The world of printmaking can be mysterious to those who don't make prints. While some prints mimic drawings and paintings, they are done by an elaborate process which most typically involves stones, metal plates, or wood blocks that are etched, engraved or carved to create images that can be produced in multiples.
"Ink," a show of 22 prints in a variety of graphic media at Sacramento City College's Kondos Gallery, offers an introduction to many of the techniques used in printmaking. Co-curated by Kondos Gallery directors Suzanne Adan and Michael Stevens and SCC printmaking professor Emily Wilson, it's a lively show that combines works by nationally known artists who have ties to the Sacramento area and younger printmakers who teach at academic institutions across the country.
The show is presented in conjunction with the opening of the new Printmaking Lab in the college's Performing Arts Center, a state-of-the-art facility Wilson is justly proud of. The day I visited the show, an art class from Sacramento High School viewed the exhibit and was treated to a tour of the new printmaking room.
As Wilson pointed out, the show is a terrific teaching tool. It moves from Kathy Puzey's "Gust," a woodblock print of a tornado-like form on a subtle field of gray, to Robert Arneson's lithographic self-portrait of him standing in front of his Davis tract house as he dreams of a castle in the sky.
Arneson is one of the famous artists to come out of the University of California, Davis. He is joined in this show by cohorts Roy De Forest and William Wiley.
De Forest is represented by a bold lithograph that has the richness and vigor of a charcoal drawing and depicts a fictive landscape in which a man and dogs wander in a desertlike wilderness. Wiley's "Eerie Grotto? Okini" is a woodblock print made in Japan by master woodblock carvers under the aegis of San Francisco's Crown Point Press. It mimics one of his whimsical watercolors with a jumble of images ranging from an ax in a box to Japanese fans. It's a tour de force of woodblock art.
"Oh My Goodness (No No)" is an etching by Chicago artist Jim Nutt, who taught at California State University, Sacramento, in the 1970s. It depicts a scatter of surreal humanoid creatures that might have sprung from one of Hieronymus Bosch's cautionary tales. "Relish" is a slick serigraph by photorealist artist Ralph Goings, who got his start in Sacramento in the early 1960s. It's a paean to the humble beauty of items on a diner counter a bottle of ketchup, salt and pepper shakers, a glass with packets of artificial sweeteners.
Southern California artist Alison Saar offers an expressionistic woodcut and monotype of the head of a hair-raising woman, while Patrick Siler gives us a dark and edgy woodcut of a river of whiskey jugs swirling through a rustic landscape. Mick Sheldon, who teaches at American River College, presents a raucously satiric, hand-colored woodcut of a saint and devil in combat. Anne Gregory, who teaches at SCC, displays a Picassoesque image of African figures from Mali.
Wilson is represented by a hand-worked chine collé etching of ears of corn in a composition that is divided between a pale blue-gray ground and a rich magenta field. Kathryn Polk presents "Throne of the Clay Princess," a complex lithograph in which a ghostly girl fidgets at a student desk surrounded by a swirl of letters and numbers on a deep blue background.
San Franciscan Sean O'Dell gives us a quixotic, brightly colored etching that seems poised between Paul Klee and Rube Goldberg. Michael Barnes offers a moody and beautifully rendered etching of a pile of detritus under a thunderous sky. Julie Niskanen's mezzotint of a wasp's nest on a velvety black background is a lovely, labor-intensive image, while Todd Christensen's "Disassembling the Anxiety Machine" is an innovative display of more than 60 small prints Xeroxed over book covers.
All in all, it's a strong show that mixes old and new, familiar and unfamiliar images in a variety of techniques from silk screen to spit bite etching, in which acid and gum arabic are painted on a plate to produce painterly passages.
Wilson will give a lecture and demonstration at 1 p.m. Sept. 28.
What: A show of 22 prints in a variety of graphic media
When: Noon-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon- 3 p.m. Friday or by appointment. Through Sept. 28.
Where: Kondos Gallery, Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Blvd.
Information: (916) 558-2559 or firstname.lastname@example.org