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ARTLINK 30th Annual National Print Exhibition

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader


Once again, Artlink is pulling out all of the stops with its 30th Annual National Print Exhibition. The exhibition has the loyal and generous support of the Lincoln Financial Foundation, allowing Artlink to create an unparalleled exhibition of printmaking that includes a small catalogue of works, and over $2,200 in cash awards.

While tracking this show over the last five years or more, there have been a number of regular printmakers coming and going. The quality of work has progressed from year to year, usually staying somewhat comparable to the last and always being my most anticipated exhibition on Artlink's schedule. Without a doubt, the 30th Annual National Print Exhibition is the best yet. In the quality of work, the large number of quality pieces, the choices for award winners, and overall feel of the pieces chosen, this exhibition stands out. Partly this is because of the exhibition's long history of being a quality show for artist's to apply for (it has a low entry fee, and a large number of medium range prizes). More so, the quality of this year's exhibition is the result of its guest curator, Claudia Berlinski, a printmaker, professor, and independent curator from Youngstown, OH. Berlinksi is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Myers School of Art with the University of Akron, and in addition to curating, was also the award selector for this year's print exhibition.

In viewing the entire exhibition, there were a number of knock out pieces which immediately grabbed the viewer's attention. Bill Hosterman's work including "Locus, "Current," and the award winning "Reach" were some of the most technically amazing pieces in the exhibition, containing incredibly dense, layered, and organic designs. These rather large etchings were meticulously crafted over hours upon hours, and the final image shows the effective pay-off for all of that hard work. Hosterman, of Coopersville, MI, presented pieces that take control of the viewer through the shear amount of visual information presented, and keeps them occupied through the strong abstracted compositions.

Kathy L. McGhee's exquisite large scale linoleum relief print, "Cemetery", was also a treat with its simplicity and scale. McGhee, of Galloway, OH. In contrast to Hosterman's work, McGhee's image is constructed of three layers, black, white, and gray, and utilizes intricate shapes and silhouettes to provide the viewer an expansive landscape, populated with foliage, sculptures, and cemetery architecture. Also working in a relief style, and in the grayscale, was Edie Overturf, of Carbondale IL with the peculiar piece, "The First Date". This beautiful woodcut includes a great deal of white space, the use of wood grain as a pattern, and an attractive use of stippling, hatching, and solids to create all of the forms in the piece. The composition, when taken into consideration with the title is odd, in that it depicts a somewhat sterile images of a woman seated leisurely on a laid out blanket on the ground, accompanied by the solid black silhouette of a rabbit, standing upright on its hind legs, with a banner tagged up in the sky reading "Quando Omni Flunkus Moritatus."-translated, this reads "When all else fails, play dead." Because of the piece's composition and visual style, "The First Date" almost takes on the flavor of an illustrated parable. Without a doubt, both of these artists, McGhee and Overturf display the wealth of diversity which relief prints can allow, with the artist at the helm of every speck of information, and in complete control of line quality and composition.

Natalia Moroz of Waxhaw, NC also utilized relief techniques in her "In the Cinema" set of images with the award winning "It's a Wonderful Life", and "The Big Sleep". In these two intimate reduction linocut prints, Moroz uses subtle colors and an acute sense of perspective to create scenes of movie theater's from the view of the movie, looking back at the audience. Moroz depicts the audience as restless, sleeping, preoccupied, alone, and through the application of her muted colors, somewhat lifeless.

Standing out the most, was the work of Sean P. Morrissey, of Lincoln, NE, who has presented two pieces in the National Print Exhibition, "Ok, Corbusier" and "Different Area Codes". These two pieces are architectural screenprints of moderate to large size, which use color in a Hoffmanian sense, to create incredibly active compositions. Morissey's work has a great deal of visual reference to the work of Julie Mehretu who also has an architectural basis to her images, though Morissey's work is much more composed and meditative. "Ok, Corbusier" being larger and with a somewhat eastern feel to it also includes graphite, making it a monoprint (a unique piece, like a drawing, made with printmaking techniques). With its title referencing it to the great architect, Le Corbusier whose work was devoid of embellishment, and its large white swath cutting through the composition, Morrissey seems to have a conceptual practice in his printmaking, through architectural history.

In addition to the artists mentioned above, other notable artists include Zach Stenson's lithograph "Shale Pit", Ella Weber's lithograph's "Crunch Time" and Popeye in a Box", Joshua Witten's etching "Dog on a Leash", and Juergen Strunck's gorgeous trio of ink reliefs on japanese paper, "JFF-7", "JFF-10", and "JFF-12". This incredible collection of fine prints in the 30th Annual National Print Exhibition showcases Artlink as an important place for the arts in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana, and represents its influence, by attracting such a great collection of national artists as these.

The 30th Annual National Print Exhibition runs from April 16th-May 26, 2010.

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