Tuesday, December 18, 2012

To Dream

As an update to my previous blog about Mary Fielding McCleary's "Swan," I want to announce that her "Swan" is now known as "To Dream More, To Dream All the Time."  The edition is signed and the etchings are now available for purchase at Flatbed.

Mary's title was taken from the quote: "If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time. "
Marcel Proust

In this holiday season, we dreamers are dreaming of peace.  I don't want to imply specific content here, but McCleary's swan exists in that dream state where all is possible and the reality of a broken, harsh world isn't in sight.  Dreaming and believing may just be closer to reality than we think.  Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream.  He dreamed all the time.  I think we are closer to that dream than when he spoke in 1963.

So this is my (Flatbed's) holiday message.  This is a time to dream and share dreams.  This is a time to seek beauty.  This is the time to share and grow the peace.

Peace and goodwill,


Monday, December 3, 2012

Sangre de Cristo

Joel Salcido, Sangre de Cristo, chine collé, a la poupée polymer photogravure, edition of 24, 2012.
"The first thing I noticed when I entered the storage room inside the Tarahumara Indian Cusarare Mission, high in the Mexican Sierra Madre, was the "open wound" in the adobe wall, and then I noticed the crosses."

Joel Salcido, 1984

A good photograph captures moments, but a great photograph creates epiphany. Sometimes those greater moments have the power to become icons in our lives.  When Joel Salcido captured the moment of Sangre de Cristo twenty-eight years ago at the Tarahumara Mission using film and his 4 x 5 Hasselblad camera in a dimly lit storage area, it had a slim chance of capturing his vision. Yet, the strength of Joel's image has endured and this fall as we considered creating a photogravure etching together, Joel chose this photograph.  A polymer photogravure is a way of creating an etching starting with a photographic image.  The point of making an etching with the photograph is the ability of the etching medium to enhance both the visual and conceptual elements of the image.  Working with Master Printer, Tracy Mayrello, Joel found a way to transmit that moment in the Tarahumara storage area of the mission using the etching technique of a la poupée, selective inking.  The ediiton of 24 was signed today, December 3.  The image is 6" x 5" and is a chine collé  printed on Kitikata with a  15" x 11" Fabriano Artistico support and are now available at Flatbed.

Joel Salcido, well-known and collected photographer located in Austin, Texas, has had years of experience photo-documenting remote peoples, disaster areas, and the cultural turmoil on the border.  In 1991, he left his post as photo editor of the El Paso Times to pursue commercial and editorial photography.  Since then, he has produced work for galleries and publications like USA Today and Texas Highways.  Sangre de Cristo  is the second etching he has created and co-published with Flatbed Press.  For information about Sangre de Cristo's price and availability, link to Flatbed here: Sangre de Cristo.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Behind It All

Mary Fielding McCleary, "Traveler," Chine collé a la poupeé polymer-gravure, edition of 24, 2012.
Mary Fielding McCleary is best known for her amazing yet puzzling “paintings.” I wrote that with quotes because they are most often described as paintings, but in reality they are intricately built, dense collages made up of what I perceive as the flotsam and jetsam of contemporary living: discarded plastic parts, wooden coffee sticks, bits of string, bits of colorful paper all minutely configured to make up almost photo-realistic scenes that may (or may not) have narrative. They read like ancient tesserae works with content that may as easily come from the materials that make the work.  Named Texas Artist of the Year in 2011 by the Art League of Houston, Mary's work has had international acclaim.

Mary Fielding McCleary, "Between Darkness and Light," 2006
In 2005, Mary and I planned on working together for the first time. We floundered about as to how to transition her way of working into a printmaking technique without simply reproducing one of her finished paintings.  Mary revealed that all of her large works begin with an underpainting worked out in a monochromatic method.  Most often this is referred to as grisaille, and creating it helped her plan and shape the finished collage work. When she showed me an example of her grisaille, we decided to go forward with making a polymer-gravure etching using a specially created grisaille painting as its starting point. From that first collaboration came “Fallen, Fallen, Light Renew” and “Between Darkness and Light.”

