Prints are not what they used to be. Not that artists do not still make etchings, lithographs and silkscreen prints, but what they do with these and other print media - often in inventive and never-before-thought-of combinations and employing new digital technologies - can be like nothing ever before seen.
Frank Janzen makes prints using smoke, Dionne Haroutounian combines print media and collage in ways that are almost indefinable, and Janet Marcavage creates sparkling optical prints using traditional media. These are but a few of the new and exciting works by Northwest printmakers to be seen in the new exhibition "Ink This! - Print Arts in the Northwest" at Tacoma Art Museum.
>>> Barb Tenenbaum and Julie Chen, "Glimpse," photopolymer plate, found images, woodblock, wire, and handset type, box with magnetic closure, box size (when closed) 8 1/8 x 11 3/4 x 1 1/8 inches. Collection of the artist.
This survey of Northwest printmakers opening June 7 includes approximately 85 works of art by more than 70 talented Northwest print artists. Included are works by Rick Bartow, Ben Beres, Amanda Knowles, Susan Lowdermilk, Rae Mahaffey, Hibiki Miyazaki, Tyna Ontko, Barbara Robertson, Charles Spitzack, Jessica Spring, Christy Wyckoff, plus Janzen, Haroutounian, Marcavage and many others.
Let's look at just one of these as an example. Marcavage, who teaches art at University of Puget Sound, puts together bands of color that seem to fold and pulse and optically rise off the wall. "My hand-pulled screenprints on paper reference the topography of lines following the form of fabric. In this work I draw relationships between the process of weaving and the underlying construction of line-mapped imagery," she states on her website janet marcavage.com.
>>> Laura Ross-Paul, "tree and Figure #11," 2013. Monotype, 25 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches. Courtesy of Froelick Gallery, Portalnd, Oregon.
Other works in the exhibition showcase a wide variety of printmaking techniques, from traditional print media to installation and digital media. It includes letterpress artists and artists who create handmade books that are in essence small sculptures. A museum spokesperson says there is a surprising variety of creative technique and tools that question the definition of print in contemporary art practice, and how that definition is challenged as artists push the boundaries of the medium.
Throughout the 20th century and continuing into the 21st, print art has been a strong part of the Northwest art scene. The museum states that "print arts are as indicative of the Pacific Northwest's artistic identity as salmon and microbrew are identified with regional food culture."
"The contemporary print arts community in the Northwest is both lively and varied and incredibly supportive of individual expression," says curator Margaret Bullock, sharing her enthusiasm about the show. "While working on this exhibition I got to see etchings that could have been made centuries ago alongside works that combine printmaking with new technology and everything in between. I also got to meet a group of artists who were as excited about the work of other printmakers as they were their own, even if they were worlds apart in their interests and aesthetics. I hope that ‘Ink This!' will surprise, excite, and inspire while honoring the creativity and enthusiasm that make the print arts a rich and vital part of the Northwest art community."
As Volcano editor Pappi Swarner stated last week, microbrewing is another outstanding Northwest tradition, and Tacoma Art Museum has collaborated with Harmon Brewing Company to craft a signature ale, amusingly named "drINK THIS," a name which cleverly plays on the title of the exhibition. Harmon Brewing Co.'s co-owner Pat Nagel describes the IPA as having "bold flavors of orange, lemon and melon (that) give way to a crisp, clean and smooth finish." The ale will be available at special museum events, on tap at the Harmon's four restaurants, and sold in 20-ounce bottles at the museum's cafe.
Many related events will be held at the museum in conjunction with the show, including the "Lunch and Learn" series featuring discussions with curator Margaret Bullock on Wednesday June 4 at 11 a.m. Additional programs and events will be announced on the museum's website at www.TacomaArtMuseum.org.
"INK THIS!," 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, June 7-Nov. 9, Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, $8-$10, 253.272.4258