Thursday, March 28, 2013

Print: MKE 2013 Lingers with Award Winners & Exhibitions

Congratulations to Milwaukee's Art Community

By Peggy Sue
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The long awaited Southern Graphics Council International Print: MKE 2013 conference concluded last weekend, a highlight to the year's creative events. Over 2000 artists, educators, and supporters of printmakers flowed through the city’s streets to study art, and the art of printmaking.

For last Friday’s Public Print Crawl, galleries throughout Milwaukee overflowed with people, participants of every age asking questions while renowned speakers traveled from around the world to elaborate on the multi-faceted techniques to printmaking in conference workshops hosted over the three days. Host defined awards given at the conference acknowledged La Ceiba Grafica’s Rafael Ruiz Moreno, Per Anderson and Martin Vinover, artists featured at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts. SGC International honored the Veracruz, Mexico print collective with “The Community and Sustainability Award.” This represents what WPCA  tries to accomplish in the city’s Fifth Ward where the organization serves the neighborhood’s primarily Latino community in education although the organization draws from many areas of the city with exhibitions and membership. Another prestigious award,  The “Print Community and Mentorship Award,” was given to RedLine Milwaukee and founders Lori Bauman and Steve Vande Zande for their efforts to promote printmaking education, residencies and workshops with a focus on socially significant issues, another excellent example of how printmaking influences Milwaukee's vibrant art scene.   

The “Supporters in Print: Art Dealer” was awarded to Cissie Peltz of Peltz Gallery, who has championed printmaking over her gallery’s more than 20 years of serving Milwaukee with a sublime selection of fine art. Her extended connections and relationships with numerous SGC International award winners include Warrington Colescott, Lesley Dill, Jim Dine, Margo Humphrey, Frances Myers, Judith Solodkin and Alison Saar, to name several. And on merely one wall of Peltz Gallery, a visitor could see the world of many distinctive print presses. Peltz dedicates herself to exceptional knowledge of this particular art form with her effervescent personality that radiates from within every time someone steps through the gallery door. Please send congratulations to these  SGCI Print: MKE 2013 award winners for their well deserved efforts.

While many of the exclusive print exhibitions were on display for only the conference, others recently opened and will  be on view for several weeks. One of these is housed in the Marshall Building’s Grava Gallery and features University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point professor Bill Erickson in “Seana Thir: Recent Works on Paper.” Erickson’s deeply textured monoprints reflect on Ireland’s coast line, which he names Seana Thir, meaning “old land,”and a shore ravaged by water, wind and time. A poem exhibited alongside the artworks deepens the meaning and becomes part of Erickson’s artistic statement that enhances the imagery.

Small drawings, including Seanna Thir XXXVI, represents tiny studies in how natural forces can define movement, in battering the sea or shore line rock beds. The few miniature prints resemble monolithic cliffs, or protrusions from a rocky shore, even sprays of water that lift high above the Atlantic Ocean in a storm, forms sometimes repeated in Erickson's larger images.

These larger prints by Erickson such as Seanna Thir XXII, a monoprint with acrylic, graphite and pastel on prepared Kitakaka paper, could resemble the ancient heritage of Stonehenge, vast monuments that have withstood centuries of weather, every type, combined with the human factor that also battles their jutting facades to the ocean.

Erickson's selected poem relates “their struggle to stay upright” and while environments do struggle to survive, the prints might suggest a human’s similar battle to weather life’s fury and storms, years of time, without these rock solid foundations. In this intimate gallery, spend time and contemplate the 16 artworks, which requires concentration to fully appreciate, and evoke more emotion with continued viewings. 

Some of Erickson's  prints appear almost in motion and embody a foreboding through their color and tone, which provokes emotion and memories. Other images spring from the bottom to the top of the page in a life giving energy, where the exhibition perhaps presents a juxtaposition illustrating the dichotomy in the natural world. The water and wind can be destructive or beneficial, depending on the place and time, with a particular energy in a given moment. 

Stop by Grava Gallery and view Erickson’s intriguing poem and prints. And then wish owner Michael Wavra congratulations. This will be his last official exhibition before the gallery closes when Wavra retires next month. Also consider congratulating the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design for co-sponsoring the SGC International conference, and the cities many galleries, merchants and venues for hosting the myriad artists and travelers, welcoming them to what has been rated as one of the top twelve art cities in the country. Then add congratulations to RedLine Milwaukee, Cissis Peltz at Peltz Gallery and Grava Gallery for their untold years supporting the arts.

 

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