About Jon Lybrook

Jon Lybrook is owner and chief printmaker at Intaglio Editions in Boulder Colorado. His Google profile can be found at https://plus.google.com/109923649583462819753/about

Curator Discusses the Role of the Print Curator

David Acton  - Author and Curator

David Acton – Author and Curator

At the IFPDA Print Fair in NYC last week, “Conversations with the Curator” was an interview with David Acton, author and Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photography at the Worcester Art Museum, and John Dorfman, editor-in-chief of Art & Antiques Magazine.  Throughout the interview, Mr. Acton touched upon the appreciation of the print as a work of art, how things have changed since he first became a curator and how it differs from being a collector.

Preserving art and ideas for future generations has traditionally been a large part of a curator’s job and is mostly how it differs from the goals of a private collector.

Waxing nostalgic, Mr. Acton spoke of curators of yesteryear being sophisticated, experts of the world especially with regard to art, and the sciences involved in making art.  It was mostly about being a “connoisseur of objects.”  Today this profile has changed in part due to technology, which he said is another aspect of appreciation.  Sometimes the internet, for example, can help inform the investigator more quickly than extensive library research, but since the authority of the information on the internet is questionable at times, it’s also easy to dismiss.  The same is true of digital images of prints themselves. This means of immediate access to art lacks the tactile appreciation of working with art.

What made printmaking great was the necessity for artists and printmakers to know much more about the art and technology of the day, as well as throughout history, in order to make prints, and appreciate the craft of making prints. Printmaking was a broad specialty, leaking into painting, photography, chemistry, sculpture and many other disciplines. Mr. Acton went on to say the excitement of holding a work of art that has survived through the centuries has largely been dismissed as ancillary information to people new to the field.  The joy of connoisseurship, and of holding a work of art, being present and engrossing one’s self in the details of how the ink sits on the print, evaluating the condition of the paper, and the historical context of the work, are being dismissed too quickly by the younger generations. It is no longer being taught.  Patience, savoring, being fully present, and experiencing what is being observed is becoming a lost skill.

The disparity he expressed toward Millennials’ lack of patience to “be” with an image before dismissing it was brought up several times.  The saturation of images subjected to a generation growing up with the internet should not come as a surprise.  How a printed work on paper, which can sometimes take months or years to create, can be dismissed so easily should be understandable, yet is deplorable. While work must speak for itself regardless of process, it is so much harder to appreciate an image solely on the 2-dimensional nature of the composition without being in its presence and feeling the weight, seeing the relief, texture with the knowledge of the technique that went in to creating the image, as well as the composition and color that can be only marginally represented on the computer.  It’s no wonder younger people find it easier to reject images so quickly.

This is, in part, inherent in printmaking since it is, and has been, largely about disseminating work broadly.  Why should the experience of holding a print be savored if one knows they can pull up an image of it on their cell phone at any time by merely Googling the name or artist?  Printmaking solved the challenge of the day about how to share information, and with the internet we are continuing that challenge, yet there is more to appreciating a work of art than merely appreciating its composition.

As far as technology, Mr. Acton made clear that what technique or innovation was used in creating a print should not become a gimick for selling the print. This could be true of both old technologies as well as new.  The beauty of a print stands on its own regardless of the technique used to create it.  While inkjet was not addressed directly, it seems clear that an inkjet print, that may take time to compose and little time to actually print should not cost more than, say, a 9 plate etching edition of 25 due to the time and skill involved in rendering such an image.

Lastly, David Acton made it clear that for many artists, printmaking is social means of expression and collaboration that gets them out of the studio.  To many skilled artist the exchange of ideas and freeing themselves from the technological impediments to making art is an important reason to make prints and provides another facet in the work and lives of many successful artists.

Abstract Paintings by Homare Ikeda at Lone Tree Arts Center thru November 10, 2013

"Jade" by Homare Ikeda

“Jade” by Homare Ikeda

A wide range of brilliant and colorful, abstract paintings by Denver artist Homare Ikeda is on display at the Lone Tree Art Center in South Denver through November 10, 2013.  “Lines in Space” is the second in a series of “Commissioners Choice” exhibits at the arts center.

Huge paintings fill the main lobby while more intimate and detailed works on paper and canvas line the administration areas of the building.  Ikeda is prolific, and the 30 plus pieces provide an robust sampling of his more recent work represented by the William Havu gallery in Denver.

Broad brush strokes juxtaposed with immaculate detail, a variety of imaginative textures, repeating marks, and thoughtful color combinations provide the foundation for much of the work. He has once said much of his inspiration comes from the idea of being witness to the earliest beginnings of life.  Microscopic forms such as paramecium and protozoan shaped figures are often a recurring theme in his work.

From his artist statement:

To me, painting has become a vehicle to travel in and out of the world of unknown. A blob of paints is daubed, scratched, scraped and painted one layer upon another. The thickly painted surface is the reminiscent of my journey into the heart of sea where all my reflections of life are imbued. The sea is the genesis of the original form of life. I begin my painting with a simple vision. The first stages are usually kept fluid and open. As the painting progresses, I keep adding or scraping the layers of paints. I see them as the metaphor of life. At a certain point in this process, the painting starts to take over my control.

Homare Ikeda was born on the island of Yoron, near Okinawa, Japan. He has lived, studied, and taught in the United States since 1978. He and his wife Mamiko Ikeda both currently teach at the Art Students League of Denver.

For further information on the exhibit, which runs until November 10, contact Lone Tree Arts Center at 720-509-1000 or visit www.LoneTreeArtsCenter.org

The lobby hours are 10am-4pm Monday through Friday and before and during scheduled performances.  Artwork is for sale by inquiring at the box office.

Invisible Museum and Denver’s Month of Printmaking (Mo’Print )

Recently we attended a arts fundraising event in Denver to raise money and awareness for what’s being called Mo’Print, or the Month of Printmaking.  The event was well-attended in spite of the rain and tornado warnings. Great food, wine, conversation, and a fine art print auction of work donated by supporting artists was included.  We also had the privilege of touring the house of Sue Canyon who has a large and intriguing art collection.

Mo’Print is a new, month-long, city-wide event to promote fine art printmaking in all its forms, but primarily traditional, hand-printed works on paper.  The idea is to have this event every other March, opposite from when the well-established, biennial “Month of Photography” festival occurs in Denver .

Guests having a great time at the Invisible Museum fundraiser in Denver

Guests having a great time at the Invisible Museum fundraiser in Denver

More event photos by Jon Lybrook.

The Invisible Museum, which sponsored the event, is a 501(c)3 non-profit who’s mission is “To facilitate projects in the visual arts that would not otherwise be imagined  proposed or completed.”

More information on Mo’Print Denver can be found here:  http://invisiblemuseum.org/MoPrint/