This year, Mary has returned to collaborate on two new etchings and we are now in the process of printing two editions of these images which were created in the same way. Mary chose two images that might seem radically different from each other, but I think of them as two movements from the same symphony that she is composing. Her work moves into the dark, mysterious realm at times and can turn and go into a space of lyric poetry. We are pleased to have these two new works underway, and want to offer them as pre-published works to her collectors. 

The first, “Traveler,” features a suburban male, perhaps a young teen, facing us with a full “war paint” face. He is defiant, and he is outside partially dressed in what appears to be winter. Suburbia is decked out in holiday décor but the decorations are askew and puzzling. Is he defiant to the culture and yearning for the primitive? Is he deluding himself that he doesn’t belong to the times and place around him? Can we even side with him or the culture? What kind of separation has happened here? 

Mary Fielding McCleary, "Swan," Polymer-gravure etching, edition of 24, 2012.
Just when we have been drawn into this tumult, we look to her other etching, “Swan,” and find a dark, watery world upon which a swan effortlessly swims.  He is solid upon liquid. There are no questions, but there is reassurance that all is right and all is good.

If you are interested in either of these classic McCleary images, they are currently in production, and pre-publication prices will be available only until the prints are signed before Christmas.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Her Majesty (su majestad)

Her Majesty (su majestad) by Sandra Fernandez
When you think of a Queen, in all of her majesty, you may envision a highly decorated, intricately dressed, crowned image of a woman with scepter like Queen Elizabeth the First in Coronation Robes by an unknown artist (Queen Elizabeth I).  Elizabeth presents herself in the painting with all the symbols of her God given power and authority. She is perfection, beyond reproach, and perhaps scarcely human.

Contrast this to the new etching by Sandra C. Fernandez, Her Majesty (su majestad).   Sandra gives us the soul of the queen, the very essence of her with the barest of linear elements.  She holds her scepter, she moves forward with history about her in a skirt of words.  She appears to be stitched together, held with threads and yet her energy is substantial.

Detail of Her Majesty (su majestad) skirt
Sandra C. Fernandez is a Latino artist who was born in the USA but spent her formative years in Quito, Ecuador.  In 1987 she returned to live in the United States, and in 1995 she earned her MFA in printmaking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  After coming to Austin in 2004, she came to know us at Flatbed and became an important part of Austin's art community.  Sandra is now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas in Austin and also serves as Co-Director of the Guest Artists in Printmaking Program (GAPP) there.

Sandra has made six prints with Flatbed Press and this summer began the seventh, Her Majesty.  Since she is an accomplished printmaker, our collaboration with Sandra involved assisting her with etching, proofing and editioning.  She developed her image from her experience working with intaglio techniques and her use of sewn lines from the constructions, fine art books and sculptures that she fabricates.  She began by cutting her large copper plate into a trapezoid shape, a shape that set the stage for her stripped clean existential figure to dominate its compressed space.   Sandra created lines first by stitching the figure onto paper and transferring the stitching the the plate by pressing the stitching into the soft-ground covered copper plate.  The impressions of the stitching were carefully etched to hold the ink.  The etched figure was printed in two colors:  sepia for the body's lines and red for the scepter and skirt.  Her skirt, which is a chine collé element, is made of stitched together book pages from a 1730's London publication of the State Trials and Proceedings upon High Treason and other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the reign of King Richard II to the end of the reign of King George I.  She lifts her scepter to rule with the history cinched around her waist.  She is Her Majesty.

The edition of 20 prints was signed October 25 and is now available through Flatbed Press or The Gallery at Shoal Creek.  Long Live the Queen.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Moveable Feast: Taking Flatbed to Luis

