Print Show Highlights Work of Michigan Artists
The state of printmaking is “still strong in Michigan,” according to
juror and Ithaca native Michael Barnes after viewing the 28th Annual
Alma College Statewide Print Competition.
“Nationally, printmaking has gone through a lot of changes, with digital technologies and a variety of mediums incorporating into the pieces,” said Barnes. “The definition of printmaking is very broad, and this year’s show represents that broad definition.”
The show is on display in the Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery in the Clack Art Center at Alma College through Dec. 10. Admission is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Best of show: "Repose" by Mary Brodbeck
Barnes, associate professor and head of the printmaking area at
Northern Illinois University, viewed 98 prints submitted by 36 Michigan
artists. He found a wide range of mediums and printmaking processes,
including woodcuts, serigraphs, monotypes with digital images,
lithographs, intaglio, mixed media, and more.
A 1991 graduate of Alma College, Barnes returned to his alma mater for the first time as juror of the annual competition.
“This print show at Alma College is what got me excited about printmaking as a student,” said Barnes, a former “best of show” winner at Alma. “Every year the art department brought in jurors who really inspired me to do printmaking.”
Barnes has exhibited his own works nationally and internationally. A collection of 14 lithographs by Barnes, representing what he calls “bits and pieces of sub-conscious thoughts and drawings that have accumulated in my sketchbook,” is on display in the Clack Art Center adjacent to the Beck Gallery.
This year’s print show features 38 prints representing the works of 18 Michigan artists. Barnes selected four prints for purchases awards and one honorable mention, with an eye toward skill of execution and thoughtful concepts of imagery.
The $1,000 Kent Kirby Memorial Award for Best of Show went to Mary Brodbeck of Kalamazoo for her woodblock prints “Empire,” Repose” and “Felled.” The series of images depicts natural scenes along the sands and eastern coastline of Lake Michigan.
“The artist uses a water-based Japanese technique — an old very specialized process of printing —and she handles it beautifully,” said Barnes. “I love the simpleness of the composition. She has an acute sense of color choice.”
"Psalm 126: A Song of Ascents (Cedar Waxwing)" by John Bergmeier
The $800 Award from the President and Friends of Alma College
went to John Bergmeier of Pontiac for his serigraph print, “Psalm 126:
A Song of Ascents (Cedar Waxwing).” The silk screen print has biblical
references among its images and a picture of a cedar waxwing bird that
is marked by a bright crest and a yellow-tipped tail.
Barnes acknowledged the “poetic sense” of the piece and the appropriation of both contemporary and historical images. “It’s an example of a post-modern approach to printmaking,” he said.
The $400 Alumni Purchase Award went to Earl Elowski of East Tawas for a transfer print, mixed media piece titled “Taking Lambs to Market.” The print illustrates a drawing of a pickup truck hauling a trailer of lambs to market for slaughter.
“I like the combination of media he uses,” said Barnes. “It is one of a series of pieces that references the livestock industry, using storytelling as commentary on their slaughter.”
The $300 Luis Norberto Lopez Isnardi Memorial Award went to Tim Gralewski of Royal Oak for his screen print titled “Deconstructing Man.” The colorful image of a man in suit and tie with bright red hands, pipe and hat is set around words in the background. Barnes referred to it as a “quiet, academic” piece.
“There’s an historical feel to it that seems to represent abstract impressions of the 1950s and ‘60s, with color scheme and references to the deconstructionist movement in art,” he said.
Barnes also awarded an Honorable Mention to Brett Colley of Grand Rapids for “Targets of Opportunity,” a multi-block relief print using linoleum cuts showing a collage of images of political leaders and icons of oil and gasoline companies.
“I enjoy his aggressive political commentary,” said Barnes. “It’s an inventive way to collage the images. It’s political art, which to a certain extent never gets old. There’s a playfulness to this, almost like a children’s comic book feel — a more aggressive in-your-face approach.”
Posted: Mon, November 24th, 2008 at 8:26AM