Printmakers Jesse Shaw, Kate VanVliet, and Chad Lassin at Paradigm Gallery + Studio

Kitty Caparella lauds Jesse Shaw's labor-intensive linoleum-cut prints, which evoke chaos while employing intricate detail, and comments on the work of the two other artists in this small show.

Jesse Shaw is a printmaker to watch.

Until Jan. 16, Shaw is showing only seven of his 27 linocuts from his American Epic series—eventually to number 50 prints—at Paradigm Gallery + Studio, 746 S. 4th St., where two other printmakers, Katie Van Vliet and Chad Lassin, are also exhibiting.

Inspired by Mexican muralist Jose Clemente Orozco’s “The Epic of American Civilization,” Shaw decided to create his own interpretation of the American story. He’s been working on the project for seven years.


Shaw’s wild alternate realities

Jesse Shaw, “American Ghosts”

His work shows his deep reading of eras and issues that have consumed the U.S. since its founding. It’s as though he put these ideas in his mind’s blender and spit them out into images that make one think, laugh, and recognize the often political or social narrative in his thoughtfully composed and printed works.

In “American Ghosts,” he has cut bizarre and creative imagery into 36-inch-high by 24-inch-wide linoleum, which he inked in black and printed on white paper. There are colonialists with fish-faces setting afire a solid black figure, while a farmer nearby feeds chickens. A plane flies through tears and stars above a window with (an apple?) pie on the sill. Elsewhere a woman kneels as her face partially melts in a field of fire. In the upper right corner is a helmeted conquistador with dozens of tongues coming out of his mouth, while in the left corner, an American eagle wields a sword.

Jesse Shaw, “American Consumerism I”

His images show an alternate reality that is both satirical and profound, as well in his other prints, such as “American Consumerism I,” “American Religion I,” “American Animals,” “American Landscape”. Only one work shows what its title represents: “American Flowers”. These are not wild, twisted, bizarre flowers, prompting the question of whether the print’s “normalcy” belongs in the American Epic series, which has been exhibited in New York, New Jersey, Nashville, and New Orleans.


Chad Lassin’s detailed geometry

Chad Lassin, “Toroidal Glow”

Lassin, a printmaker and painter interested in sacred geometry and ancient religious symbols, has used his protractor to create stencils for three prints—one looks like a meticulously drawn slinky in the round—on which he experiments with handmade iridescent paints and pigments, leading to variations for 10 mono prints and proofs, including one that glows in the dark. His printing is meticulous, and his choice of colors and backgrounds are on point, as he’s worked as head printer at Durham Press and is a founding member of BYO Print, a cooperative studio and artist collective in Kensington.

Kate VanVliet’s reminiscences

Kate VanVliet, “Dad’s Car Collection”

Kate VanVliet, also a co-founder of BYO Print, works with found objects and items that elicit nostalgia in nine prints, a body of work she titles Tools, Talismans and Totems.

After her father passed away, she found his collection of coins on which were printed antique cars. She cut out the tiny cars and printed them twice: In “Dad’s Car Collection,” the tiny cars are printed in two circles, while in “Dad’s Car Collection (Junkyard),” the cars are piled on top of each other. Both are printed in a rich, deep black ink, making the images pop from the paper.

Kate VanVliet, “Dad’s Car Collection (Junkyard)”

The two works best conveyed her stated concern about nostalgia, showing her father’s love of old cars.

Paradigm Gallery + Studio exhibition hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays between 12 pm – 6 pm, and 7 days a week by appointment. / (267)266-0073