Luis Jimenez, "Adan", soft-ground etching, edition of 30, 1997.
Jimenez, "Raven Skull," edition of 75, 1997
Ordinarily, an artist comes to our studio to work.  We have great presses, controlled acid baths and all the grounds, paper and inks that we need to work well.  However, one of our best projects had its beginning in the foothills of the New Mexico mountains with Luis Jimenez during the summer of 1997.  Luis was no stranger to making etchings and lithographs.  We had just finished his "Self Portrait" the previous year. This summer he was a very busy man working on his 9,000-pound, 32 foot high fiberglass statue of a bronco which was commissioned for the Denver International Airport.  Luis was also a very generous man and often donated his work to non-profit groups.  He had consented to make a small print for the Dallas Visual Art Association, now known as the Dallas Contemporary.  The DVAA offered a print from a select artist once a year to its supporters.  We were chosen to be the print shop to work with Luis for the 1997 print which was to be distributed that September.  Instead of bringing Luis down the mountain to Flatbed in Austin, I decided to travel there and work with him at his own Hondo, New Mexico studio.

Jimenez, "Annie", edition of 30, 1997.
Luis’s studio was a huge old apple-processing warehouse.  In one room he had an antique etching press, circa 1840.  It had curious damage on its printing bed that looked like impressions of wrenches.  Luis told me that this was evidence of damage done by luddites, an original “throw a monkey wrench in it” group.  I set up a modest print shop there, with a pancake griddle for a hot plate.  I had brought soft ground and inks with which to print.  With a little coaching I learned to use his press.  The four plates I brought were small, two 5” x 5” and two 5” x 7” polished pieces of copper plate.  Luis took time from the sculpture to draw on the soft-grounded plates.  There was no preparation on his part; he drew from his heart what he loved:  “Adan”, his son, “Annie” his favorite horse, “Mares,” the horses he loved, and “Raven Skull,” the skull of the fledgling bird he had rescued and raised after it fell from its nest.  The magic of the mountains brought surprises with the liquid soft ground we applied with a brush.  It created beautiful reticulated backgrounds that might be mistaken as aquatints.  We proofed the plates and they were good.

Jimenez, "Mares," edition of 75, 1997.
I returned to Austin and the plates were editioned by Jerry Manson, master printer of editoning at Flatbed.  Dallas Visual Arts Association chose “Mares” for the collectors’ edition and Luis chose “Raven Skull” as an edition for himself.  “Adan” and “Annie” became editions of 30 published by Flatbed.

Luis lived nine more years and worked with us again in 2006 on two lithographs.  His death was a tragic accident involving machinery failure while finishing the Denver bronco.  He lived well and died well. Bringing Flatbed to him on his mountain was an honor and a very rare privilege.  I can’t help but think that these four small prints encapsulated that moment of late summer, late life and a side of Luis that few have been privileged to share.    

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Late Bloomer

Piccolo Fiore, Hand-colored etching, edition of 46, 2007
 I have great respect for artists that come to work with us at Flatbed.  They come from their studios where for the most part they work in solitude to Flatbed where they work in collaboration with a master printer who guides them in their mark making through a maze of technical operations.  The objective is to create an image that can be printed from a matrix such as a copper plate in the case of etching or aluminum plate when creating a lithograph. Because this can be confusing or unfamiliar, when we work with an artist for the first time we do a small “test” plate. This initial step helps both the collaborating printer and the artist know what to expect from the technique they have chosen and how to proceed with the planned project. Occasionally our “test” plates have been so successful that they have become the finished matrix for printing an actual edition!  Terry Allen’s Caged, Suzi Davidoff’s Escobilla Study and John O’Buck’s Arcadia are three exquisite, small jewels that began as “tests.” 

Dan Rizzie signing "Piccolo Fiore"
However, there is one that almost got away from us.  It is the test that became Piccolo Fiore by Dan Rizzie.  Dan came to Flatbed for the first time in February, 1993.  He was experienced in making prints, especially monotypes and was full of enthusiasm at trying his hand at an etching at Flatbed.  Since we wanted to try an aquatint process called “sugar lift” we chose a tiny 3” x 4” copper plate for him to test the sugar-ink solution.  It was a rough plate with a few scratches.  Dan used a small brush to paint a small flower with the sugary ink onto the plate. We applied hard ground over the drawing and “lifted” the sugar ink drawing off the plate in a hot water bath.  It lifted beautifully revealing the drawing as clean copper surrounded by the dark hard ground.  Next, the plate with its image was covered with rosin powder and heated until the powder melted (aquatint.)  The prepared plate was put into the acid bath to etch the flower now seen as open copper areas. We left it while we worked with Dan on a larger plate with the same sugary ink since it had proved to lift so well. Some hours later, when we went to etch the next plate, the little Piccolo Fiore plate was discovered still in the acid, having etched for seven hours instead of one.  The acid had eaten away the edges of the plate and even through some spots on the plate, but Dan’s aquatint flower was surprisingly preserved.  We printed a few proofs of the plate, admired the “organic” quality of the plate and turned our attention to the larger print in progress. Dan kept the proofs of the little print and we put the plate away.

