Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Call Me Print 1/6

The printmaking show at the VMFA "A Celebration of Print: 500 Years of Graphic Art" could be said to have a companion show just down the street. Its artists are just a tad younger, though.

"VCU Printmakers Represent" at Studio Two Three on Main Street  is showing a terrific selection of print works from students at VCU. There's an array of techniques employed and the sizes vary from smaller than a dollar bill to quite large, but it's a major statement about the flourishing state of printmaking in Richmond.

Samon Tha Belcher's "This is Powhatan County," a lithograph, is an elaborate composition containing a chief's head in full headdress, suburban-looking houses, fish, roadway overpasses, and a hawk. It's a magnificent statement on everything the county was and is in black and white.

"Parallel Shore" by Meredith Cosier looks like  mixed media piece but is actually an intaglio, the preferred printmaking technique for postage stamps and paper money.

Probably the most labor-intensive piece in the show was Stephen Fuss' "Through the Murky Darkness," an etching that could easily be mistaken for a luminous watercolor.

An image of a rearing horse in shades of blue with a pale brown wash fill one side and a page of words the other, with a break that says "Silence." Knowing that words have to be engraved on the plate backwards to read correctly when printed, I couldn't  imagine the painstaking work involved in the beautiful piece as I looked at it.

Post-modern sentiment showed itself on Claire!'s large piece, on which the words "I know how you feel, one time something inconsequential happened to me too" marched across the images.

Several pieces had sold on opening night last Friday because, let's face it, in the art collecting world, prints are a steal of a deal. Naturally I fell in love with a piece that already had a little red dot next to it. Just as I was trying to convince myself that I shouldn't be buying art anyway, the printmaking gods smacked me upside the head.

Matthew Becker's "What" was clearly indicated as 1/5. So the first print of the series had been sold, but surely others were available. Such is the nature of printmaking.

And I'm certainly not obsessed with number one. I'd be happy to own 2/5 or even 3/5.

Some things get better over the course of repeated efforts.

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