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.
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.
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.