Fast-forward 14 years to 2007.  Dan and I had a phone conversation about our new project, Blackberry Thieves, which was in progress at Flatbed.  Dan had found our old flower proofs and wondered if we might try to print it for a small edition.  Of course we did have the plate, since we keep every old plate for our archives.  The editioned ones are struck (cancelled in some way) and a few uneditioned ones are stored and often forgotten.  Thus was Piccolo Fiore found, resurrected and printed.  Dan hand colored all the final impressions in the edition.  It is a jewel.  It is our favorite late bloomer.    
Veronica Ceci, Editioning Printer and Katherine Brimberry 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Alchemy of Fire and Ice

There are times when making a print comes close to alchemy.  That ancient practice of taking base materials and transforming them describes what we aspire to do in making art with copper, acid, rosins, ink and paper.  In Liz Ward's case she captured ice with fire.

Liz Ward is an artist who understands this and uses experimental image making in her water-color art practice.  Previously at Flatbed, we have worked with Liz on the Increment Suite, a suite of large etchings, Fossil,Poza, Stone Pools, Limpit, and Hoja created incrementally with printmaking techniques to conceptually and visually capture the slow growth and decline of form in the natural world.

This past year we were honored to work with Liz once more. We planned to create two new etchings that would be a part of her recent “Deep Time” series, which references images of ice cores and includes other works responding to “the sublime beauty and alarming imperilment of ice phenomena.” (Liz Ward)  In planning for the project we discussed some experimental methods to create new forms for these etchings.  We also planned that the prints mirror some of the paintings which are vertical, tall, narrow formats.  She explained her interest about how the glacial arctic ice captures environmental information over eons of time.  The  accumulations of ice and other matter can be seen and studied in the core samples taken from glaciers.  Liz is inspired in her paintings by this knowledge and conceptually goes about exploring art making using methods not unlike the building processes of glaciers.  Her articulate statement can be found here:  “Deep Time.”

One of the  experimental techniques we used to start the new print, Ice Core, was for Liz to place small smooth glacially formed stones on a copper plate that was coated with fused rosin (aquatint).  Liz applied a strong "hot" nitric acid mix which we call “spit-bite” to the base of each stone.  The stones themselves created natural harbors and resists for the acid and the results were shadowy stone shapes of varying values. 
Liz Ward, Katherine Brimberry & Cynthia Craig

Glacial Ghost and Fossil Flowers

Liz added her hand-drawn lines to this plate to create the incremental contours indicating added layers of ice through time.  On another matching plate of copper we prepared a fused aquatint onto which Liz directly applied the nitric acid mix with a wide brush in an orchestrated, painterly way so that the plate could be etched from a darker to a lighter value.  The results are a watery tone moving from bottom to top, from dark to light.  The plates were printed in succession onto a Japanese paper with transparent mixtures of ink. 

With the addition of the second etching, Glacial Ghost with Fossil Flowers, which used other experimental mark making in its making, the suite was complete, the plates finished and editions of 40 begun.  Each print is a reading of the alchemy practiced on the plates.  The “Deep Time” prints are available singly or as a suite.

Monday, September 3, 2012

James Surls and the Evolution of the Flatbed Suite

It was 1999 and one of Texas’s major artists, James Surls, was making a move from Splendora, Texas to Colorado.  He and his family had decided to relocate to Basalt, Colorado near the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Aspen where he and his wife, Charmaine, had been teaching and working during the past few years.  As his family went before, James stayed behind to close up his studio at Splendora near Houston. James and I had been talking about making a suite of prints and so during this time of transition, he decided to take the time to come to Flatbed.

