‘There are no giclees in the show,” Blue Line Arts curator Tony Natsoulas said about “The Impression: A Print Survey,” currently on display at the spacious gallery in downtown Roseville.
The large show includes works done in a variety of printmaking methods in which an artist works directly on a surface – a metal plate, a litho stone, a block of wood, for example – with the intention of creating an original work. Giclees, which are digitally created ink-jet reproductions of already existing works, are not original, nor are many limited-edition prints created through photographic reproductions of a painting or drawing.
“Impression” features big names – Pablo Picasso, Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson – as well as less familiar ones. It opens with a stunning lithograph by Richard Diebenkorn done in 1982. It’s a large, dark abstraction with sinuous shapes that reveals the influence of Henri Matisse on Diebenkorn.
It’s followed by a trio of strong etchings by Thiebaud. “Dark Cakes and Pies” (2000) gives us an example of the artist’s iconic still lifes of desserts, done in direct gravure with Chine-collé. “Apartment Hill” (1985), a masterful large drypoint etching, and “Steep Street – Black and Gray” (1989), a smudgy, rich, spit bite aquatint with drypoint, are quirky San Francisco landscapes with vertiginous streets that cut through hills.
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Arneson is represented by a pair of large, color lithographs with confetti-like markings. “Up Against It” (1980) is a bold portrait of the artist with his distorted face pressed up against a window or mirror. “Me and Jackson” (1987) is an homage to Jackson Pollock, done in somber, somehow sour colors, that superimposes Arneson’s face on Pollock’s.
Picasso’s “Tete de Bouffon” is a bold, swirling, linocut image of a clown’s head that almost jumps off the wall. Next to it is Paul Wonner’s color lithograph, “Basket of Plums,” a formally poised still life of flowers and fruit that contrasts with the expressionism of Robert Colescott’s nearby image of raw, abstracted nudes.
Joan Brown’s lithograph, “The Racoon” (1989), is a precise, compelling animal portrait, hung next to “The Sower,” William T. Wiley’s comment on war and peace in the form of a wood block print with a handwritten message that combines references to Van Gogh and Millet.
Nathan Oliveira’s lithograph, “The Elder” (1957), is a powerful evocation of the human spirit, beaten but not broken, while Roy De Forest’s vibrant color lithograph of animals – one a dog and one a cross between a dog and a lamb marked with crosses and hearts and placed in a rich blanket of lush color – speaks of innocence and hope. On the other hand, Kelly Detweiler’s monoprint “Faculty Meeting,” a colorful image of a pack of biting dogs, wryly satirizes the petty viciousness of academic politics.
Jenny Robinson’s large-scale drypoint, “Above L.A.,” a rich, dark, architectural abstraction that calls up associations with Diebenkorn, is one of the strongest works in the show. It contrasts nicely with Gregory Kondos’ small, spare, light-struck etching of Half Dome.
Among the other works that stand out are Adam Larsen’s enigmatic mezzotint and woodcut, “Overprotective”; Seiko Tachibana’s delicate, subtly colored intaglio “Fern 22”; Casey O’Connor’s woodcut impression of The Creature from the Black Lagoon; and Emily Wilson’s delicate etching and drypoint “Stranded.”
The most innovative work in the show is Terry Petersen’s “Self Serve,” a three-dimensional piece in the form of a crude printing device that offers a block print of a coffee cup for $1, which isn’t a bad deal because the tiny print – signed and numbered – that emerges from the machine is really quite charming.
One drawback of the show is that information about titles, Fdates and mediums were not provided by the gallery. Nevertheless, it’s a strong survey of prints done in Northern California (with the exception of the Picasso).
The Impression: A Print Survey
Where: Blue Line Arts, 405 Vernon St., Suite 100, Roseville
When: Through July 9. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday