“Water Marks”–What Lies Beneath the Surface

“Water Marks”, the current exhibition at Pacific Grove Art Center (PGAC), features approximately 50 Monterey Bay area printmakers who have created etchings, woodcuts, screenprints, monotypes and mixed media prints focusing on the theme of water surrounding our beautiful Monterey peninsula.   The Monterey Peninsula College (MPC) Printmakers is an association of artists who are passionate about printmaking in all its variety of forms and techniques.

This exhibit is analogous to a “watermark” in that  the artwork requires more than a casual viewing.   Printmaking can be breathtaking in its variety and visual expressivity, even when focused on a specific theme such as water.  Far from diminishing originality, the “Water Marks” exhibit flourishes in its wide-ranging interpretation of water with unexpected embellishments, subtleties, and creative charm.

All prints in the gallery add multi-layered connotations to what water means to our lives.   For example, Evelyn Klein’s “Giverny” evokes the famous gardens of Monet in a photoetching with drypoint and subtle chine collé (decorative paper).  Donna Kooyman uses the solar print to reveal lunar phases in “#1 Blue Moons” and Linda Marcellini uses similar techniques in “Our Vital Resource”, a more abstract interpretation of undulating water. Patricia Colman, in “Dance of the Sea Kelp”, takes the organic plant and creates layers of color and mystery underneath the seaweed with paint. In “Sea Fans”, a mixed media piece including collage, intaglio and watercolor, I suggest not only the hypnotic tangents and curves of water but also the organic material beneath its surface.

A reception with the artists was held last Friday, February 22, and the public is invited to make their own prints on Sunday, March 2, 1:30-4PM. The exhibit closes on April 4.

Regular gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 12-5PM and Sunday, 1-4PM. Pacific Grove Art Center is at 568 Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove. For more information contact the center at 831-375-2208 or go to their website at www.pgartcenter.org.

Community Colleges– A Change Is On the Way?

California community colleges have some of the lowest tuition fees in the country. And for decades, the community college system has taken great pride in being a “social equalizer”:  operating under several mandates, one of which is to provide inexpensive postsecondary education. But budget cuts have forced campuses to dramatically scale back what they offer. The paradigm has begun to shift. Is it possible our tuition is too low?  How should the community college system follow its other mandate: to prepare students for a career path?  And what about “non-traditional” students interested in “personal development”?

Proposals for two-tiered pricing have just begun…again.  Almost 30 years ago when the state of California’s budget was in budget crisis-mode after the passage of Proposition 13, the state’s community college system experimented with a two-tiered fee schedule:  one for students enrolled for an AA degree and the other for “non-traditional” students.

California’s 112 community colleges have been eviscerated by deep budget cuts, forcing many to turn away an estimated 200,000 this year alone. Tuition levels at the colleges, which serve 2.6 million students, will rise to $46 from $36 this summer. But even after the increase, California’s community colleges will charge less than half the national average in tuition and fees.

That could change if California State Senator Roderick D. Wright gets his way. His proposed Senate Bill 1550 would mandate that all community colleges offer” self-supporting” extension programs focused on technical education or work-force development, a narrower band than the high-demand English and math courses. Senate Bill 1550 would allow community college districts to charge students for the actual costs of the courses, including the cost of instruction, equipment and supplies, student services, instructional support, and administrative overhead (which is considerable). The debate over the legislation is also more complex. One intended objective is to create more seats at community colleges, so students won’t be lured into expensive for-profit degree programs of questionable value.

In our own backyard in Monterey County, the Board of Governors recently voted to approve a new set of rules that prevents students from repeating “activity” courses, such as dance, art, music, and physical education. The rule will begin in August. (See  July 11 Monterey Herald article, “For some community college classes, you get only one shot”)

The curriculum would provide for different levels of achievement in activity classes. In enrolling at beginning, intermediate, and advanced proficiency categories presumably the registration would not be considered a “repeat” of a course and the fee schedule would remain the same for all levels.

But the “different levels of expertise” does not resolve the budget crunch. A two-tiered tuition structure, which does address revenue shortfall, raises fundamental questions about the role and obligations of community colleges. Will the policy essentially block some of the people it is designed to benefit? How are limited taxpayers’ revenues to be allocated for students in degree-granting programs first and for “non-traditional” students second? Since 2008 California’s community college system has lost $809 million in state aid, including $564 million in the most recent budget, even as more students than ever before try to enroll. Many community colleges have reduced class offerings. Santa Monica College has cut more than 1,100 classes from its fall term. Colleges have just maxed out in terms of how many students (both traditional and leisure) they can educate and serve.

I believe we need to consider higher, more realistic and market-driven continuing education fees for those of us who are taking classes for the sheer pleasure of doing so. We should take a more expensive seat in the back of the class and let degree students sit in the front.  Without some kind of fee compromise, the portal to opportunity will not be there for future generations.

 

Paper, Scissors, Print–Jennifer D. Anderson Workshop

From complex paper cutting, origami, paper sculpture, to book making, this is an ever-expanding area of design that is gaining in popularity and evolving in new directions.  These intricate paper designs are exhibited in  museums  throughout the world and have become another exciting medium of expression for many designers who wish to combine the digital with more conventional methods of art.

Jennifer D Anderson is an artist and educator who has an innovative style of combining printmaking with paper art techniques including a lacy cutting-style reminiscent of ancient Chinese paper cuts and Mexican wedding banners.  I was fortunate to attend one of her workshops  at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC), and gain a different perspective on paper, how it is made, its physical properties (absorption, weight, sizing, fiber content, machine made vs. handmade) and how to utilize paper for mixed media printmaking.  The two-day workshop started with an overview of European and Asian papermaking, their differences, and different cutting and gluing techniques for each.  For those of you who haven’t tried pasting papers of different types and weights to another sheet of paper, believe me it is not easy! Here is my mixed media piece from the workshop.    