However, there was a stipulation.  James had a request, “I want to make this suite only if you can make this print transparent enough so that if we print on both sides we’ll be able to see both sides at once.”  As Master Printer, I had not done this before but, on a hunch, I tried soaking Asian papers which are lightweight in what is known as “straw-hat varnish,” an alcohol-rosin solution.  It worked beautifully as long as the solution was weak. Our concern was whether this solution was archival.  One of my printers at the time, Pat Masterson, had a cousin working for Sotheby’s and we learned through her and other research that prints from the 1800’s were varnished with the same solution and suffered no degradation. 
James came to Flatbed and drew using soft ground on the square copper plates.  It is always a pleasure to be there when he draws.  He draws with such conviction and sureness; there is no hesitation and the drawing seems to fall fully formed from his hand.  After the first drawing was complete, we etched the copper plate and printed proofs onto lightweight Thai Chiri paper, a favorite Asian paper we had previously used with James.  It is of natural color with organic bits of the chiri bark. We printed the same plate on both sides of the paper.  While James watched, we soaked the print with the varnish and miraculously, the mirror image from the back appeared.  The new image is the combination of the image and mirror image. As James explained, the image was both in two places and in one place at the same time.  It became our quantum physics “the cat is dead and in the box, and the cat is not dead and not in the box” print.  It expressed deeply what it is like to be here and there at the same time; to be in Colorado and Texas at the same time.

Surls went on to draw and etch a total of five plates for the suite which we now call the Flatbed Suite:  Giver, Shirt, Bridge, Faces, and Hands. The transparentized and colléd etchings were printed in editions of 21.  All are available as suites of five or individually.

For more information about James Surls' etchings and woodcuts go to Flatbed's web page:  James Surls at Flatbed Press, but for the best viewing, visit Flatbed Press and Gallery at 2832 East MLK Jr., Austin, Texas  78702.

Photos:  Top to bottom, left to right:  Faces, Giver, Hands,Shirt, and Bridge, chine collé soft-ground etchings, 26" x 22" paper size, editions of 21.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Song of a Red Winged Blackbird

There is a red winged blackbird and it is perched on a bare brown twig. Behind him is an arabesque riot of dark and lighter green foliage.  He has been discovered while in full song and sees us mid-note.  He holds us with his gaze.  Billy Hassel created this beauty of an etching at Flatbed and it was editioned in 2007.

When a painter who loves color as much as Billy Hassell comes to make an etching at Flatbed, a separate copper plate must be etched for each color. This can be complicated but the results can be rich.

Billy Hassell is well known as a painter and lives in Fort Worth, Texas.  When he came to Flatbed to work he had images of richly colored birds on his mind.  As a painter, he had been creating large paintings of birds and wanted to create unique multiples of one of his abstracted images in color.  We decided on a square format featuring his image of a bird, a red winged blackbird, using 12” x 12” copper etching plates. Making a multiple plate/color etching is similar to building an image one color at a time. This particular etching technique required us to use an aquatint process.  In this case, Billy painted the shapes we needed to etch directly onto the plates and we used a technique called “sugar-lift aquatint” to create the four plates.  His abstract rendition of “Red Winged Black Bird” started to take shape as we etched yellow, red, blue and black plates with aquatinted areas that would overlap and build the final image.  The floral green background of the image was achieved with blue overlapping yellow, the violet with blue overlapping red, and so on.  In trying different printing papers we discovered if we printed on an Asian Kitikata paper, we could achieve another depth of color. This way of printing required an additional step in which the Asian paper was collaged onto a heavier backing paper to give it support.  Billy signed one of these prints as the B.A.T. which stands for “Bon A Tier” a French term meaning  “good to pull” or good to print.  Our job as the printers was to make the multiples in the edition match this signed print.  We agreed to do an edition of 40.
The printing took a team of four printers including myself, Teresa Gomez Martorell, Lucy Flores and Amy Spencer.  Each printer took charge of one of the four plates and a registration system was devised to make sure that the colors registered precisely.  Although this system was a little out of the ordinary, it worked.  I made a video that might give you a little insight as to how this was all accomplished.   

