January 9 – January 24, 2020
Opening Reception Friday January 10, 6-8pm
Community Printmaking Sessions: Monday, January 13 and Thursday, January 16, 4pm – 6pm
The California Society of Printmakers returns to Davis Arts Center presenting the exhibition First Impressions. The exhibition includes 30 artists and features a wide range of printmaking techniques, from traditional processes to more experimental methods (including books and other 3d work). First Impressions refers to the first image pulled in the printmaking processes. Printmaking uses pressure applied with a press or by hand, to impress ink onto paper or another support. The exhibition title also refers to deeper themes examined by the artists. Some work, such as The First Contact by Shunsuke Ando and Aslı Sağlam’s Old Dreams in Present Tense show the “first impression” of meeting with a stranger. Sandy Walker’s Birth Image was created following the birth, and first meeting, of his daughter. While these artists explore first impressions of in-person encounters, Rozanne Hermelyn Di Silvestro looks at social media as a new source of first impressions. She observes that “For many today, online communication is a substitute for face-to-face interactions. While sitting behind a screen, you can shape how others perceive you and create an alternate impression of an identity you aspire to.” Other artists, like Ashley Rodriguez Reed and Sharon Augusta Mitchell, document first encounters with nature. Mitchell’s Nocturne was inspired by an unexpected encounter with a graceful Luna moth. She states, “Having never seen one, I was struck by its extraordinary beauty”. Bob Brokl and Helene Paulette Cote take inspiration from images and impressions discovered in their travels.
Many prints, like Sandra Beard‘s Sidewalks, show the artist’s first reaction to politics and current events. Donna Brown’s Stand Together reflects on her experience of a 2018 Women’s March; Kent Manske’s book Between the Burner’s responds to the “bizarre circus” of the 2016 presidential primaries; Maryly Snow’s Tangled Climate is a reaction to climate change; and Jami Taback’s At the Border responds to the separation of families. Nikki Thompson’s artist book Dodger Blues relates the ‘first impressions’ of a softball player, which include gender issues and “her first experience with the sexism of co-ed softball”.
Anna Rochester’s Market Aerial View explores what can be seen when one looks beyond a first impression. At first, the crowd at a market place seems to be nothing more than “stochastic movement, meaningless chaos. Only patient observation reveals an organic rise and ebb, the joy in togetherness, never explicitly voiced, but underlying each exchange.” Joanna Kidd’s Flower Creatures also challenge the viewer to look beyond the first impression. At first, the work appears to be about three-dimensional flowers that are pressed down to two dimensions to preserve a soft, pretty, and faded memory. Upon closer inspection these soft creatures, like the human relationships they represent, can also have teeth and claws.
While many works explore the theme of a first encounter, or the reaction to an experience or situation, others relate to the more literal “first impression” that is part of the printmaking process. Printmakers apply ink to a matrix, such as a wood, metal, or plexiglass plate and then transfer this ink onto paper. This process can allow for rich spontaneity and unexpected surprises as well as the careful and controlled development of a image over time. Katherine Venurelli’s etchings Circles of My Mind exemplify this process of development. For Venturelli, the “first impression” that is printed from an etching plate is just the beginning of a journey. She states, “It can take weeks, months, and sometimes years to finish a print work. Many times, the print morphs into a third dimension such as one of my artist books.” On view in the exhibition are the first state (“impression”) of the print and the fifth and final state, after the plate had been altered and reworked many times. Nanette Wylde and Laurie Szujewska also rework old prints into new images. Szujewska takes words printed with letterpress and reworks them into new collages where “language has become meaningless as content and is reborn as pure form”. Wylde took prints from throughout her career and used them to create the artist’s book Remembrance III. In this process she was “intrigued that juxtaposing diverse imagery facilitates the creation of new narratives”.
For Barbara Nilsson, each impression of the printing process provides another layer of color and texture. Nilsson “sees the world in layers. Layers upon layers of color, texture, sights and emotions … It is the impression of these layers that are reflected in Crossroads Atlas allowing one to see the layers of life around us”. Other artists revel in the spontaneity and surprise of the printmaking process. Susan Silvester explains that the startled expressions of the foxes in her mixed media print Startled!! mirror the artist’s own feeling of surprise upon first printing the work. The combination of different printmaking techniques often leads to unexpected results, which are only discovered as the work is printed. Betty Friedman explains, “The first impression and revelation is what keeps this process interesting”.
The California Society of Printmakers (CSP) is an international organization that promotes the practice and appreciation of contemporary fine art printmaking. The goal is to support the integrity of traditional printmaking while providing a home for artists exploring new directions in contemporary print methods. To that end, the CSP organizes exhibitions of membersʼ artwork, artist talks, demos, lectures, artist residencies and an annual journal publication. CSP is the oldest printmaking organization in the nation. Originally founded in 1912 as the California Society of Etchers, it reflected a surge of printmaking activity during the early part of the century. In 1968 the California Society of Etchers merged with the Bay Area Printmakers to form the present CSP. For more information visit caprintmakers.org.
In addition to the exhibit, there will be free community printmaking drop-ins on Monday, January 13 and Thursday, January 16, both from 4 – 6pm. No registration is required, simply arrive for either or both drop-ins. Different topics/techniques will be presented at each drop-in. All ages welcome. The printmaking drop-ins are supported, in part, by a grant from the City of Davis Arts & Cultural Affairs program.
The exhibition features the work of: Shunsuke Ando, Sandra Beard, Robert Brokl, Donna Brown, Hélène Paulette Côté, Christopher M. Dewees, Betty Friedman, Karen Gallagher-Iverson, Rozanne Hermelyn Di Silvestro, Susan L. Howe, Debra Jewell, Joanna Kidd, Dixie Laws, Kent Manske, Sharon Augusta Mitchell, Barbara Nilsson, Anna Rochester, Ashley Rodriguez Reed, Luz Marina Ruiz & Debbie Koppman, Aslı Sağlam, Susan Silvester, Maryly Snow, Herlinde Spahr, Laurie Szujewska, Jami Taback, Nikki Thompson, Katherine Venturelli, Sandy Walker, Sylvia Solochek Walters, Nanette Wylde and Kamil Zaleski.