Print exhibit 'a work of art out of art'
By LYNN COOK
Special to The Advertiser
"There is a mean mite from Mānoa that is killing bees," says Roxanne Chasle, whose art is inspired by her interest in how global environmental issues translate into local problems.
Chasle's entry into the 82nd Annual Honolulu Printmakers Exhibition is not one print but hundreds of black, white and red prints of bees; each drawn, printed, hand-cut and glued double-sided with — what else? — beeswax. They're currently flying for a honeycomb suspended from the ceiling of the Academy Art Center at Linekona.
"The red ones are the ones that have disappeared, globally," Chasle notes sadly.
The bee charmer is one of more than 60 works in the Honolulu Printmakers exhibition. The art, selected from more than 200 entries from across Hawai'i, was juried by Helen Frederick, a professor of art from George Mason University in Virginia.
Frederick is dedicated to both teaching and producing prints. She is the founder of Pyramid Atlantic, a world-renowned printmaking organization. After selecting and directing the hanging of the show, she presented her own art. "I was only here two days when I realized that the air, the gentle rain, the colors have effected all of you, and me," she said. "I feel altered."
On a stroll through the gallery, Frederick did a shout-out to some artists. She praised master etcher Dodie Warren's mezzotint, Peter Suzuki's black and white print that gives the illusion of color and the delicate kimono-like screen print by Cari Saiki-Dela Cruz. "Hanging the show was like creating a work of art out of art," she said. "Once the works were selected they seemed to find their place, one to another."
In Fredrick's eye, Chasle's bees were in harmony with the massive and intricate wood block print by Matthew Kawika Ortiz. The artist rotated his carved square blocks, created from repurposed wood scraps, printing each in multi-layer colors that create the illusion of circular movement. Frederick was delighted to learn the surprising twist: Ortiz and Chasle are engaged.
For 77 of the 82 years of Honolulu Printmakers exhibitions, one artist has been invited to create a "gift print" limited edition. The prints often sell out, sight unseen. On opening night the work of Paul David Mullowney was unveiled. The Maui-based printer says of his edition of prints, "the thinking part took the longest, maybe seven months."
The prints are based on the Japanese mayoke talisman that wards off demons. Rather than create a single image, Mullowney printed 21 copper plates onto 170 panels of 9-by-10-inch kozo shikishi paper, handmade by Hirokuki Fukunishi of Nara, Japan. To make the 85 prints in the edition, he joined and seamed the single images, combining them with paper, silk, Japanese book pages, antique kimono fabric and other exotic surfaces.
Fredericks notes that the contemporary art of Hawai'i's printmakers is balanced by a "Whistler to Warhol" exhibition across the street in the Henry R. Luce Gallery of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, showcasing prints from the 19th century to the 1970s. In 1928, a year after Anna Rice Cooke founded the Academy, the Honolulu Printmakers held its first annual exhibition, celebrating printmaking into 2010.