Despite the complications, it all felt worthwhile when those forty impressions were finally finished and signed by Billy. The Blackbird still sings and most have flown, but there are two impressions left.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Introductions Are In Order

It could have been difficult with the transitions we are experiencing at Flatbed, but sometimes the changing of the guard can go with military smoothness. When you come to Flatbed these days you will likely be welcomed by Tina Weitz who is now on board as Flatbed’s Gallery Assistant Director. Under her direction, Flatbed’s reorganization is making smooth and steady progress and her commitment to being at Flatbed on Saturdays makes visiting our gallery a great Saturday destination!

 Tina came to Flatbed with extensive gallery experience, having owned and directed Studio2 in Austin for ten years. She has served as juror and judge for over 50 exhibitions since 2002. Studio2 is still operates with regular pop-up shows which leaves Tina time to concentrate her talents on Flatbed’s exhibitions and to manage Flatbed’s 02 Gallery space, now open for exhibition proposals. She is also a well-known and exhibited photographer. She has participated in numerous exhibitions, regularly offers photography workshops and is well known for her expertise in architectural photography in the design world.

Stop in and meet Tina. She'd love to show you what Flatbed as been up to this summer.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Is For Artist Allen

If I were to write an alphabet book for artists, this image would be the first page.  This is the etching "All Artists Try To Be God And Will Burn in Hell" by Terry Allen.  Terry, who has worked at Flatbed on two separate occassions, did this print in August 1998.  It was his second time around at Flatbed.  He approaches printmaking with a very direct approach.  He knows what he wants to say or draw and uses the most effective way to go about it.  In this print's case, Terry had been playing around with this image for a while.  He had even created a branding iron and burned it onto various surfaces!  For you Nauman savvy collectors out there, yes, he just might be poking a little fun at Bruce.  Terry's supreme sense of irony responds to Nauman's "The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths."  Allen, having grown up in the Bible Belt, gives us the other side of the coin.

In this case, Terry scribed the image in reverse onto a grounded copper plate which I etched very deeply.  It took several hours.  Terry would say, "Etch the hell out of it."  I think he meant that literally.  The plate was proofed in several reds but a deep, complex "blood" red was chosen.  The plate was etched so deeply that when printed, the ink stands on the surface of the paper.  He chose a skin colored Japanese paper (no accident there) called Okawara. We printed it as a chine collé with a large backing of Rives BFK in an edition of 21. (Allen likes the number 21.)   Flatbed published this print in 1998, and we still have a couple of impressions in stock.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

To Be Continued...A New Project

Although the dog days of August are upon us, we at Flatbed have been staying busy with multiple printing projects, our summer exhibition and an overall reorganization of our print files.  It's time to update you on these and other exciting changes that are ongoing at Flatbed.

 With the help of our dedicated assistants we have been reorganizing and inventorying all the prints in our flat files.  We are combing our drawers and re-discovering some rarely seen and beautiful works that have been created at Flatbed over the years.  It makes our job of cataloging these works a true labor of love with some eureka moments:  "Wow, I remember that one." "Why isn't this framed!?" and  "Look at that one...I remember what we had to do..." Then I usually launch into the history of the collaboration involved in making that print.  Needless to say, our project is taking much more time than I had planned.

Seeing this visual feast has brought me to somewhat of a mid-summer's dream, or perhaps a resolution.  I plan to write a short and candid history of some of the print collaborations that I've been reminded of this summer. I'll post it weekly for all of you Flatbed fans who would like to know a little about the back stories. If this is too much information for you to bear, gentle readers, please let me know.  In fact, I would love to have your suggestions as to which prints you would like to know more about, as well!  Look for this to start on Monday, August 13.

