monday, July 14, 2014

Other People's Prints

Sam Gilliam, Jones Road II, 1972

Now on view at American University's sprawling art complex is Passionate Collectors: The Washington Print Club at 50. This ambitious show presents prints culled from local collections, including works by heavy hitters such as Durer, van Dyck, Carracci, Pissarro, Picasso and Chuck Close. DC Screen print fans will recognize two longtime locals Lou Stovall and Sam Gilliam's very different approaches to the medium, and devoted readers of this blog remember master printer Richard Estes's magnificent technical and multicolor skill. All the screen prints date from at least 20 years ago and represent the type of risk-taking already forming. Certainly Gilliam's free form textures explore concepts of random multilayering and experimental outcomes. And Indian artist Bhupen Khakhar's Lotus reads like a watercolor painting.

Richard Estes, Manhattan III, 1981

"Viewers will be surprised there are no dominating genres or periods or artists represented in this show, but rather a huge range of works that are national, international and local," said AU Museum Director and Curator Jack Rasmussen. "We share our location in the nation's capital with most international diplomatic missions to the United States. Washington is a community with diverse interests and affiliations and may well provide the most diverse group of collectors in the country."

Bhupen Khakhar, Lotus, 1993

Lou Stovall, American Beauty Two, 1986
Passionate Collectors: The Washington Print Club at 50
June 14 – August 17, 2014
Katzen Center at American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bern's Black Yard

Imagine being lucky enough to be on vacation in Switzerland, find yourself with some solo spare time, and the city of Bern at your doorstep. It was just this scenario that I stumbled across the bear bridge (as I called it), up an ancient avenue and happened upon this storefront sign. Now imagine how many seconds it took for me to boldly cross the threshold into the Black Yard.

Inside proprietor Silvio Brügger greeted me warmly, but my attention quickly diverted to the eclectic mix of old and new print technologies, art posters, vintage type and various other (cool) stuff in the space. I learned that Black Yard is a graphic design studio that specializes in custom illustration and bold solutions for their clients.

Silvio Brügger

As I weaseled my way further into the studio, another friendly designer and illustrator, Christian Calame came out from his desk. And still my eyes wandered around their amazing work space.

Silvio and Christian

After all the visual clues, I should have known: Black Yard does their own screen printing. In haus. This being Switzerland, their table fit into a small corner, is highly mechanized, and pumps out dead-on registration prints. Silvio was kind enough to follow up with information about their table, their work and his thoughts on screen printing. Since my visit, Black Yard seems to have migrated to selling their wares in an online shop. Give up those clients for marketing your own products? Nice work if you can get it, and it seems to be working.

The Table!

Marty: We are really interested in your vacuum table, which to me reflects the Swiss aptitude with precision. Did you make it, or is it made to purchase? Please explain how the printing mechanism works. (we’d love to have one here!)

Silvio: It is a screen printing table made in Switzerland in the '70s. there are still some around to buy on the internet. We even had contact with a dutch design school who printed on the same table and they had some difficulties and asked us for help. Also to find spare parts is quite easy, because most of them are standard mechanical (or ISO-norm) parts. The printing mechanism works quite easy. You have a frame that holds the screen in a horizontal position and can be lifted and lowered via counterweights by hand. The squeegee is mounted above the frame and can be moved from left to right. The table itself is punctuated with holes and attached to an vacuum pump which will be activated when you lower the frame on the table. These are the basics see the table in action here.

Marty: The Swiss culture has such a rich history in design, do you know if screen printing was present in any of the influential schools in the area, such as the Bauhaus?

Silvio: Well, the most design schools here has their own print atelier. But one of the influential screen printers in our area was Albin Uldry, he even printed for Andy Warhol.

Marty: Why are most of your posters in English?

Silvio: There are two reasons: First because Switzerland is a multi-lingual country with four languages, therefore English is the easiest way to communicate on posters. Second, because we are heavily influenced by American gig posters.

Marty: Who are some of your favorite artists pushing the screen print boundaries today?

Silvio: There are a lot great screen printers out there and I guess we even know a few. Worth a mention are Chuck Sperry, Serge Nidegger and the awesome Michael Hacker.

Marty: Thank you, Silvio, for your warm welcome and your interview for Screen print Society!

Detail of a poster screen printed at Black Yard.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Chinn Wang's Screenprints on Wood

The annual Southern Graphics Council conference was held this year in the San Francisco Bay Area. The best demonstration that I saw was by printmaker, Chinn Wang, who screen prints directly onto wood using the same process as for paper. To compensate for the raised printing surface, Chinn props up the screen by inserting a small piece of wood in each clamp under the screen (see red arrow in photo below). What a simple solution to needing more height under the screen! —Rebecca Katz

See Chinn's screen prints on wood here and here.

