El bosque Dentro, by Poli Marichal. On loan from Serié Project, Coronado Studio, Austin
FLUX: Exhibit dedicated to the art of printmaking now available by appointment at the Walker’s Gallery
Like the tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it, an exhibit at the Walkers’ Gallery has been on the walls of the San Marcos Activity Center since early December — with no one there to see it.
This exhibit, dedicated to the art of printmaking, had been planned for more than a year. Two renowned Austin printmaking studio/galleries had agreed to loan work, a virtual workshop was held for area artists (plus two from Seattle) — and local artists were excited to display their work. On Dec. 5, with optimism and social distancing, the artworks were collected, hung, spaced and labeled…and then the first of three consecutive shutdowns occurred.
However, finally, Marching forward, the activity center has reopened — in masks and safe capacity — and everyone is invited to come to see the exhibit.
Untitled, by Peat Duggins. On loan from Austin’s Flatbed Center for Contemporary Printmaking
What is printmaking?
Many think of prints as being copies of art, typically reproduced by mechanical means as a way to make an original image available to many at an affordable price and in different sizes.
Printmaking, however, is an artistic discipline in and of itself, and includes multiple techniques, media and skills — some of which take decades to master. Most printmaking techniques involve the transfer of a hand-created image from one designed surface (the plate) to another, using ink or other medium; etchings, wood-cuts and lithographs are a few examples. As such, depending upon the life of the plate, the image can be replicated in what is called an edition. Typically, each print in the edition is hand-pulled and is therefore considered an original because slight variations may be seen.
Mono-prints are one-of-a-kind artworks created from the transfer of an image from a plate that has an impermanent image on it — like a gel plate print or a photo transfer.
While the first spontaneous printmaking could be traced to handprints on the walls of caves, printmaking is officially recognized as having started in sixth-century Europe as a method of decorating textiles with hand carved wooden stamps. Much later, the invention of paper in Asia inspired printing techniques such as woodcuts and engravings. Over the centuries and into the present, the ability to replicate images and text took off in myriad directions, long before photography and photocopying techniques were developed.
The current exhibit at the Walkers’ Gallery — titled “FLUX” — plays on printmaking’s essential grounding in process, as well as the constant changes and uncertainties of the time we are living through. It is a beautiful collection of 106 artworks, representing a wide range of printmaking techniques, including etching, lithography, seriography (silkscreen), woodcuts, transfer prints, stamping and monoprints of various types on display. Many are printed on alternative surfaces such as metal or clay as well as paper. Two large-scale painted print blocks themselves by San Antonio artist Kim Bishop are also on display.
Two walls of the gallery display 20 framed prints on loan from Flatbed Center for Contemporary Printmaking (formerly known as Flatbed Press). Flatbed has been a major player in the Austin art scene for more than 30 years, instrumental to the success of numerous contemporary artists. Its well-managed cooperative studio with state-of-the art equipment and master printmakers expertise have been a magnet for professional artists; its regular, high-quality workshops have launched numerous aspiring printmakers. Flatbed’s national reputation for quality work produced and esteemed gallery have made it a reliable go-to for collectors, and maintained support for the unique niche of printmaking. The Walker’s Gallery is grateful for the flexibility of co-founder/ director, Katherine Brimberry, for allowing extending the loan of these works through March.
Mariachi in King Arthur’s Court, by Luis Valderas, San Antonio
Additionally featured are six screen-prints on loan from the Coronado Studio, founded by the late Austin print-making pioneer, Sam Coronado, and now managed and directed by artist/printmaker Pepe Coronado (no relation). Sam Coronado established the printmaking studio in East Austin in 1992 as a way to bring work by underrepresented artists, primarily Hispanic, into great public recognition. Artists could apply annually to its artists in residence program for selected opportunities to work with master serigrapher (screen printer) to have an edition of one of their artworks printed. The edition was split between the artist and the studio as ‘payment’ for the opportunity. Over the years, the studio built a collection of these diverse prints known as the Serié Project and they became sought after for exhibitions across Texas and beyond. Ten prints by husband and wife San Antonio artists/educators, Luiz Valadez and Kim Bishop, showcase several giant (8’x4’) prints created by wood routers and printed by steam rollers. The couple have led many workshops with groups across Central Texas, including one at Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos in 2013. Two giant prints from that workshop are also on display — one by Robin Orta and one by former resident Bobby Thorpe.
May I Present… the River, by Robin Orta, San Marcos
Sixty diverse prints by area artists complete the exhibit. The Walker’s Gallery invites everyone to go online to the San Marcos Activity Center site and follow directions to sign up for a time to visit this fine exhibit before the end of March.
Exhibits at the Walkers’ Gallery are sponsored by the San Marcos Area Arts Council and the City of San Marcos Park and Recreation Department with support from the San Marcos Arts Commission.