“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.

Moss Landing–Cruising around Santa Cruz

Last weekend, driving back from our daughter’s spectacular wedding at Costanoa Lodge, we stopped in Moss Landing to introduce some relatives to a small, going-back-in-time sort of place along the coastline.  Not the typical, tourist-designed site for buying tchotchkes, Moss Landing retains its quaint, historic fishing village vibe!  Located on Monterey Bay at the mouth of Elkhorn Slough, Moss Landing is one of our local best-kept secrets.

First we went to La Galeria, where there is a Monterey Peninsula College printmakers’ exhibit.  Not so easy to find.  You turn onto the main street (Moss Landing Road) from Highway  1 at “The Whole Enchilada”.  Don’t be fooled and  stop there.  Keep on going a few 100 feet and hidden behind The Haute Enchilada you can find this little surprise of a gallery– very cozy and wood-paneled–with approximately 100 prints, some priced between $75 (unframed) and $120 (framed).  The public reception will be on Saturday, October 22, from 2:00- 5:00 p.m. with food catered by Haute Enchilada (www.hauteenchilada.com).  We first went into the gallery to look at the exhibit, and then had a very tasty lunch at the restaurant in front of La Galeria –Haute Enchilada.  We shared poblano chile soup, tortilla soup, guacamole and chips, pork and chicken enchiladas, fish tacos, taco salad, and a delicious rosemary chicken panini.  Everyone loved sharing their food and enjoyed the sunshine on the patio with chilled local beers as well as Mexican ones.

After lunch and art viewing, there are also other surprises: antiques, a small Shakespeare museum (including a chair made from the wood from Stratford-on-Avon’s theater and nearby church), the exquisite Stella Page Design handbag boutique (designs include Japanese koi, Buddhas, and exotic floral patterns). Moss Landing is also home to MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium’s research facility), and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, the research arm for the California State University system.

We didn’t have time to walk along the pier and look at the boats and the egrets, pelicans, herons  and cormorants who graze and fish everywhere along the water.  Birders would find nearby Elkhorn Slough impossible to ignore, a favorite with naturalists.  Guided tours on kayaks are available on weekends (http://www.elkhornslough.org/visit.htm) and also through the Monterey Bay Aquarium.   But, if you have time either on your way into Santa Cruz to go to one of the First Friday art walks or to Aptos and neighboring beaches, don’t forget to take a glimpse at California’s past and stop for an hour or two in Moss Landing.

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.

Carmel Rancho Art and Framing Center—Frame Your Memories!

Gift giving is an art form, as we all know!   And so is framing, which may not be so obvious.  But have you ever looked at a framed piece and said that the frame was spectacular…or totally wrong…or even made the art or photo look a little sad or tired?

If you have a favorite original artwork, photo, scrap of fabric from a vacation or special event, children’s achievement award or badge, or a photo you want to preserve and exhibit in your home or give to a friend, the Carmel Rancho Art and Framing Center is much more than your standard framing shop.  The owner, Gayle Saia, has an expert eye not only for selecting the frame but also offers professional advice on what type of framing process will complete the work itself.  This is custom framing at its best! From my own experience working with Gayle, she has guided me to the type of framing—a shadow box, traditional matting or double matted, or floated with or without a mat.  The color of the mat alone can be a major decision and truly can set off the work in a masterful way.  One of my prints,  “Tibetan Ferns”  (see photo), has an orange ink that is not iridescent in the print but the choice of a burnished gold frame not only makes the print glow but symbolizes the gold of Tibetan monks’ robes.  In addition, the selection of a shadow box allows the Tibetan prayer flag fragment to hang loosely, suggesting an ethereal quality to the artwork itself.  This required combing each thread of the prayer flag to lie straight and hang properly.

Gayle’s aesthetic sense is brilliant.  With the visual perspective of an artist, she contributes to the artwork itself with her skills in design as well as in framing and art presentation.  Every frame is done in-house with meticulous attention to detail.  If you don’t have your own work to frame, there’s a wonderful range of reasonably priced original art from Monterey Peninsula College printmakers on display. Stop by and look at the Carmel Rancho Art and Framing Center in the Carmel Rancho Shopping Center (across from Brinton’s) or call ahead (831-626-4013) for directions.

They are located at: 26540Carmel Rancho Blvd. Suite B        Carmel, CA 93923

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.