Monday, April 16, 2018

From Battleships to Bird Art at the Camden Library

Hey, Maine peeps! This Thursday evening, April 19, I'll be giving at presentation at the Camden Library, 55 Main Street. Event is free and open to the public, so come on out!

"Dinner Party," reduction linocut, © Sherrie York

Sherrie York presents “From Battleships to Bird Art” as part of the Midcoast Maine Audubon lecture series on April 19, 2018, at 7:00 pm. The talk aligns with Maritime Month 2018 at Camden Public Library.  How did a material created for battleship flooring become a medium for bird art? Linoleum block prints, or linocuts, share their origins with naval ships, their process with woodcuts, and their history with artists from Picasso to Queen Elizabeth. Visually, linocut styles run the gamut from graphic social commentary to delicate floral, landscape, and wildlife images. 

Internationally recognized linocut printmaker Sherrie York will share her own linocut process, inspiration, and frequently bird-focused work. Her linocuts have been presented in national and international exhibitions, including the Woodson Art Museum’s prestigious “Birds in Art,” and the Society of Animal Artists’ “Art & the Animal,” and her work is represented in corporate and museum collections in the United States and abroad. She serves on the board of the Society of Animal Artists and is the Coordinator of the Audubon Artist Residency at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Bremen.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Lost in transition

My search for a place to live and work here in Maine continues. It has been a frustrating process, but my friend Sue encourages me to stay calm. “Maine challenges you the first year,” she says, “to test your resolve.”

Okay, Maine. Bring it. 

There have been several bright spots lately, though!

Green Lion Gallery

The Green Lion Gallery in Bath. This gorgeous space is owned and nurtured by artist/printmaker David Morgan. The Green Lion represents mostly (but not only) printmakers and artists who create work on paper. The space has a great vibe, and it has an Ettan press in the back. Dave was kind enough to offer me some press time a couple of weeks ago, and I managed to create three small (4x6”) blocks. I printed on 300# watercolor paper and then hand-painted them. I was reasonably pleased with the results AND the feeling of shaking out a few cobwebs. 

Green Lion Gallery

New linos!

Inspiration for the new images was the March 11 Mass Audubon Birders Meeting in Boston. It’s still a bit surreal to me to realize that I can now drive to Boston in about the same amount of time it took me to drive from Salida to Denver. The scenery is certainly different, and the traffic once one hits Boston is worse (which hardly seems possible), but it's totally doable. 

Linocuts all set up and ready for visitors at the Birders Meeting

The Birders Meeting is a one-day event, but I arrived a little early and stayed a little late to have the opportunity to catch up with colleagues and friends at the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon

Evening comes to MABA

MABA is a small museum with a big heart and a collection that packs a big punch. Part of the reason for my early arrival was an opportunity to hear Paul and Alan Singer, the sons of artist Arthur Singer, speak about their father's work. The brothers have recently released a comprehensive and lovely book celebrating Arthur Singer's life and career, and MABA hosted the lecture, book signing, and an exhibit of some of Singer's original works.

Additionally, the museum's current main exhibition is "Waterbirds," featuring paintings, prints, and sculpture from their permanent collection. Selections include work from Audubon to Warhol... bird art aficionados will also drool over pieces by Frank Benson, Sir Peter Scott, Don Eckelberry, Barry Van Dusen, Keith Shackleton, Anne Faust... and my design hero Frances Lee Jaques. It's remarkably difficult to find a centralized online location for Jaques' work, but trust me, you need to Google for images. The paintings are nice, but the black and white illustrations will knock your socks off. (The Jaques Art Center in Minnesota has a little blurb about him, but not many images.)

Nubble Light at Cape Neddick, Maine

On my way home from Boston I stopped at the Nubble Lighthouse / Cape Neddick in southern Maine. The day was windy and cold, alternating between bright sun and clouds, but I was on a mission! I had heard the Cape could be a place to find dovekie, a cute little auk which I had never seen. I identified two other life birds, thick-billed murre and black scoter, before I finally spotted the stubby little critter bobbing around offshore. I snapped a couple of photos that were horribly distant and blurry but contained enough information to later confirm the ID. Hooray!

Yes. Dovekie has entered the queue for new linos.