Laminating and pasting were demonstrated in detail (see YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_7JQOtOhoA for step-to-step demos).  The twenty workshop participants learned how to use digital images, laminating several transparent images together, and combine them with traditional printmaking styles (intaglio and woodcut).

Jennifer received her MFA from the University of Georgia and has taught workshops at the J Paul Getty Museum and the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles. Currently assistant professor of art at Hollins University,  those of you in the Bay Area can view her current work of cameo-like prints of anatomical images at “Visceral Intuition,” an exhibition at the MPC Gallery that ends April 13. (Jennifer Anderson’s website is: www.jenniferdanderson.com)

A Harvest of Images: A Feast for the Eyes!

The Pajaro Valley Arts Council gallery (PVAC) in Watsonville is featuring over 100 images that showcase a wide range of both traditional and experimental printmaking processes, including digital media. The show, “A Harvest of Images”,  was juried by the highly regarded artist Howard Ikemoto, art instructor at Cabrillo College for over 30 years, now retired, who resides near Watsonville. The show opened on February 24 and will close on April 17. Everyone is invited to a reception at the gallery on Sunday, March 13, 2:00-4:00 pm.

The exhibit is an outstanding survey of contemporary fine art printmaking. Located at 37 Sudden Street in Watsonville, on a side street in an old Victorian house.  This ambitious and exciting  show features the work of forty-eight local printmakers from the MPC Print Club (www.mpcprintclub.com), based at Monterey Peninsula College.   Works include etchings, woodcuts, screenprints, monotypes, monoprints, and mixed media prints.

MPC artists capture not only what first meets the eye—the landscapes of great beauty—but also what lies beneath. Some challenge viewers to consider how our fields are tilled and who harvests what and for whom and at what cost. On view are prints that speak to the geography, history, agriculture, labor, culture and habitats of Pajaro Valley. This broad spectrum of new work includes etchings, woodcuts, screenprints, monotypes and mixed media prints.

MPC Printmakers will engage the public in the magic of printmaking, including classical Japanese woodblock,  through artist-led workshops at Pajaro Valley High School and at the PVAC Gallery. The free gallery workshop is March 26, 1-3 pm. A gallery guide (in English and Spanish) will be available for families to learn more about the world of printmaking.

February 24 – April 17, 2011  PVAC Gallery, 37 Sudden Street, Watsonville
831-722-3062; www.pvarts.org

Gallery hours: Thursdays & Fridays 11:00am to 4pm; Sat and Sun 12-4 pm.

Reception: Sunday, March 13, 2:00-4:00pm

Free demo workshop: Saturday, March 26, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Printmaking at MPC: Feel the Love

This past weekend there were two workshops/demos at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC), located on Fremont Street (at Aguajito Road) near the Hilton Hotel, in Monterey. This little-known resource in Monterey is a gem in the midst of our community!  How many of you out there have never set foot on this campus?!

Any county resident can enroll in any of a huge variety of courses at  minimal cost in tuition and student fees.  I am amazed at how inexpensive 60 hours of instruction per class can be!  The MPC print studio, a small part of this community college, is a haven for artists and neophytes like me who want to open their eyes to a new world—the art of making lovely one-of-a-kind art work or an edition of multiple copies—in a relaxing and inviting environment that supports you through each step.  As one newer student said in an email to all MPC Print Club members:

“This club, quite simply, is the most enjoyable group of people I have met in my life. When I try to explain to those outside the club why I so enjoy all things print-related, this is what I say: I have never worked with a group of people (and I have worked with a LOT of groups) who has such a great sense of humor, gets things done, has a great sense of humor, is so decisive, has a great sense of humor, is so embracing of all, has a great sense of humor, is so darn DEPENDABLE, has a great sense of humor, is so collaborative, and best of all, has a great sense of humor!!!! “

On Friday the class  in Relief Printmaking and members of the MPC Print Club attended a demonstration by Denese Sanders on Simultaneous Color Printing, aka Viscosity Rolls, a rather sophisticated printing process developed in the 1950’s to accomplish multi-colored printing without multiple times sending the paper through the printing press.  How fortunate we all were (about 40 students) to watch the step-by-step process!  Soon a video will be available on the Club website: www.mpcprintclub.org.  Go check it out!  If you are interested in becoming a print club member (NO FEE required), just inquire on the website.  I know I talked two friends into joining and now they are hooked.  Some of you will be too, I guarantee it! A members-only community website is also posted: www.mpcprintmakers.ning.com for members to post their prints and other information about what they are doing and what they are interested in.

For those of you who don’t want to make the plunge into a semester-long class, there are excellent workshops by the same instructors who teach the full-length courses.  One of these workshops was held last Saturday from 9:00-3:00 and others will be offered for two-day weekend instruction.  On Saturday we had loads of fun making cards , both all-purpose and Christmas cards, some of which will be sold at the MPC Holiday Sale coming up Tuesday, December 7 through Thursday, December 9, from 9:00 am-7:00 p.m.  If you have never been to this sale, by all means come and see the handmade jewelry and ceramics from local artists as well as from MPC instructors and students.  While you are at it, stop by our table with the big MPC Print Club banner to say hi, look at our cards, cookbook with reproductions of some of our prints, and beautiful hand-screened aprons which would make gorgeous presents!  Enjoy! We would love to give you a personal introduction to what we do and who we are.