Fit to print
Serigraph: stencil. Lithograph: oil & water don’t mix. Relief: carved away. Intaglio: recessed or etched in.
If reading these simple explanations doesn’t quite curb that quiet curiosity you’ve had about the medium of printmaking, well who could blame you? There’s a lot to know.
Be aware that the Printmakers’ Conspiracy might not enlighten you upon first initiation unless you arrive properly armed. The weapon of choice—as this show’s name might imply—is knowledge. A little knowledge gained via Google or passed on from someone steeped in printmaking lore can give you the best experience when standing in front of this understated art form.
A basic definition of the four previously mentioned printmaking terms can explain a lot: Serigraph, Lithograph, Relief and Intaglio. The differences lie in the way ink is applied to paper. Dividing printmaking into these four most elemental forms has helped printmakers distinguish the varied ways to print.
Digital printing or “giclee” (zhee-CLAY) is not generally included in this grouping, as it is such a different way to print and doesn’t involve any of the traditional techniques. But the current show at Truckee Meadows Community College proves that purity, at least in the printmaking world, is not sacred; the computer was used in the work of at least a few of these conspirators.
“There’s a word for it—Tradigital,” says curator/artist/ TMCC instructor Nolan Preece about mixing traditional and newer computer-aided tools to make artwork.
Preece’s selected work includes approximately 15 examples of art, steering away from the show’s most predominant color of black. His prints feature black ink, too, but only as a back-up to the sizzling colors bursting forth, such as in the abstractions of Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky. The work slows down later to include surprising detail, illustrating fantastical creatures created with a hand scanner and a mirror then grafted onto the print in a technique called chine-collé. The term refers to China because the thin paper used in the printing originally came from there.
Preece, one of the show’s organizers, is one of two artists singled out for mini-solo shows at the Red Mountain Gallery next to the Photo/Print Gallery.
The other featured artist is Stephen LeWinter from Hixson, Tenn. He likes to work with solar plates in a non-toxic technique involving photography and the sun or any powerful batch of UV rays to expose the image onto paper.
LeWinter’s work contrasts with Preece’s by being small, black, photo-based and nostalgic. Seemingly aged buildings and rustic settings inhabit this lonely group of prints. Their un-crisp, old appearance is an illusion brought on by the process’s resultant imperfections.
Zoltan Janvary, whose print work currently shows in Taiwan, Romania and Belfast, contributes the very crisp “The War Series: The Turk"—an accurate likeness of fellow Riverside Artist Loft resident and Sierra Arts volunteer Ezzy Dane posing as, yep, a Turk.
Keenly engraved draftsmanship draws you in with imagery pointing to antiquity but with a surreal feel. (Think Titian meets Dali.) The puzzling etched calligraphy found on Janvary’s prints is in his native Hungarian, but it speaks only to composition and possibly reflects a fondness for lost knowledge, as even Janvary can’t always read the words in the finished print.
But it’s this show’s contention that knowledge lets you in on the conspiracy, and now, maybe you can be part of it, too.