The next day we had our third nor'easter in less than two weeks, with our second blanket of about 20 inches of snow. Enough already!

So what next? I'm still on the hunt for home and studio, but life and work have to move forward no matter what. April 19th I'll be presenting a program at the Camden Library for Midcoast Audubon. Also, registration is now open for a leather journal-making workshop at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, April 27. Also in April, I'll have some work presented by the Green Lion Gallery at the Boston Print Fair. I'm also deep in image design for posters for the International Loon / Diver Symposium coming up in Portland in 2019. I may be unsettled, but I'm certainly not bored!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Young Printmakers at the Woodson Art Museum: Week Two

When we last left our printmaking heroine, she and her trusty sidekick, Woodson Art Museum Education Curator Catie Anderson, had just wrapped up a week that involved carving tools in the hands of 4th grade through adult learners. I'm delighted to report only one small bandaid required in a pool of 180 rookie carvers.

But for Week Two we put away the sharp implements and loaded up a travel crate with all the accoutrements required for an inky adventure. (Read: Many, many packages of hand wipes.) We were taking our print-and-pony show on the road!

The blocks the students carved the previous week were 4" x 4" in size. Their first step this week was to print their block four separate times on small sheets of paper. This gave them time to get a feel for the proper amount of ink and hand pressure to apply, and it provided four little prints that could be manipulated to determine a final design. Our goal was to print each individual block 4 times on a 10" x10" fabric square that would ultimately be assembled as a classroom wall hanging or quilt.

Once the students determined their 4-print pattern, they practiced printing on a larger sheet of paper.

5th graders with their larger repeated-pattern prints
Printmakers. All of them. And isn't this a spectacular art room?

Once they settled on their overall design, students printed their 4-up pattern one more time on to fabric squares. So satisfying.

Let's see... let's do some quick math. 150 students times at least 12 impressions of their blocks... that's a minimum of 1,800 print impressions in 5 days. Pretty. Darn. Awesome.

Plus I have to say that you haven't lived until you've prepped and cleaned up more than a dozen inking slabs and brayers over and over during a week. I owe so many thanks to Education Curator Catie Anderson for spending epic amounts of time at the sink, in addition to organizing our travel, coordinating with schools, gathering our supplies, providing amazing classroom input and backup, and lots of great conversation on the road. (Once she had enough coffee. ;-))

Finally, kudos once again to the entire Woodson Art Museum staff and all their members and volunteers. The museum is an amazing resource and it's clear how dedicated they are to supporting their community, its educators, and its students. It's always a privilege working with such an amazing organization, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to introduce printmaking to a wide audience. Let's do it again some time!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Young Printmakers at the Woodson Art Museum: Week One

Ready for students in the Woodson Art Museum classroom.

And there goes February. Did you see it? Me, neither.

At the beginning of the month I headed off to Wisconsin and a two-week Visiting Artist Residency at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. During my visit I worked with 150 students in grades 4-12, and about 30 adults, creating relief prints. I'm back in Maine now (with a rotten cold, go figure), but wanted to share some images from this great experience. There are TONS more photos on the Woodson museum's Facebook page if you're itching to see some.

During the first week of my visit the students traveled to the museum and during the second I traveled to their schools. This is a risky proposition in Wisconsin in February, but we were fortunate to have two weeks of clear (but cold) weather, especially since most of the participating schools were about an hour away from the museum.

Week One sessions included a quick visit to the main galleries of the museum and two concurrent temporary exhibitions: Wild Fabrications, which featured studio art quilts with an animal theme, and Explorations in Wood, which included both functional and sculptural works.

Looking for graphic patterns in art quilts. R Wunsch/LYWAM photo

While in the galleries, students were asked to looked for strong graphic pattern elements as well as aspects of animals that might be incorporated into their own designs.

Downstairs in the classroom we first drew thumbnail designs for relief blocks, then transferred the drawings and carved. We accomplished a lot in less than two hours!

Designing for repeating print patterns. R Wunsch/LYWAM photo

5th graders hard at work.

Next week... Printing!

But before printing week I also got to work with a couple of adult groups, including area teachers who were invited to a free printmaking workshop at the museum. (Complete with coffee and snacks!)

