Last week Friday, Karina and I made a flying trip down to Orange City, IA to my opening at Northwestern College. It was a great opening...a good turnout, time with family and friends, seeing former professors, and of course seeing ones art in a new space. As I said that night, any solo exhibition is a great event as an artist but the opportunity to do so in a community that has been so formative in my own life is extremely special. I am so thankful for this opportunity, for family and friends who came to the show, and for Emily Stokes wonderful help in hosting.
I've waited to post anything on Barton for a couple of weeks because I have not known what to say. Barton's death on May 30th caught me by surprise...and yet it did not. I knew he had aids...I knew he had been ill for much of the past year...and well...all people die eventually. But I guess I was just not prepared to say goodbye to someone I felt I had just met.
Before coming to ND I had no idea who Barton was, but was quickly introduced to his work by fellow students and faculty. While Barton had friends and collectors across the country no doubt, peculiarly he had a pocket of friends, admirerers, and acquaintances in the Red River Valley of North Dakota. It is through these connections that I had two opportunities to meet him. First, on our print trip to NYC in the fall of 2011, we stopped in to his apartment and studio for a few hours and chatted with him. It was such a remarkable space filled with art and artifacts that bespoke of Barton's imagination, creativity, sense of humor. He welcomed us in to his cramped home as if we were long friends.
The second visit (from which this photo was taken) spoke more to me about the man than I could have expected. Sundog Press, here at UND, did a print for Barton...a prayer rug made from stamps. It is a beautiful peice. I was headed to NYC to speak at the College Theology Society annual conference and it worked that we could meet up and I would assist Barton in signing and dividing up the prints. It was a great 3 hours or so. Not only did we snoop around his place, look at the artifacts again, see his new work, but he bought us dinner, answered my silly questions, and even discussed religion with me (I have in mind to do a paper on Barton's religious imagination some day).
I will be the first to say that I did not know Barton well. But it is strange how in the course of two short visits, this man came to impact my life in such a unique way. His sense of humor and hospitality was remarkable as was his generosity. I am truly thankful for those brief hours with him, it was the highlight of our trip to NYC, and those memories will linger on shaping my life and art practices from here on out. Thank you Barton for your courage, humor, challenging us with your work, and your gracious spirit.
For more about Barton, check out this recent article by the NY Times.
Last fall I was interviewed forthis little article by UND's alumni association. The articled talks about the generosity of Jackie McElroy-Edwards,a former printmaking faculty and department chair at UND. She has set up a scholarship specifically for printmaking. Those who are printmakers certainly know the costs of being a printmaker...cans of ink, paper, and all the other little things that add up so quickly...not to mention if one has to buy blankets, a press, rollers, etc that quickly add up to thousands of dollars. So a scholarship along the way is most helpful.
I am thankful to Jackie and her husbands generosity for making my journey through grad school a little less expensive.
Last week was spring break here at UND which coincides with midterm. Even though I am no longer a degree seeking student, I still measure time according to the university calendar. It has been a busy and productive first half of the semester with the production of a significant body of work.
Since graduating last May, I've been thinking about this series...perhaps even earlier as it actually utilizes aspects of other projects. I wanted to take the idea and execution of the prints that I did for the books in the MFA exhibition and put them into a format similar to the large translucent cyanotype landscapes that hung out from the wall without a frame. I reworked the hanging process to a more suitable and minimal method.
Overall, I am fairly happy with these pieces. Doing the work, the process of hanging it, and simply the look of it on the wall suggests new directions and possibilities that I hope to work on perhaps yet this semester.
Back in 2011, my fellow student at the time decided to put together a small suite of image from many of North Dakota's printmakers. For the past year, that collection has been traveling around the state at a variety of locations and venues through the North Dakota Art Gallery Association. The show actually has made its second stop in Minot this month with a visit to the Taube. Minot Daily News covered this visit as well as the one to Minot State back in November.
Traveling sites include:
James Memorial Art Center, Williston, ND;
Bismarck State College Gallery, Bismarck, ND;
University of Mary, Bismarck, ND,
Northwest Art Center, Minot, ND;
The Art Center, Jamestown, ND
Cando Art Center, Cando, ND;
Taube Museum of Art, Minot, ND;
Northern Lights Art Gallery, Mayville, ND;
Bismarck Art Gallery, Bismarck, ND
Sometimes getting new art is better than making art. This is a piece we (Sundog Multiples) made last spring for Barton Benes. Ive been waiting to get this one framed and hung for 6 months and finally got it finished today.