Meanwhile, here is a little eye candy, a monoprint by Veronica Ceci entitled "Uploading Rialto."  I encourage you to drop by tomorrow, August 9, for the last full day of our summer exhibition, "The World is Flat: The Observational Printmaking of Veronica Ceci." Veronica, our Lithographic Master Printer, is leaving for Kent State to pursue her MFA.  This fine exhibition of primarily monoprinted images is worth taking a closer look and you may even want to take one home. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Milepost 23

When Mark Smith and I started our business partnership as Flatbed Press twenty-three years ago, I don't think either of us anticipated what our efforts were going to bring.  The time we have worked together has been rich with relationships with our artists and we take great pride in the work that we have been able to help them create as fine art prints.  As it worked out, Mark has been the front guy...the guy with the great eye and a unique ability to put into words those intangible ideas and feelings related to the work.  He has also been as one of our artists described the "principal" of Flatbed, sometimes called "head-honcho."  Primarily he has had an uncanny way of navigating our Flatbed ship through a lot of uncertain times.  He has a cool head, great eye, and a generous heart.  I am honored to have been his business partner.


After twenty-three years at Flatbed and forty years in Austin, I've done about all the damage I can do here.  Last year, my family and I relocated to Fort Worth, where I began work as a guest curator at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.  I was honored with the inaugural printmaking residency at Tarrant Co. College-South.  I have been at Flatbed only on the weekends.  This summer, I'm planning an even bigger move to Indianpolis, Indiana.  There, I will join my wife the Rev. Janet Maykus, who is the new executive vice president for operations in the offices of the Christian Church-Disciples of Christ.  Flatbed has been my life for over two decades; working with Katherine Brimberry and our printers and all the artists and our collectors has been more rewarding than I could ever say. My heart will always be in Austin, but I am excited about contributing to the print world in the midwest.  I'll be taking with me a little Texas soil.

Monday, May 14, 2012

When the Artist Signs


There may be a lot of mystery about the artist's signature on a fine art print.  For all of us here at Flatbed, the day the artist comes to sign their edition is a day of celebration, because weeks and sometimes months of print work is validated by the artist's approval of each of those prints shown in their signature.  After the signing, the etching, lithograph, woodcut, or monotype is not only approved by the signature, but it also bears a unique number or letter combination that makes that print an art object that can be tracked and records kept of its provenance.

Recently we had a "signing."  Liz Ward came to sign two editions that had taken several months to complete.  Last summer we worked on two images with copper etching techniques.  Liz's watercolors inspired her to use "spit-bite" aquatint techniques, which allowed her to apply acid directly to the copper plates for watery textures.  She also drew detailed and dense fine lines into some of the plates.  The finished plates were printed onto a lighter weight Japanese paper called Shiramine and the results were stunning.

Next came the weeks of printing and drying of the prints.  That was Flatbed's job, to print them to Liz's specifications.  When the prints were ready, she came to see them and sign what she approved.  The two editions were thirty each.  Sixty beautiful prints were approved and signed with graphite pencil.  Each print was numbered with its own unique number starting with 1/30, 2/30 and so on.  Artist Proofs marked AP and numbered are signed and Flatbed Impressions, our publisher proofs, are signed with Flatbed and numbered with Roman numerals.  The ones that were not approved were destroyed.  Mystery solved!  Liz's two works:  "Ice Core" and "Glacial Ghost with Fossil Flowers," are now released for sale.  
The etchings are a part of the on-going body of work that Liz titles “Deep Time.”  She references images of ice cores and other ice forms creating works that respond to the sublime yet fragile beauty of glaciers.  The etchings, “Ice Core” and “Glacial Ghost with Fossil Flowers” were created with printmaking techniques that mirrored the gradual growth, death, fossilization, incremental layering and shrinking that is evident in glacial formation and the evident deformation of icebergs and glaciers.  Each of the Deep Time etchings are in editions of 30 and measure 34” x 14” on 40” x 18” Japanese Shiramine paper. 

The retail price for each print is $1,400 and the pair is available at $2,500.  As an initial new publication offering, the Deep Time prints will be discounted 20% to the public until June 1.    

 Top:  "Glacier Ghost with Fossil Flowers"
Bottom:  "Ice Core"