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"