New art exhibit invites critical thinking, conversation

February 1, 2014

By Neil Pierson

New: Feb. 1, 2014, 2:15 p.m.

The question of what constitutes a print has been an unsolved riddle in the art world for a while, and a new exhibit at Sammamish City Hall is attempting to address the issue.

The exhibit, “Crossing Boundaries,” officially opened at City Hall Jan. 21 and will be on display until April 25. The Sammamish Arts Commission, which coordinated the exhibit, will hold a reception and public conversation with the artists at 7 p.m. April 10.

Barbara Robertson’s 2012 work, ‘Loose Blue,’ is a 19-by-21-inch pigment print and acrylic painting. It also features a bar code that can be scanned with a smart phone, and links viewers to music that accompanies the art.

Barbara Robertson’s 2012 work, ‘Loose Blue,’ is a 19-by-21-inch pigment print and acrylic painting. It also features a bar code that can be scanned with a smart phone, and links viewers to music that accompanies the art.

Arts Commissioner Barbara Jirsa curated the exhibit, which encompasses about 30 pieces on the first and second floors at city hall. The art includes several pieces created through traditional printmaking, and others that cross the boundary into digital printing, also known as Giclée (pronounced zhee-clay).

All of the artists being featured are based in the Northwest, Jirsa said. They include Patti Warashina, Fay Jones, Barbara Robertson, Gene Gentry McMahon, Norie Sato, Robert Hardgrave, Roger Shimomura, John Constantine, Cheryll Leo-Gwin and Diane Divelbess.

Several printmaking instructors have also contributed work, including Kim Van Someren, Lisa Hasegawa, Kerstin Graudins, Romson Bustillo and Rickie Wolfe.

“We’re just very pleased with this exhibit; the artists who are featured are ones with wonderful reputations,” Jirsa said.

“The work is really interesting to look at, but they’ll also be part of the verbal conversation that will come in April. There’s been a lot of conversation among artists about what constitutes a print.”

Giclée, a term created by printmaker Jack Duganne in 1991, generally refers to any high-quality inkjet printing. It’s faster and easier than a traditional print, created by transferring ink through a screen to paper, or a hand-pulled print, created by rolling ink across paper and a wood block.

In any case, prints are considered separate works of art because they never turn out identical.

“With the digital, you have a lot of other kinds of options,” Jirsa said. “You can make many that are exactly the same.”

Artists were asked to submit a traditional print and a digital print of their choice, and some submissions were so creative Jirsa had never seen their ilk before. That happened in the case of Barbara Robertson, a Seattle-based artist whose piece, “Loose Blue,” includes a smartphone-scannable bar code that links to music.

Many of the artists are known “far and wide,” Jirsa said, includes Jones, Sato and Warashina. Shimomura is a Garfield High School and University of Washington graduate who went on to teach for 35 years at the University of Kansas.

“He’s a real interesting story, and has done a great deal of work around diversity and around the Asian community,” Jirsa said, noting his family was part of a Japanese internment camp during World War II.

The art commission is looking to generate a large turnout for the April 10 reception.

“Our hope is we offer something in terms of some really fine art, and also the conversation, and that’s what builds community,” Jirsa said.

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