This is one of Barton's new pieces that integrates stamps into a weaving of sorts like prayer rug.
ART EXHIBIT: 'Calaca Press' [McAllen, through Oct. 28]October 19, 2011 3:38 PMNancy Moyer
It’s the time of year for South Texas artists to bring out the Calaveras, and Art House Studios has done it with style and freshness. “Calaca Press International Print Exchange” completely fills the three gallery spaces and features one hundred-forty small, original prints.
Nicaraguan printmaker, Carlos Barbarena, who has established his Calaca Press in Chicago, organized the exhibit. Having conceived of the idea of bringing international printmakers together, he put out a call for submissions on Facebook. The word spread from there, attracting prints from three hundred printmakers and representing nineteen countries.
“Barbarena wanted to do a show on Calacas, which is the folklore of Aztec and Mexico mixed, ” explained Reynaldo Santiago, Art House Studios’ Curator. “It’s not quite a day of the dead... the other countries and the U.S. Midwest, they don’t have a Day of the Dead, but they interpret what Calacas means in their own terms and their own culture. So that’s what we have here.”
The prints overwhelmingly depict Calaveras; some pick up on Día de los Muertos symbolism, while others are comfortably European in their stylistic referencing. Others are refreshingly non-referential.
Another print with strong, but unnerving content is “Death Rattle” by Lisette Chavez. The child's toy is shown with a skull as the rattle. There is no humor here.
“La Katrina de Azucar,” a screenprint by Marwin Begaye, uses the traditional festive Katrina image to deftly combine both humor and biting social commentary. Jauntily clustered atop the Katrina’s flowered and feathered hat nestles much of the fast food that will ultimately kill us.
A centrally placed coca-cola bottle displays the words, Enjoy Obesity, as its logo.
Liv Rainy-Smith’s woodcut, “Death and the Printmaker,” feels more European in its conceptual origin. Although the style is contemporary, the interplay of the printmaker dancing with a Calavera (death) is more reminiscent of Northern Renaissance printmaking.
Some artists pay homage to the Masters. “Jose Guadalupe Posada” by Linda Lucia Santana and Coco Rico, and “’Los Muertos’ según Francisco Marco de Goya Hernández” by Marco Hernandez, both present excellent realistic portraiture alongside imagery referencing the Masters’ styles.
The strength of this show lies not only in the quality of its prints, but also in the diversity of printmaking techniques. Fine woodcuts, lithographs, etchings, mezzotints, screenprints, and even a solar plate print are notable. This particular selection of prints weighs heavily in favor of a spread of U.S. artists. According to Santiago, the rest of the “Calaca Press International Print Exchange” collection will be shown in 2012. Perusing these prints is definitely time well spent.
Nancy Moyer, Professor Emerita of Art from UTPA, is an art critic for The Monitor. She may be reached at email@example.com
Both shows are up and we are busy printing for the visiting artists who will be joining us for a conference. Peter Kuper, Sabrina Jones and Seth Tobocman are all producing work through Sundog Press. Peter Kuper's work is an illustration of Jonathan Swift's satyrical essay, "A Modest Proposal." If you dont know about this famous little work, check it out here. Sabrina's work, from what I can tell uses a Tower of Babel type building morphing into a creature paired with barbed wire and a school bus likely suggesting some sort of education reform. Seth's work, like Kuper's, has a digitally printed background with a silk screen over top. Thus far, only the background is finished.
The first edition of four of the two volume set that I am tentatively calling Hermeneutics is finished. Like the two books from the MFA show the book uses vernacular photographs as a ploy to examine those things that shape our process of interpretation. These books take that idea into the field of religion and theology by employing a variety of cultural symbols, images, and text to suggest an assortment of differing positions that may guide interpretation. While some are done with a sense of irony and humor, they are intended to be an irenic sort of enterprise as a critique from within the bounds of the church. You can see more here.
Volume 1 begins with a rather provocative quote from Stanley Hauerwas stating, "...No task is more important than for the Chruch to take the Bible our of the hands of individual Christians in North America...[because] they are possessed by habits far too corrupt for them to be encouraged to read the Bible on their own." (Unleashing The Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America, p. 15) Hauerwas argues that North American Christians are too swayed by their status as democratic citizens to read the Bible correctly. Hauerwas is after those things that shape, and in this case, distort our readings to texts