Monday, January 3, 2011

Twenty Years and Counting

I don't want to get too sentimental here, but when I walked into the Austin Museum of Art's main galleries on a Saturday to see twenty years of our work on the walls, I felt just a tad overwhelmed.  Prints to the right and left of me, before and behind me tugging at all the memories of collaborating with the artists and the processes we used make the work happen. Stories welled up about what innovations, struggles and conquests we had to make get the work finished.  And here they were, a crowd of old friends, from over twenty years in one space, seeming very familiar but out of context and place.  In the AMoA galleries Mark Smith and Dana Friis-Hansen crafted the hanging of the exhibition in such a way that the works seem to have grouped themselves into compatible social circles.  They converse across the room to each other, making conversations that begged listening in upon.  Slowly, I started to see the finished works in a new way,  like seeing your adult children for the first time as separate and complete.

Walking into the first gallery, James Surls' "Night Vision,"  sitting low on the horizon, under the radar so to speak, springs into view  fully formed, highly articulate much like Minerva fully armed from Zeus's forehead,  It speaks clearly defining a mystical vantage point to the lush, green Samson Mnisi untitled monotype across from it.  The Mnisi's deep layers of tribal memories simply answer Surls' with quiet mystery.

In another room, there is a harmonious song between Liz Ward's incremental "Fossil", Joan Winter's "Still Water" and Linda Ridgway's "Mason Dixon Line."  I had just listened to Balmohea's "All Is Wild, All Is Silent" and felt as if I was seeing that music in the flesh.

It is time for another visit, and this time without the opening crowd.  I look forward to visiting these old friends...or are they adult children?  Regardless, it is good to see them out having a grand time with each other.

The exhibition, Advancing Tradition: Twenty Years of Printmaking at Flatbed Press, will be open at Austin Museum of Art until February 13.

Printeresting had an interview with Mark Smith and me that might help describe our work at Flatbed in case you are interested as well:

The museum is featuring an Artists' Reunion the afternoon of January 29 and we expect many of the Flatbed artists to travel to Austin for this event.  That same evening, Terry Allen and Bob Schneider, both Flatbed artists, will perform together for the first time at Antones Blues Club.  The performance is open to the public and tickets are on sale at Antones.

I hope to see you there!

Katherine Brimberry

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