Hand Pulled Prints, Books, Drawings and More

Monday, February 21, 2011

Politics and Printmaking

I'm glad to see such an outpouring of support for the teachers who are currently protesting in Wisconsin. It is essential to the institution of public education and state workers everywhere that our state governments respect our union representation and take us seriously. Today I gathered with over 200 like minded people in Carson City, Nevada to rally in support of the teachers and state workers from Wisconsin and to raise awareness about potential budget cuts and educational funding for our state.

Here's some simple info:
Nevada is 50th in the nation for educational funding (that means per pupil, per teacher, per county, resources, etc.)
Nevada has some of the lowest graduation rates for both high school and post-secondary school, and some of the highest drop-out rates for secondary school in the nation.
Our state has a fiscal problem, but the solution to this problem is not to destroy the people and services that keep our state functioning. Compromises are always necessary, but giving up rights to collective bargaining is not compromise  it is surrender.

I know, I know... this isn't a political blog. But politics have always played a big part in my life and my art. Now is a great time for people to find out about our Propaganda in Print Exchange at Oxbow Press. Submissions don't have to be political, but those ideas are a strong source of inspiration for many people.

You must understand several things about me to see my point of view - I grew up in the back yard of Washington D.C., my father worked for the government in the Library of Congress and Foreign Affairs reporting for many years. Both my parents are now public school teachers (as are seven other members of my local family) who are union leaders in their local chapters. My aunt Joni Kaiser is a huge proponent for women and children's rights here in Nevada and the founder of the Committee to Aid Abused Women as well as a lobbyist and former City of Sparks legislator.
Even if you take my family's input on my political views out of the equation you are still talking to a poor, educated female who relies on public services.

Art allows me to explore how the complicated emotions of politics can be focused in the visual crucible of my work. Many great artists were inspired extensively by the politics of their day, the Russian artists during the Soviet Union (both supporting and in protest) are magical in their simplicity, the same can be said of World War II American propaganda art. These are not just images to be admired, they take hold of strong ideas and values and force the viewer to take a stand on a popular issue. One of the most famous examples of propaganda contributed to widespread change throughout American culture in a way the artist and government never intended - Rosie the Riveter.

This image was originally intended to get women to support the government's efforts in World War II by filling in for their soldiering husbands as engineers, assistants and laborers far outside the customary positions that women were accepted in at the time. This image liberated women in a new way by empowering them to take physically demanding jobs, jobs with expectations of power and responsibility.

Today I held a sign at the rally which read "Education is essential to economic recovery." I hope this is a sentiment that can be agreed upon by everyone regardless of personal political leanings. If you educate people they improve their own quality of life by getting better paying, safer jobs. Better paychecks allow people to better care for their children, and also allow them to give back to their government and community. It is not just in my best interests to protect the rights and dollars invested in state employees like public school teachers - it is in your best interests too. The better the schools are, the better equipped the students are, the better the teachers are, the better the education your children receive, the better services can be rendered, the better quality of life can be achieved - by everyone!
Most important to recognize is that if you give local students good educational opportunities they will STAY HERE! Without those opportunities most of the best candidates for jobs that will influence you and your children (through teaching, government or legal work, etc.) there will be fewer people who are less qualified for those needed positions. If the government encourages better and more extended education our workforce will be more employable and better at their jobs!

Think about it.

Also, Rocky Mountain Print Alliance info will be coming soon. I am gathering info on the Symposium to be held in April. And whatever your opinions are, I hope you are at least open minded enough to listen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Meat on My Bones

The Bird and Cats Opening was nice, we had a good number of supporters come out and a super group of newcomers asking questions and visiting Oxbow Press for the first time. We sold a beautiful reduction-cut relief print by one of our members.

Today I was very lucky, a number of artists from the press and myself all listened to Melanie Yazzie give a lecture at UNR. Her talk didn't have an incredibly focused theme but I think a structured list of topics to cover wouldn't have felt natural. Professor Yazzie talked extensively about her travels throughout the world teaching printmaking and how she relates to people of other cultures as a member of an indigenous nation. Professor Yazzie's Navajo heritage plays a large role in her art as do the themes of primitivism vs. acculturation, earth as character and not thing, interacting with one's environment actively instead of passively and bridging the gaps between cultures and perspectives through sharing art, history and education. I admit I was very inspired by Professor Yazzie's travels, art and perspective on the world.

Lately my own art has taken an introspective bent. Themes I consider dead and buried beneath my dirty floor are beginning to work their bony fingers between the boards. Zombified ideas aside, Professor Yazzie's talk communicated many things to me not the least of which was that it's ok for an artist's personal perspective to dictate everything from process to end result of an artwork's creation.

As I re-evaluate how things stand in the world around me and how I relate to it I return more and more to art in order to communicate. Communication is a big deal to me from my long term relationship to what I try to create at my studio to how I interact with co-workers and friends. Think about what you create, whether they are reports, musical scores, or visual art. How do your creations communicate - are you vocal, aural, textual? Why do you think you communicate this way? Do you feel that you communicate effectively?

Important Events Coming Soon!
February RCO Concerts this Saturday 8pm and Sunday 2pm featuring Joan Kwuon
March RCO Concerts on Saturday 19th, and Sunday 20th featuring Orion Weiss and regional premier of new work by Osvaldo Golijov
More information about RCO Concerts, STUDENT TICKETS $5
Rocky Mountain Print Alliance Symposium - April 27, 28, 29
Propaganda in Print Exchange and Exhibit - April 20

Spring Classes:
Oxbow Press - Intro to Etching, Beginning Book Arts, Propaganda in Print Screen Printing, Summer T-Shirts
Find out more about my oxbow classes.
Nevada Museum of Art - Teen Knitting Class February 26th, Carve a Cartouche June 25th
Find out more about the NMA

NEXT POST - What is the Rocky Mountain Print Alliance and why should I think that it's cool?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Birds, Cats and Buildings

A huge THANK YOU to visiting artist Jenny Robinson from the San Francisco area for joining us here in Reno for awhile. Jenny's massive trace monotype and drypoint prints have been displayed at Oxbow Press for a few weeks now and will be traveling home with her tomorrow. Through a partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno's Printmaking Department and Eunkang Koh the Oxbow Press has been able to bring Jenny to Reno for a lecture, held today, and a demonstration, to be given on Saturday.
Billboard by Jenny Robinson

Trace Monotype focuses on the beauty of the drawn line combined with the spontaneity and painterly approach of the multiple drop monotype. Prints will be made on Japanese paper and chine colle’d onto BFK Rives to produce the finished print. This workshop is suitable for all artists as well as seasoned Printmakers. Chine colle can be incorporated onto many work surfaces, including canvas, mixed media works on paper, sculpture, collage etc.

Join us at Oxbow Press this Friday, February 4th at 6:30pm to meet Jenny and admire her beautiful handiwork. Did I mention free food and wine?
Vote Kitty! screenprint by Rachel Kaiser

Also, the show I've been curating (Birds and Cats: Eternal Nemeses) will be hung next week!  The reception will be held next Saturday, February 12th at 5pm. This will be a really fun show - the theme is cats, birds and the relationship between them - and a great place to pick up a unique gift for Valentine's day. No seriously! The work I've received is all very beautiful and unique in it's own way, and much of it is very reasonably priced - we have a range from $10-$115
the postcard Candace Nicol put together for the show - thanks again Candace!