Friday April 18th 2014

Art Spotting

Breaking boundaries

By: Jamie Thompson

Art is constantly evolving. That is why it is so fascinating. New artists continually push the envelope, and create works with fresh scope. Prints: Breaking Boundaries, at Portland Public Library’s Lewis Gallery, features the work of 35 Maine artists who use new printmaking techniques an materials. It’s open for a couple more days, through the 23rd.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. Curated by CMCA curator emeritus Bruce Brown, the exhibition is a study in how a traditional medium can be transformed using modern approaches. In fine art printmaking, an artist typically creates editions of etchings, engravings, lithographs, woodcuts, or silkscreens on paper. Contemporary printmaking now includes one-of-a-kind prints made on myriad surfaces, using a variety of media.

There is an intriguing mix of textures, patterns, and colors in this show. In fact, at first glance, I would not know that this exhibition is devoted solely to printmaking if it wasn’t made abundantly clear! And I mean that as a good thing – after all, that is the point.

Jennifer Strode’s “Untitled” is a perfect example of an artist using different materials to give printmaking an edge. Her monochromatic piece is rich in texture, with a pop of red to add more interest. It is an etching with relief print, chine colle, and thorns. The thorns add a 3D element, as well as a slightly sinister quality to the print.

“Skywall: 12/20/12.2″ by Meg Brown Payson, takes printmaking off the page. The lithograph/drawing is created on two layers of sheer white silk, with one hung in front of the other. The watery blue print is serene, and the airy quality of the silk makes for a very ethereal piece.

David Twiss created a couple of works that really caught my eye. “High Chair” is a woodblock print on a wooden high chair. I have never seen anything like it before, and it is another example of how versatile printmaking is. His other piece, “Book 2,” is a woodblock and digital print with 3D elements (pictured above). It is reminiscent of a pop-up storybook, but done in an impressively large size, with thick black outlines and rich contrast. The characters almost come to life.

“Temple: Breaklogic” is an etching done on paper, but it is not as simple as it sounds (pictured above). The artist, Shawn Brewer, created a 3D piece out of the etching, and it is hung like a mobile. The delicately drawn lines and carefully crafted shape are lovely.

There is so much more to discover at this exhibition. If you can make it to the Lewis Gallery in the next couple of days, I would highly recommend that you check it out.

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