Beginning experiments

Oops! A couple of people are missing, gone to pick up some art supplies,
also provided by the thoroughly awesome Woodson Art Museum.

We treated the afternoon as an experimental print lab, trying simple two color reduction prints, different color combinations, and overprinting two different images.

I really enjoyed this afternoon with teachers and was grateful for the opportunity to facilitate some personal creative time and casual interaction among art education professionals.

Lest you think it was two weeks of all work and no play... I did get out for a few hours to do a little birding. One of the museum curators and his wife shared their Sunday with me... we picked up what I think were my lifer snow buntings and three snowy owls. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Stay tuned for Week Two and some amazing student work....

Friday, January 19, 2018

Visiting Artist Residency: Woodson Art Museum

Despite not having space to make linocuts right now, I'm certainly thinking about them a lot. I see potential images everywhere, mentally mixing colors and imagining print order while I explore my new surroundings.

But there have been a few opportunities to get a little "hands on" lately, since I'm preparing for a two-week artist residency at the Woodson Art Museum in February. (Yes, I know. Wisconsin in February. A winter residency in, say, Hawai'i or Arizona might have been a good idea, but the Woodson museum and staff are great to work with in any season.)

During my February 4-17 tenure I'll be making relief prints with students in grades 5-12, as well as teachers and other museum VIPs. The Woodson currently has two great temporary exhibitions installed, Wild Fabrications and Explorations in Wood. Our student project will draw inspiration from both of these collections, as we will be designing repeating patterns and printing quilt squares on fabric.

Fun, eh?

This past week I put my friend Sue to work as the project guinea pig. Classroom projects are, of course, constrained by time, so logistics can sometimes be a challenge. It was great to talk through the process with Sue as she worked to get a sense of materials, timing and the best way to success for students. And, look! Sue made something beautiful, too.

I saved a little block for myself that I'm hoping to work with this weekend, but wow! I'm still spending a lot of time meeting people, galleries, teaching venues. It's all great stuff, and when I finally have a work space I'll have more than enough to do to keep me busy.

In the meantime, if you find yourself in central Wisconsin... well, ever, really, do stop in and see what they are up to. The exhibitions are always stellar and admission is always... free!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A warm post from the frigid coast

As I type this it's afternoon here on the coast of Maine. There's a deep blanket of snow from our "bomb cyclone" blizzard earlier in the week and everything looks picturesque and lovely... a veritable treasure trove of potential linocuts.

Until one goes outside. At noon our temperature had risen to 0 degrees F. (That's minus 18 for you Celsius types.) Except for that brief respite when it warmed up enough to drop a ton of snow we've been in subzero lows and single-digit highs since Christmas. 

As a result I've had to curtail my wandering in the woods or scrambling on the rocky coast. It's a good time for catching up with other projects, though, including an "introduction to reduction linocut" video. The spectacular landscape painter Tim Deibler shot the raw footage just days before I moved away from Colorado. His daughter Rachel, the project editor, sent me a rough cut just before Christmas, and yesterday I finally had time for a first review.

We had just one day to do all the filming... in the midst of towers of boxes and half-packed belongings. In true Sherrie fashion it was essentially a seat-of-my-pants endeavor and the intended 3-color demo turned into five colors. (It could have been six or seven, of course, but... time limit.)

It is a little strange to watch the process unfold in a studio space that no longer exists (for me), especially when my search for suitable space here in Maine has not yet met with success and my press is still in storage. Yes, it's a test of my patience. But the video project reminds me who I am, even when I'm not able to work the way I'd like just now.

Between Rachel's travel schedule and mine it will likely be late spring before the video is finished and ready for prime time. Hopefully these few screen captures will whet your appetite for the completed project. 

There is one important aspect of the video that hasn't been decided yet, however, and I need your help!  Assuming we end up with about 2 hours of instruction, if you were interested in the video would you prefer to receive it packaged as a physical DVD or delivered online behind a paywall? 

Personally, when I purchase a class online I rarely watch the entire thing through, or I forget that I have access to it and it languishes. But I'm starting to fall into the dinosaur category for that sort of thing, so I'm curious to know what Brush and Baren readers think. Let me know!

In the meantime, stay warm... and if you have a favorite manufacturer of snow pants, send me that information, too! Needless to say, I'm shopping....