Monday, June 24, 2013


Randy Twaddle at work on Lankydoo
I have been a long-time fan of Randy Twaddle and his large scale drawings. The conceptual underpinning of Randy's work is the tight balance and contrast of controlled, logical and systematic linear elements against the fluid beauty of chance, arbitrary, and atmospheric stains.  As a lover of art history, I compare his Transformer drawings to a marriage of the sensibilities of Michelangelo's Pieta with Helen Frankenthaler's Bilbao. Control and Determination meet Mystery and Flux.  Linear and Narrative meet Exponential and Free-forming.  When Randy accepted our invitation to come create work at Flatbed,  I was honored to be able to collaborate with him in a project.

Randy came to Flatbed to plan his etching and we discussed working with a Transformer image.  Randy's transformer images are influenced by heavy electrical wiring and transformers seen (and not really "seen") in our urban environment.  Randy has long been fascinated with these images and we deemed it ideal for the printmaking techniques of aquatint and line etching.  We determined that he would create the linear forms with line etching and tightly controlled aquatint etched to print a deep and dense black.  The free-form fluid "ground" to be printed in a transparent brown would be created with aquatint etched with his pouring a nitric acid solution directly onto the copper plate.  Randy would have some control over the directional "run" of the acid but ultimately, the flux of the acid would create its own shape and gradations.

Master Printer Tracy Mayrello proofing Lankydoo
The process of working with Randy to etch and proof two plates took about five days before we came up with the R.T.P., a right to print proof which determined how we were to print the edition. During the collaboration there were dramatic moments, not the least when Randy applied the liquid acid and gum Arabic mixture to the copper plate and holding and moving a large copper plate, while he controlled the direction of the "run" of the acid. The linear plate was straightforward for Randy to draw and for us to etch, but the primary variable of this etching proved to be the exact, transparent sepia colored "stain" ink for the background. Randy was fond of the stain that coffee makes on paper, and we attempted to get that luminous color by mixing several earth colors of inks and making the mixture very transparent.  However ink colors can vary even from reputable vendors, and after several weeks of re-mixing and ordering new inks then re-proofing, we achieved the right color and could go forward with the edition.  Editioning this large etching took two months, and Randy signed all the prints of the edition of 24 in July 2012.  

As is the case with all fine art prints as well as any art object, this work should be experienced first hand. Lankydoo is now on exhibition at Flatbed.  Our gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10am - 5pm and Saturday 10am - 3pm. We are also open by appointment to all who would like to see this or any of our prints outside of normal open hours.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Larry Scholder at Flatbed Press, 2009
A reception is planned this Friday evening, June 21 at Flatbed from 6 until 8 pm for Larry Scholder celebrating his exhibition Archive.  This exhibition of works does not constitute an archive or a collection of every print Larry has created, but in this case the title refers to Larry's shapes, lines, forms and minimal color that have become more than a visual vocabulary.  They are his Archive.

The show has been up for a few weeks now, and I get to linger and look longer than I usually do at exhibition openings.  I am reminded of Girogio Morandi and his archive of forms.  Like Morandi, Larry works with minimal forms and repeats them.  He also works with minimal color.  Stripping most of the color away from what might be considered biologically based shapes, we are left with bare, flattened shapes and the spaces between them.  These forms themselves are not the subject matter, but the relationship of the forms to each other and the space they occupy seem to become pressingly important.  Some of Larry's prints at times seem visually playful.  Two of Larry's relief etchings hang side by side.  Spawn I and Spawn II at first seem the same, and yet, with close inspection the minute difference start to sharply erupt on our vision and our visual memory is acutely challenged.
Scholder, After, aquatint, 2006

The exhibition represents nearly twenty years of Larry Scholder’s work as an artist/printmaker and constitutes a retrospective of his developing vision. Archive was first mounted at the Pollock Gallery of the Meadows School of Art at Southern Methodist University, where it was exhibited in the fall of 2012.  Scholder served as professor at SMU from 1968 until 2012.  In 1994, Flatbed published one of Scholder’s prints as a part of the Flatbed Portfolio and since that time he has continued to work with Flatbed on various intaglio projects.

Scholder, Apogee, aquatint, 2005
Archive will be up until August 24. Flatbed's gallery hours have changed and now are Tuesday - Friday 10 am until 5 pm and Saturday from 10 am until 3 pm.  We are also open by appointment.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Michael Ray Charles, White Power (REWOP ETIHW), hand-colored etching, edition of 50, 1994.

Twenty years ago Michael Ray Charles came to Flatbed to create an etching for the Texas Fine Art's annual membership print.  He was a new hire for the University of Texas Department of Fine Art and his work was attracting a great deal of attention nationally and internationally.  His paintings were disturbing to many because he used imagery based on stereotypical caricatures of African American people found in popular advertisements during the early to mid twentieth century.  Politically correct white artists and collectors had mixed feelings about Charles' work. My first reaction was a sense of discomfort and shame stemming from the fact that images like his had existed to degrade and demean African American people since the Jim Crow era.  Some African American artists and collectors had angry reactions.  Perhaps they felt that these images were too much of a reminder and reinforcement of the widely believed stereotypes laid on people of color.

Michael Ray Charles signing "BLACK CATS GO OFF"
Michael's TFAA project at Flatbed was a combination etching, lithograph, and linocut titled   Black Cats Go Off and signed as FFO OGOSTAC KCALB.  The backwards text was intentional.  Michael accepted an opportunity to create a second etching while he was in the studio to be a part of Flatbed Portfolio I, a collection of prints by Texas artists.  The artists included  in this portfolio had included:  Dan Rizzie, Larry Scholder, Melissa Miller and Terry Allen and went on to include Celia Munoz, Casey Williams, Luis Jimenez and Sandria Hu.  Each edition in the portfolio would be 50.  
For his Flatbed Portfolio I print, Michael created a hand-colored etching that featured a caricature of an African American boy eating a watermelon against a distressed, degraded background.  This is the kind of image you could find in American advertisements of the early to mid-twentieth century. The image was deeply etched into a scarred, irregularly shaped copper plate and when printed gave the appearance of a weathered and disintegrating broadside.  I found it uncomfortable to print this image at first, but the added backwards printed text, ETIHW REWOP, reshaped the image contextually.  The image was transformed into a statement about the backwards impact of "White Power." Michael explained that the image was created by whites but believed by blacks.  Now the image stood as an empty, backwards icon that should not and would not hold truth.  The power of the image was deconstructed just as a backwards reading WHITE POWER no longer made sense.

REWOP ETIHW, more often referred to as WHITE POWER, was released as a Flatbed publication in 1994.  It was not a popular print until 1997, when Michael's exhibitions in Austin, Germany and New York started receiving acclaim.  His images and ideas started to be understood and embraced.  In 2000, the Museum of Modern Art bought an impression for their collection, and over the next few years sales increased until all of Flatbed's impressions were sold.  

Recently, a collector who owns two impressions of WHITE POWER informed me that she was willing to sell both impressions and I have agreed to list these for sale on our web site.  The unique numbers of these impressions are 2/50 and 3/50. Both impressions have been framed professionally. This rare opportunity allows me the chance to show and write about WHITE POWER once again. For more information, you can contact me, Katherine Brimberry, through Flatbed Press.

It is said that the truth will set you free, even when it is uncomfortable.  Today when I see Michael's etchings created in 1994, those feelings of shame are gone and replaced by an awareness of the present.  The truth is that there are other stereotypical images that exist and live in movies, television, newspapers, novels and music that spread ideas of prejudice, racial stereotypes and racial profiling. These images are often more subtle than the WHITE POWER image, but they can be believed and ultimately do damage to us all.

For more information about Michael's work visit Flatbed's artist page at MICHAEL RAY CHARLES, see his interview on Art21 or visit his University of Texas website.  If you are interested in WHITE POWER, contact Flatbed Press at 512.477.9328 or email