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Art: Susan Jaworski-Stranc
Neighbors

I’m on the email list of 13 Forest Gallery in Arlington, Mass. The first time I went there, the owner enlivened his art opening with guest opera singers.

This time, he had a printmaker demonstrate a type of linoleum printing that Picasso dubbed “suicide” printmaking. Others use the word “reduction” instead of “suicide.”

When I tell you how the work is done, you will understand why Picasso felt as he did.

Instead of carving, say, four different blocks for a four-color print, the artist uses only one block. A mistake at one stage can end the whole project.

Lowell resident Susan Jaworski-Stranc has been doing reduction linoleum printmaking for more than 30 years. As the website for 13 Forest explains, “with each layer, you carve more of the block away — so once a layer has been printed and you start carving for the next layer, there’s no going back.”

The artist herself says, “After each successive printing of a color, the surface of the block is reduced while at the same time the printing surface is built up with multi-layered colors. Born from one block of linoleum, my relief prints have the nuance and rich textural surfaces of an oil painting.

“Although Picasso coined this method of working a ‘suicide print,’ I rather think of this printmaking process as emulating the journey of life. While creating my prints, I am never able to re-visit past stages. I can only proceed forward with the acceptance of all good and not so good choices which were mediated and acted upon with the hope and joy of completion.”

On August 13, the gallery was packed as Jaworski-Stranc demonstrated. Many in the audience were experienced printmakers who asked intelligent questions that showed the rest of us what sorts of issues matter to artists.

One person asked if Jaworski-Stranc knew what the picture was supposed to look like in advance, and she explained that she started with a detailed drawing. Another artist wanted to know if the colors of Jaworski-Stranc’s very first reduction print (which she showed us) were what she anticipated.

The artist laughed, holding up that print. “Are you kidding? How would I ever think up a color like this!?”

Clearly, despite all the careful planning that goes into a print, Jaworski-Stranc relishes the beauty of randomness.

More here.

Art: Susan Jaworski-Stranc
Coastal Forces at Sunset

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We watched a couple unusual documentaries last night and last weekend. Often by the time films are available on Netflix, all I remember about the review is that someone highly recommended them. I know only that we will get a big surprise.

“Marwencol” and “Waste Land” were amazing surprises. They turned out to have something in common, too — the idea that art can lift people from despair, help them see things in a way that opens up their world. What was different between the movies was that for the troubled guy who created art in “Marwencol,” showing his work in a NYC gallery is quite beside the point of his healing process and probably the last thing he needs.

The movie is beautifully executed, but one has the sense that the young filmmakers who think the protagonist will benefit from the big-time art world don’t understand psychology very well.

The protagonist of “Waste Land,” successful Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, although equally idealistic, understands his subjects better, having experienced a life similar to theirs in his impoverished childhood. He decides to combine an art project with helping “garbage pickers” in the world’s biggest landfill, in Rio. Getting to know a few of the workers really well, he develops tremendous admiration for them and their deep dignity. He pays a few to work with him on giant portraits on themselves, portraits that play on the themes of some famous paintings. They use recyclables to complete the images, which are then photographed and shown in galleries and at auction. The proceeds come back to the people and help them both individually and collectively.

But the biggest transformation is not monetary but rather what Vik anticipated based on his own life experience — that by seeing things in a new way, they would get new ideas about themselves and their possibilities.

 

 

 

 

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