Printmaking was once the realm of the inky fingered. But today a lot of printing takes place on digital printers, where the ink is in cartridges and the only dirty fingers belong to those who service the machines. Gallery Joe‘s two new Philagrafika-related shows, “Appropriate, Manipulate, Duplicate” and “Big Ditty” are full of ink jet prints and other manifestations of works run through a computer.
Appropriate, Manipulate, Duplicate
Gil Kerlin’s two new prints, made from scans of a drawing and of a piece of found crumpled tin foil, are perhaps the most surprising works here. Kerlin, who told me, with something akin to glee, that once he scanned the work it took him no more than fifteen minutes in Photoshop to mirror, tile, re-mirror and, voila, produce the file that is the basis of his finished work. It’s hard to believe since there’s a complication factor that suggests a mountain of manipulating.
The two works are almost mystical offerings that capture the eye and keep feeding it with new details of shape and texture. It’s pointless to resist the charms of the dark nooks, crannies and faces created as a million Gothic stories are suggested. That one of the works is called VISHU, the word for a vernal equinox festival in Southern India whose name in Sanskrit means “equal” refers you to a culture whose spiritual practices include mandalas. Of course with their Photoshop mirroring and duplicating the works are kaleidoscopic as well.
The most traditional work in the show hearkens back to the pre-computer age. Eva Wylie’s labor-intensive silk screen mural is totally real world stuff made using four screens and taking four days for the artists and her assistants to install, said gallerist Becky Kerlin.
What’s wild and unbridled about Wylie’s piece, Embedded Threads, is its chosen support, not paper but the wall. Wylie’s been printing on walls for several years now indicating her determination to create and destroy works of beauty (this wall, like all her previous works, will be painted over at the end of the exhibit). While I have to wonder about the economic feasibility of working so ephemerally I do love the idea of the works being like fairy dust sprinkled on and then disappearing into the ether. This is one of Wylie’s best. It is as ebullient as a hot air balloon rising and quite as captivating.
Others in the show are William Betts, Ati Maier and Andrew Millner.
Shelley Spector’s “Money Quilt,” part of her solo outing in the gallery’s Vault space does something so simple I marveled that I hadn’t seen it before. The patchwork of greenish squares is based on repeat design elements from the $1 bill, the bill so common its design elements are completely overlooked.
Spector told me she got the images printed on fabric at an online printer, getting squares of one design printed together that she later cut apart into the patchwork squares. It’s a smart move making use of the age-old truth about printing, economies of scale will accrue when you print multiples. Spector, who is known for her wood sculpture, sewed the quilt herself.
And she’s got three small sculptures in the show — cut paper stacks resembling oil cans of various dimensions. The paper oil cans (from found scraps of paper from friends and from print shops in town) immediately had me wanting one. At $325 and $425 the small cans are pretty affordable. The threesome, at $1950, should be snapped up by Sunoco for their corporate art collection. Seriously.