Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Print Club at 80

Satan's Camaro
a printmaking collective
at the Lockhart Gallery
in The Memorial Art Gallery
part of an exhibition
 The Print Club of Rochester's
80th anniversary

The Print Club at 80

Walk down the hall to the Lockhart Gallery inside The Memorial Art Gallery this winter and inspect the works on paper.  No, this is not a show of octogenarian book collectors, it is an exhibition titled "Great Impressions" honoring The Print Club of Rochester as it turns 80 years old.  The Print Club is dedicated to fine art printmaking and fosters interest from artists, print collectors and students of this widely varied artform.  It also sponsors, through membership dues, the creation of signed limited edition hand pulled prints that are among the benefits of joining this engaging group.

Of course there are other art clubs in the city of Rochester, but none have such a specific focus, as you will see from this show.  "Great Impressions" is made up of 33 presentation prints which were selected to represent various techniques and highlight the accomplishments of some of this country's greatest printmaking artists.

I guess it is fair to disclose that I have been on the board of The Print Club for a number of years, and I have worked hard to raise the level of recognition for printmaking through my art, and through my work for this non-profit organization.

A new generation of artists is coming up to rejuvenate printmaking, -witness the materials in the vitrine around the back of the show and read all about Satan's Camaro.  Here,  techniques used to make their prints are as delicate as smoke and as hard hitting as a steamroller (no, literally!).

It is not easy to summarize this small show, and as the sign says in front, it is almost impossible to define printmaking today.  Traditional printmaking usually employs an artist who creates an original image on a block or a plate that is then transferred onto paper or other substrate, but that would leave out silk-screen, photogravure, Solarplates, and much more.

"Great Impressions" is not a tutorial on how prints are made, but rather a greatest hits show of beautiful art that can be had for the price of a membership.  You can start a collection on a tight budget and still get world-class art for your home or office.

Some of the artists you will encounter go back to the initial days of The Print Club.  Thomas Nason and Henry C. Pitz may not be familiar names to the gallery goer, but one of my favorites, James D. Havens should be known to a wider audience especially for his wonderful woodblock print " Blackberries".

In the early years of The Print Club, most prints - etchings or wood engravings were printed with black inks on white paper and Claire Leighton's "Cotton Pickers" is a good example of this.  If the artist had a particular knack for a medium like lithography you might find evocative light and shadow, giving a print graphic impact in a work like "Adirondack Cabin" by Rockwell Kent.  Today, art by Rockwell Kent is among the icons of early 20th century American art.  But it is hard to predict whose art will be elevated to this status - you just have to look for the gems among this collection.

Among the prints on view you will find major names in the field like Clare Romano who wrote a book with her husband John Ross called "The Complete Printmaker" (it was her artwork that got me started making prints when I was ten).  Our local talents are not left out of the show and you will find a colorful photo lithograph by Joan Lyons, and graven images by Ron Netsky and Jerome Witkin in the Lockhart Gallery show.

The Print Club has commissioned modern artists to make an edition each year to be distributed to club members, and some recent highlights include Carol Wax's mezzotint,  Gregory Amenoff''s print "Arcadia" and Paul Resika's color etching of a boathouse.  Seeing this bounty of terrific images makes me want to know more about each artist's work, and maybe even take one home to hang on my wall.
If you want to know more about The Print Club look at the web site:

Take a look at this new resource: