January 15, 2011

Sam Gilliam's monoprint project

Sam Gilliam, "Printing on the World 3," 2010, oil based monotype,acrylic paint, powdered pigment, 30 x 22”
Renée Stout, "Rusted Sign,"2010, oil based monotype with mixed media, 30 x 22”

Tom Green, "Charred I," 2010, acrylic on oil based, monotype, 30 x 22”

Installation view.

"In Unison: 20 Washington, DC Artists," an exhibition derived from a monoprint project initiated by Sam Gilliam, is on display at the Kreeger Museum in DC through February 26. Gilliam invited 19 painters, sculptors, printmakers, digital media and installation artists to join him at the George Mason University School of Art's new print studio where they created several print portfolios. Working together provided an opportunity for interaction and promoted collaboration – which has long been a part of the printmaking tradition. Each artist made a set of five monoprints, one of which was chosen for the show. Artists include bk.iamART.Adams, Akili Ron Anderson, Sondra N. Arkin, Paula Crawford, Sheila Crider, Edgar Endress, Helen Frederick, Claudia Aziza-Gibson Hunter, Sam Gilliam, Susan Goldman, Tom Green, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Walter Kravitz, Gina Lewis, EJ Montgomery, Michael B. Platt and Carol A. Beane, Al Smith, Renee Stout, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Joyce Wellman

In The Washington Post, art critic Kriston Capps reports that, while most of the prints lack dynamic innovation or challenging content, they're certainly lyrical and pleasing. "Gilliam has assembled a number of black Washington artists who were overlooked by the other retrospective shows in town. Perhaps the value of 'In Unison' is that it gets an older generation of artists out of their studios and into a new workshop environment. And the Kreeger Museum lends comfortable context to the show: Kandinsky and Paul Klee, whose paintings hang outside the exhibition, could be the show's patron saints."

"In Unison: 20 Washington, DC Artists," selected by Sam Gilliam, Judy A. Greenberg, Marsha Mateyka, Claudia Rousseau. The Kreeger Museum, Washington, DC. Through February 26, 2011.



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2 comments:

Millennium Arts Salon’s Response
Comment on the article by Melvin Hardy at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/13/AR2011011304399_Comments.html

Kriston: Yours is a remarkable recitation of context for what you observed as the production of this sampling of a body of works of art created at GMU. What you could not have observed was the origination of vision of a major artist in Sam Gilliam, and its interplay under the sponsorship of a local arts-advocacy and arts-community building organization in Millennium Arts Salon, the fiscal convener of the exhibition.

Your attribution of the "patronage" of Kandinsky and Klee is a wonderful gift from you as an established art critic to each of the "In Unison" artists hanging at the Kreeger. It is lost on no one that Judy Greenberg's willingness to accept this exhibition represents a major advance in the careers of many of the artists.

In this, perhaps you may have missed the point with your focus on "looking back" to the restrictions imposed on innovation and creativity by our local Washington artists, by a less-than-assertive Washington cultural infrastructure. Your highlighting the preponderance of African American artists in the exhibition dismisses completely the sponsor's and project team's structured framework for persons across the spectrum of cultural, ethnic, aesthetic, experience, gender, and age identities to experiment with artistic and aesthetic dialogue whilst in the process of creation of works.

You could not have known Sondra Arkin's frustration with running her typical encaustics through a press only to work with the master printmakers to innovate in finding process to present her beautiful details. You could not have known the truly vanguard applications of tools by Akili Ron Anderson in the creation of his works, and for which each of the five "small paintings" he created are tour de force works of art.

To what many observers of this important exhibition, perhaps like yourself, might immediately attach to recent historical reference, "looking back" in your parlance, you may miss the prospective references to our national need for modeling how Americans, regardless of station, cultural, or ethnic identity, can find ways to interact in the spirit of innovation, in the finding of new ways to re-calibrate our national dialogue for building a sense a national identity, an American culture.

The project team was lead by: Sam Gilliam in identifying the artists who would inspire a new Washington signature in collaborative creativity; Juanita Hardy of Millennium Arts Salon who initiated and funded the enterprise; Helen Frederick and Susan Goldman who "mastered" the printmaking and counseled many of the artists in innovation; Claudia Rousseau, who provided art historical and critical context; and Judy Greenberg, who housed this new vision of the American experiment with American inter-culturalism.

Of course, none of this is possible without the creatives themselves, and we are all grateful that the artists would lend themselves to this highly managed strategy. It is refreshing to read your review of the exhibition, Kriston, as your "backward looking" perspective provides that essential balance that fuels those of us in the creative classes to look forward to our leadership in the better America that is to come.

“In Unison” is Millennium Arts Salon’s project team's structured framework for persons across the spectrum of cultural, ethnic, aesthetic, experience, gender, and age identities to experiment with artistic and aesthetic dialogue whilst in the process of creation of works. The more common art critic’s "backward looking" perspective provides that essential balance that fuels those of us in the creative classes to look forward to our leadership in the better America that is to come. We at Millennium Arts Salon, however, look more prospectively to model how Americans, regardless of station, cultural, or ethnic identity find new ways to re-calibrate our national dialogue for building a sense of national identity. BTW, it is a great gift to the artists linking them to Kandinsky and Klee. Thank you.