Today's postings

  1. [Baren 29009] Japanese printmaking demonstrations in Ohio (baren_member #
  2. [Baren 29010] Woodblock prints on display in Grand Rapids ... (baren_member #
  3. [Baren 29011] Re: creosote panels (Sharri LaPierre)
  4. [Baren 29012] Flattening Prints ("Ellen Shipley")
  5. [Baren 29013] Japanese print exhibition now open in Toledo .. (baren_member #
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Message 1
From: baren_member #
Date: 16 Oct 2005 14:31:26 -0000
Subject: [Baren 29009] Japanese printmaking demonstrations in Ohio

Message posted from: Google News Update

From the Oberlin Review:

Keiji Shinohara, guest artist at Oberlin this past week, is clearly a master of hanga, or Japanese style woodblock printing. Yet he is equally unassuming about it. Seeing him in action, as an eager audience at the Allen Memorial Art Museum did last Saturday, is a quiet yet spectacular event.

Shinohara speaks with a soft vivacity, his eyes darting and his hands precise. When it comes to making one good print, Shinohara explains, a printmaker may use 12 blocks, having to print the same paper over 15 times, a process that usually takes a good three hours.

For this reason, Shinohara quipped, he set up his demonstration, “like the Cooking Show style,” adding one color to many prints, each one in a various stage for emphasis.

“Say the project takes ten days,” Shinohara said, deftly dropping a fine piece of already delicately-printed paper onto an inked woodblock. “You would have to keep the same dampness of paper for the whole ten days. It takes five to six years to be able to feel and know the exact dampness of a sheet of paper.”

Shinohara paused, holding up a small, flexible disk of coiled rope wrapped in bamboo.

“This is my machine,” he said.

This instrument is known as a baren, and despite its flimsy appearance, it is an instrument that has been honed to perfection.

The handmade piece takes about half a year to produce and usually retails for $600.

Why the exactitude? The baren can apply the perfect pressure for the thickness of the printing paper.

Perfection, of course, does not come without dedication. Shinohara moved from Japan to the United States two decades ago.

He spent ten years in training as an apprentice at the Uesugi Studio in Kyoto. There he learned the printmaking aspect of the art, which excluded the actual designing and carving of the woodblocks.

When asked how the art world of Japan compares to that of America, Shinohara is quick to point out the differences.

“Japan is well-connected,” he said. “You can just knock on the doors of galleries, saying, ‘I have a portfolio.’”

This is not how Shinohara began his career, however. In fact, he had no portfolio to show and no resumé to speak of. Yet at the age of 20, Shinohara saw the work of a hanga master in a small gallery in Kyoto, and knew what he wanted.

“I saw his artwork there, and I fell in love,” Shinohara said. That same day he decided to knock on the artist’s door. “He came out, very suspicious. I said, ‘I would love to study with you.’ He slammed the door.”

Shinohara returned the next day, however, and the next, and the next “for three months with similar results.”

“Slowly, he let me in,” Shinohara recalls, his eyes sparkling with disbelief. “First, he said I was too old, but three months later, he said OK.” Next came the realization that Shinohara was left-handed, a taboo in hanga printmaking, because of the tools and specificities of the printing process.

“He said, ‘No, I take it back, you can’t study.’” Instead of giving up, Shinohara simply trained his right hand. All the sacrifices paid off, however, for Shinohara has a dazzling body of prints, richly colored landscapes and abstractions, as well as collaborative efforts with such artists as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Chuck Close.

Shinohara is currently a visiting artist at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Again recalling his training, Shinohara said, “I thought my teacher would teach me how to print, but my job at first was to sweep the floors, make the teas. He would only say, ‘Watch me. Watch me again.’”

Watching Shinohara work last Saturday was more than just a revelation in technique. It is through observing Shinohara’s mastery, his small frame hovering almost trance-like above his work, that one begins to understand the absolute precision required for true delicacy in art. Each movement as he reaches for one material or another has found the balance of economy and grace.
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Message 2
From: baren_member #
Date: 16 Oct 2005 14:44:12 -0000
Subject: [Baren 29010] Woodblock prints on display in Grand Rapids ...

Message posted from: Google News Update

"H2O moved Mary Brodbeck of Kalamazoo to create stately woodblock prints of large bodies of water titled "Islet," "Mound" and "Bay" that have the quiet beauty of Japanese landscape prints."