The small pieces of wood are the exact same height as the wood on which she is printing.
The shaped wood panels for Chinn's intricate installations are cut in advance of printing, and she uses exact registration. She is also a fan of CMYK for her color palette.

The demo took place at the University of California at Berkeley on March 28, 2014.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oh What Fun!

The Pyramid Atlantic annual members show, now on view at Washington Printmakers Gallery, features a host of unusual screen prints that push the boundaries. Becca Katz' fracking box (top, background) integrates the wood grain as part of the art, and Nancy Gurganus' hanging holiday card (above, inset) demonstrates how our chosen medium can create a small run boutique product. Clare Winslow's prize winning print Web (bottom, background) explores abstraction with scientific influences.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Delightful Differences

"Void", detail

January's Denbo fellowship artist was Corwin Levi. Along with his wife Yumi Blackwell, Corwin creates drawings, paintings, sculpture, and video that undulate and interweave, creep in to small spaces and pop out of paper. And so it was the flexible medium of screen printing that the artist wished to learn, to bring a strong saturation of color to his Void sculpture series. His enthusiasm for screen printing happened immediately:

Franc Rosario and Corwin Levi      
"Pyramid Atlantic offered me a Denbo fellowship for January, which I happily accepted. I have been making installations with a series of printed poems turned into three dimensional installations using a garden-variety inkjet printer, but was curious to see what I could do with screen printing instead. I immediately noticed a tremendous difference in the quality of the work. The screen prints were saturated with vibrant color, they had slight and delightful differences in each print, and their energy transformed the work. The fellowship not only offered me a chance to do screen printing but also introduced me to the medium with the help of talented technical assistant Emma Ringness. I plan on continuing these techniques and am excited to see how they look at an upcoming show in Portland, OR. The Denbo fellowship is a wonderful opportunity and screenprinting an equally amazing medium and they are both very much appreciated." —Corwin Levi

"Void" sculpture
Corwin's screen printed type spirals.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It's all in the Details

Shepard Fairey, Station to Station 1, Silkscreen and mixed media collage

Station to Station, detail
"Recent Editions", the current collection now on view at Pace Prints in the gallery-centric Chelsea neighborhood of New York includes three intricate large scale screen prints. The favorite of this blogger is bad boy, erstwhile graffiti artist Shepard Fairey, who deftly demonstrates his design chops and craftsmanship. His prints are layered with newspapers, icons, ephemera and ticket imagery, and then topped with his trademark red and black screen printing. While his Obama Hope poster is his most controversial and famous work, he shows to be a versatile and extraordinary printmaker.
Ryan McGinness, Dark Energy, Silkscreen
Dark Energy, detail

Ryan McGinness's spyrograph-inspired Dark Energy is certainly energetic, but definitely not dark. The extra large work (60" x 40") is a feat of precision and stitching—a kaleidoscope of multicolored whorled spirals and flourishes. We can't help wondering how many different screens were burned and pulls necessary to make this colossal work.

Kenny Scharf, FaceFacts yellow #1, Silkscreen with cast paper, hand-painting and Swarovski crystal
FaceFacts, detail

And finally, Kenny Scharf's buoyant piece— complete with 3D goofy kitsch—follows suit. His large print is replete with layered details of iconography of the 50s and 60s. A nice list of printmaking methods is included on Pace's website.



521 W. 26th Street
New York, NY

Monday, January 6, 2014

Animal Sightings

"Ting", excavated screenprint by Rebecca Katz

Our Screenprint Associate Becca Katz will be having her first solo exhibition in Baltimore this month. She says of the theme: "The world would be a kinder place if people had more respect for the animals with whom we share this earth. I want my artwork to convey thier capacity for intelligence and a full range of emotions and complex experiences."

Becca has been busy in the studio experimenting with new techniques, which she describes this way: "Remember "scratchboards", which entailed scraping black paint to reveal crayon colors beneath? I recently learned a similar concept—applying many layers of ink to paper coated with clear base, and then sanding the top layers to reveal the colors below. The final images are screened on the top layer. The result is a print that resembles a painting more than the flat graphic look associated with screen printing. I find this excavation process to be liberating because you don't know what you are going to get—so there's less pressure to aim for a specific result.

I am very excited for my first solo show which  resulted from participating in School 33 Art Center's Lotta Art fundraiser. Each year three artists from the event are selected to have a solo exhibit. It is also a fun evening—lottery style—every ticket holder goes home with a work of art. I have been lucky to work with Exhibitions Coordinator Rene Trevino who is also a terrific artist and screen printer." 

Congratulations, Becca! And thanks for your tireless service to Pyramid Atlantic by sharing your artistic wisdom at Screenprint Society.

Becca (center) and friends at the opening


Animal Sightings
Screen Prints by Rebecca Katz

January 17 - March 8, 2014
Opening Reception: January 17, 6-9 pm
1427 Light Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230