Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pictures + Words: The Artist Series, at Bay Area Free Books Exchange

Click on image above for larger version.

Pictures + Words: The Artist Series.

Organized by Philip King @

March 26, 2012: On Sunday, April 8, the Bay Area Free Book Exchange launches Pictures + Words: The Artist Series. Curated by Philip King, this will be an exhibition in three parts by local artists taking an opportunity to liberate the words: “book,” “free,” and “exchange,” as a new way to display their work. The series launches with After Wyoming, a response to “Book,” by printmaker and book artist Michelle Wilson. The Bay Area Free Book Exchange is located at 10520 San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito, and is open every weekend from 9AM-6PM. A reception will be held on April 8, from 4-6 PM, where visitors will be able to enjoy food and drink, see the art, and help themselves to the free books. All activities are free and open to the public.

The quiet materiality of Wilson’s work includes a sense of the time taken making it, making her own paper and carving blocks to print her imagery. Like so much of the best contemporary artwork it brings with it its own lucid conscience, and a sense of story. As a book artist, Wilson has chosen to liberate her visual narratives from their bindings, and instead presents a series of “pages,” in a nonlinear sequence of events. Wilson was recently an Artist-In-Residence at Jentel Arts, an arts residency program in Sheridan, Wyoming. After Wyoming is her response to her time there and experiences since returning.

Pictures + Words: The Artist Series continues in May with paintings by Philip King, followed by the collected images of Timothy Buckwalter. All the artists live and work in the East San Francisco Bay.

The Bay Area Free Book Exchange was established May 17, 2009. It was created and is run cooperatively by local book sellers/book lovers who process thousands of books every month. They thus continually stock the shelves of the Free Book Exchange. All the books on all the shelves are available to the public free of charge. It is an ever-changing treasure hunt among thousands of books. Open Every Weekend Saturday & Sunday 9am-6pm. For information on the artist series please contact: Michelle Wilson at michelle(at)michellewilsonprojects(dot)com.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Publications, a New Print, and other news

Maddy Rosenberg invited me to dust off my collagraph skills recently, by inviting me to write a how-to article for Central Booking Magazine (follow the link to order a copy)! The gives step-by-step instructions, which are illustrated by the making of the print above, Solace.

It's been a while since I made a collagraph outside of a classroom demonstration or print exchange with students. It was exciting to get back into experiment mode - I used to make so many collagraphs, like this one below, made while on a residency in Costa Rica.

My challenge was to fit this technique into my current work, which incorporates a more graphic punch. The final print uses the collagraph as a the first layer of color, with four more layers of linoleum on top. Since I've been back from Wyoming, I've been trying to take more walks. Still not managing to as much as I'd like, but my favorite place to go is Point Pinole, which is where I drew the inspiration for this piece.

I'm not sure what exactly draws me there, I love the panorama of the bay and Mount Tamalpais from it's western side, I love seeing the plethora of birds, I love hearing the wind blow through the grasses. Though I think what I find most comforting is the history - the park is the site of a former munitions company that made black power and dynamite. There are still a few relics on site - like this black powder press.

There is also a bunker where I believe they tested explosives, now almost completely overgrown with trees growing out of the walls. Nature has reclaimed the site, and I find this evidence, with Robert still incapacitated, as a great comfort.

As I continue with this series, I've been wondering about this recurring theme of "people looking at stuff" that seems to crop up often. Not sure where it's going, but I think I might need to break out of the static nature of it soon, though not yet...

In other publication news, Shelley Thorstensen, in other words, a catalog of prints by the woman who introduced me to printmaking is out. I've written an essay for it - and it's the first in the book! It can be ordered online or scrolled though page-by-page here.

I'm also part of a three-person show with Helen Hiebert and Sun Young Kang at MCLA's Gallery 51 in North Adams, MA, curated by Melanie Mowinski. The show is called Branching Together, and as Melanie puts it, in an almost Mary Oliver poem kind of way:

The lines, paths and ways created by fiber, paper and shadow that each of these artists create branch together as they journey from birth, through life and into death. Where are the places inside of each of us that mother, that mourn, that take a stand? How do they branch together in you? How do they branch together in me? How do they branch toward each other, bringing us together as we journey in this great community of earth? I ask you this as the curator, to think about this as you experience this exhibit, what is your path? How is it part of this greater communal journey of birth, life and death?

Image above is my piece, The Ghost Trees, on view in the space.

The idea for Solace was a moment I had at Point Pinole, standing on the eastern side looking over the water. It was early evening, low tide, and birds were feasting on what they could find along the shore. One gull flew in an arch almost directly above my head, crying out a single caw. It seemed directed at me - probably from his perspective, it was either telling me, the predator, to get lost, or warning other birds of my proximity, or some mixture of the two. Yet something about the cry, the moment, the recognition of my presence, reminded me of how interconnected I am to everything. It didn't take away the anxiety and sorrow of everything that's been going on, but it was enough.