Tuesday, February 13, 2018

East Meets West

Back in the fall I had a number of higher ups in BelmarArts ask me about the possibility of a printmaking themed show.  Perhaps because I was coming off having 6 paid students in my summer woodcut class there, some of whom seemed very determined to take it.  However, I saw one potential problem- there just aren't a lot of printmakers out there in the region, and we might not get the numbers we need to have a decent show.

But then Mary Lane, one of my former Belmar students and now ardent practitioner of woodcut, approached me with an idea. Woodcut had not only given her a new way to practice her art skills, but it had allowed her to reconnect with friends from her art school days, now regular printmakers.  One of those friends is based in Portland, OR where she does large woodcuts, and she invited Mary to come visit, meet some other professionals, and help her to hand print some 12 foot long woodcut prints, with hand printing being a skill she did as part of my Belmar class.  She indicated she had a good time.

So my former student Mary and her friend from Portland (also named Mary so we have taken to referring to her as "west coast Mary" came up with an idea- join forces and use the numbers there and here to put together a decent sized show of traditional printmaking.  I'm sure woodcut will be well represented, but traditional forms of intaglio, lithography, and silkscreen will also be allowed.  I sounded out Rebecca, then director of BelmarArts, and she loved the idea, and assigned us an exhibition slot for September of 2018.

Then things got complicated.  West coast Mary told us that she would love to participate in a show, but had no time to organize things in her part of the country, or to seek a venue for it out there.  Rebecca decided to take a full time job, and left in January.  The Board turned over and they are in no hurry to tell us who is running things now.  A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from someone acting on behalf of an 'exhibition committee' with a lot of questions about the show.  (all of these questions had been settled the year before in our meetings with Rebecca, so I knew it wouldn't be that hard to answer them)  Stuff like that.

So even though the show was many months away, we got to work.  Our Mary has been a dynamo, already securing one significant donation toward our efforts, seeking more cash and/or materials and services from print related businesses, putting together a list of potential artists, both here, Portland, and other regions where she has friends.  (for organizational purposes, this will essentially be like a juried show and people who live anywhere can enter) She also produced a written response to all those questions, so this committee can know what we already knew.  If that's not enough for them, they'll have to tell us what they really want.  Woodcutters don't get pushed around.


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