SURFACE TREATMENT: Expressions Graphics of Oak Park Exhibit

Nancy Moyer

The Art House is currently showcasing a group of thirteen printmakers from the United States and beyond. Expressions Graphics is a nonprofit organization based in Chicago and houses printmakers from Canada, Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America, and the U.S. It was founded about twenty-five years ago, with artist Nicolas de Jesus, as a fundraising organization.

Although many of the prints have an illustrative edge to them, some of the artists are using their art to expose injustice and as vehicles for cultural enlightenment.

“Aguas Blancas” Print by Nicolás de Jesús.

De Jesus is originally from Nahua Ameyaltepec and shows his work worldwide. His artistic intent is to inform other cultures about Mexico’s heritage. He particularly focuses on the plight of Mexico’s indigenous peoples. His print on papel amate, Aguas Blancas shows Calavera spirits catching the tears of weeping native people. An unbalanced scale of justice floats in space; a small sign in the background reminds us that tears do not forget.

“Silencio” Print by Carlos Barberena.

Printmaker Carlos Barberena from Nicaragua is also concerned with man’s inhumanity to his fellow man in his series of achromatic linocuts depicting recipients of oppression. “With my work,” Barberena said, “I seek to be a vector of change, collecting images that pertain to our collective memory and that, in certain form, make reference to painful events in the history of my country and of the world.” His print, Silencio,characterizes his experiences with censorship.

On the lighter side, Beverly Keys’ colorful Intaglio and chine collé prints greet the viewer at the entrance to the gallery. Keys’ abstract works are solely about color as revealed by titles such as Lime ll.

Keys is from Chicago, as is Jill Kramer. Kramer’s linocuts demonstrate a classic blockprint style. Bold shapes are balanced carefully within the perimeters of the space. Kramer’s hand colored polychromatic prints depict landscape scenery observed from her travels. Hand coloring allows her the effect of multiple plates. Dry River Bed depicts an undulating dry gulley that now hosts flowers and grassy vegetation. The lack of water does scar the beauty of the site; green grass and blue sky abound. Clouds drift by.

The artists in this exhibit are working with printmaking techniques and subject matter that allow editions of usually fifty prints. There is very little straying from traditional techniques such as intaglio, linocuts, and screen prints. The exceptions would be a few monoprints. The imagery in this exhibition is usually very direct, in order to elicit a quick and clear response, but the stylistic tendencies among the group vary greatly.

“It’s a print shop and gallery where all the printmakers who participate have access to the equipment, explained Rey Santiago, Curator for the Art House. “They never use the word, co-op, but it works like one.”

Santiago and Ben Varela are members of this group and have intaglios on display. This is a good opportunity for print collectors.

What:     “Expressions Graphics of Oak Park Exhibit”
Where:     Art House Gallery, 1009 Laurel
When:     through March 28: Mon – Sat: 12:30 to 4:30pm or by appointment.
Contact:  (956) 688-6461

Nancy Moyer, PhD, is the art critic for Festiva. She is an independent artist living in McAllen, Texas.

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About carlosbarberena

Carlos Barberena is a Nicaraguan self-taught Printmaker based in Chicago where he runs his printmaking project La Calaca Press. Barberena has exhibited individually in Costa Rica, Estonia, France, Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain and The USA. His work has been shown in important Art Fairs, Art Biennials, Museums, Galleries, Universities and Cultural Centers around the world, among them: the 7 International Printmaking Biennial of Douro at the Lamego Museum in Portugal; Printmaking In / In Graafika Fest at Linnagallerii, Parnu, Estonia; the IX Nicaraguan Visual Arts Biennial (IX BAVNIC) - Ortiz-Gurdián Foundation. “Recycling Memory: Recapturing the Lost City” curated by Omar López-Chahoud. PAC Museum, Managua, Nicaragua; Tartu Printmaking Fest 2014, Tartu Art House, Tartu, Estonia; LAPS 21, National Printmaking Biennial, CSUN Art Galleries, Northridge, CA; Pulso: Arte de las Américas, KCAD Fed Galleries, Grand Rapids, MI; “Santitos” curated by René Arceo, Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), Chicago; Hanal Pixan - Food for the Souls, curated by Dolores Mercado, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago; III Bronx Latin American Art Biennial, Bronx, New York; “Les Saltimbanques” an homage to Gustave Doré at the Musée d’Art Roger-Quilliot - MARQ - in France, where his work was exhibited alongside Doré’s Masterpiece; III World Body Art Conference in Venezuela, Lia Bermudez Museum; V Biennial of Caribbean Dominican Republic, Museum of the Dominican Man; 8th Triennial - Mondial de L’Estampe et de la Gravure Originale in Chamalieres, France; 6th KIWA at the Kyoto Museum of Art in Japan; Takanabe Art Museum, Miyazaki, Japan; Latin American & Nicaraguan Printmaking, former Convent of San Francisco Museum, Granada, Nicaragua; 24 Grafiekbiennale Sint-Niklaas, International Exlibriscentrum, Stedelijke Musea, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium and the XIII Art Salon, Identity Imprint: A Glance at Ibero-American Printmaking at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, DC. He has received various awards, most notably the “National Printmaking Award 2012” given by the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture in Managua, Nicaragua and the award- poster for the Ecology and Human Rights in Banana Plantations in Costa Rica, given by GEBANA in Berlin, Germany. Barberena’s work is included in numerous public and private collections, including Ortíz-Gurdián Museum, León, Nicaragua; Douro Printmaking Biennial Collection, Museu do Gravura, Alijo, Portugal; Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), Chicago, USA; Artist Printmaker Research Collection, Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Special Collection, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, USA; The National Gallery, San José, Costa Rica; Museum of Contemporary Art “Julio Cortazar”, Managua, Nicaragua; Permanent Art Collection of the Bibliotheca of Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt; Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois; KIWA, Kyoto, Japan; the School of Fine Arts, (UNAM), Mexico; the Triennial Prints Cabinet, AMAC, France, the International Exlibriscentrum, Stedelijke Museum in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium; the Lia Bermudez Museum, Venezuela; Former Jesuit College Cultural Center, Patzcuaro, Mexico and Praxis Gallery of Nicaragua. www.carlosbarberena.com
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