"My prints are made in the traditional Japanese manner, using water based inks, brushes and barens. I studied woodcut printmaking in Tokyo in 1998 with master woodcut printmaker Yoshisuke Funasaka through a BUNKA-CHO fellowship from the Japanese Government. The idea to do the "Thirty-Six Views of Lake Superior" series came from the 19th century Japanese artist Hokusai, who did a famous series called "Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji". I am definitely influenced by the Japanese approach of using nature as a subject matter, and by using broad areas of color and simplistic designs in my image making."
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Message 3
From: Sharri LaPierre
Date: Sun, 16 Oct 2005 20:41:58 -0700
Subject: [Baren 29011] Re: creosote panels
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Well, thank goodness we got that straightened out - LOL - I was
wondering what carving creosote might do to your lungs. It was a
carcinogen the last time I looked.

Annie, I think your buckling problems are mostly due to the paper. It
may be a little too wet, like Barbara suggested, but I tried that paper
and hated it with a passion, so I think it is just the paper.

For flattening I use blotters and pieces of 5/8" plywood that used to
be shelves in a former studio. When I'm ready for the final flattening
I put them in a plywood sandwich with all the prints between blotters
and clamp it tightly together and leave them overnight. IF I've used
good paper they come out flat, if I've used cheap paper they are still
wrinkled the next day and nothing can help them.

Happy printing, everyone,
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Message 4
From: "Ellen Shipley"
Date: Sun, 16 Oct 2005 21:33:10 -0700
Subject: [Baren 29012] Flattening Prints
Send Message: To this poster

Concerning flattening, this may be pure heresy, but I use a hot plate type press meant for photos (rather like a waffle iron only flat). I only leave them in there for 10-15 seconds, and I still have embossing and beveling when they're done, but no more wrinkles. I've used this on etchings and woodcuts and been satisfied. Perhaps there is something more delicate about hanga prints?

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Message 5
From: baren_member #
Date: 17 Oct 2005 06:02:07 -0000
Subject: [Baren 29013] Japanese print exhibition now open in Toledo ..

Message posted from: Google News Update

"Strong Women, Beautiful Men: Japanese Portrait Prints from the Toledo Museum of Art"
... 85 finely wrought prints from the land of the rising sun.

Created between 1720 and 1931, they are mostly portraits: women in everyday activities, kabuki actors in character, beautiful women, entertainers (geisha), courtesans, warriors, and actors who portrayed and sometimes lived as women (onnagata).

Beautiful kimonos are featured, and hairstyles, clothing, and accessories help tell the story.

"Nakedness, it could be said, obscures rather than reveals, and garments define rather than hide," wrote art historian Jack Hay, quoted in Strong Women Beautiful Men, a new, 96-page book the museum has published in conjunction with the exhibit.

Teams of artists, woodcarvers, printers, and publishers produced prints that were often sold by subscription to middle-class people who saw them as posters and were likely to paste them on room-dividing screens. A print cost about the same as a bowl of noodles, said Carolyn Putney, the museum's curator of Asian art.

The earliest images have muted colors made from vegetable dyes; later prints have exuberant hues.

Two years ago, Putney and Julie Melby, former curator of works on paper, dug out and surveyed the museum's carefully boxed collection of 140 Japanese woodblock prints. Most were donated after popular TMA shows in 1930 and 1936, organized by artist Hiroshi Yoshida. He promoted a contemporary movement by himself and other Japanese artists who aimed to revive a traditional style of woodblock printing.

At the time, an assistant curator named Dorothy Blair wrote catalogues for those exhibitions, which remained popular for years because they were the only materials published in English on the subject.

Putney and Melby called in Japanese print scholar Laura J. Mueller to describe and translate writing on the prints, and then to research and write the new book. It was published by Hotei Publishing in the Netherlands, a specialist in Asian art.

A video of a kabuki play will run on a television set in the exhibit. Today, tours of the adjacent shows are at 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

On view through Dec. 31. in the Canaday Gallery at the Toledo Museum of Art. Admission is a $5 suggested donation. The museum is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Monday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The museum is at 2445 Monroe St. Information: 419-255-8000 or 800-644-6862.