The paper trail leads to the Kimball Art Center
June 4, 2013
Visual arts can be made with a variety of mediums.
Canvas, ceramic, metal, feathers — anything can be crafted, molded and painted into a work of art.
However, one of the basic elements in many pieces of art is paper. To celebrate this versatile medium, the Kimball Art Center will open all three of its galleries to artists who use paper in their works.
On display now in the Garage Gallery is New York artist Aimee Lee’s "Paper Work: A Sheet, a Gathering," which features books and notes that are comprised of Lee’s handmade paper.
Opening on Friday, June 7, will be "Ink, Paper, Scissors" in the Main Gallery.
This exhibit, featuring books, notes, three-dimensional pop ups, is highlighted by lithograph prints created by an array of artists who worked with printer Bud Shark, founder of Shark Ink in Colorado.
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Also, opening on Friday will be "Election: 2007-2013," by Utah artist John Bell in the Badami Gallery.
This exhibit was partially created from photographs taken in Paris during the presidential election between Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal in the spring of 2007.
The exhibits will be on display through July 28.
Both Shark and Bell spoke with The Park Record last week about their works that will be part of the exhibitions.
Shark’s introduction to prints and lithographs reaches back more than 40 years when he was a student at the University of Wisconsin.
"At a certain point, I saw a lithograph at an exhibition," said Shark who called from his studio in Lyons, Colo. "I didn’t know what it was. I asked about it and I found they offered a lithography class in Madison I signed up for it."
That was the beginning of Shark’s interest with printmaking.
"The first lithograph I saw was fascinating because when I first saw it, it looked like a drawing, but when I looked at it again, it didn’t look like a drawing, because the image was sort of inside the surface of the paper," he said. "That’s the thing that still makes it interesting for me today.
"The way the ink lies on the paper intrigues and fascinates me," Shark said. "The layer of ink we use is quite thin and the pressure of the press is quite substantial, so the ink really is pressed into the paper."
Shark will provide 40 prints designed by 14 artists to the Kimball exhibit.
The Kimball Art Center staff worked with Shark to select the prints.
Shark also worked with each artist, including Enrique Chagoya, Red Grooms and Rex Ray, to come up with an image that was made into a lithograph.
"We work with these artists and decide what papers we’re going to use and what colors of ink we’ll put down and how many colors we will use in a printing run," Shark explained. "We build the piece plate by plate, and color by color, and at a certain point in that process, we arrive at a definitive print that is exactly what the artist wants."
After the artist approves the design, Shark will print off numbered works that will comprise what is called an edition.
"The edition is usually quite small and includes only about 25 to 30 pieces," he said. "Those are all printed by hand. We don’t use ink jets or digital printing, and in our case, to guarantee that no further prints can be made, we destroy or deface the printing elements so no more can be made after we finish the edition."
Although he’s been working with lithographs for four decades, Shark still finds himself explaining what a print is.
"There is a lot of confusion about this type of work, probably because there are a lot of prints and reproductions that are done today in the market place," he said. "The ones we do all hand printed, and the thing that makes these works significant, as far as we’re concerned, is that they are all printed from plates, wood blocks or other printing elements that have been drawn or carved or executed by the artist here in our studio."
The payoff is seeing the results.
"To watch the image come together is always a surprise and sort of magical when it comes off the plate or woodblock on the press," Shark said. "You don’t really know how the colors will mix and how it will all fit together."
Salt Lake City-based artist John Bell will debut six new images that comprise his "Election" series.
This is the first time all works will be seen in their entirety, he said.
When Bell was in Paris for the election, he walked the city for weeks and photographed hundreds of political playbill posters that were up throughout the city.
Each (was) in various states of abuse, covered in graffiti, faces torn off, with images plastered over one another over a dozen deep, all mixed in with current street culture art, he said.
"The French are not very reserved or shy when it comes to public expressions of their opinions and politics" Bell said.
Not speaking the language, the artist felt he was experiencing a significant current event through modern hieroglyphics. His intent for "Election" was to curate a show of the photographs, but decided to explore the images further in an attempt to capture something more.
"In reviewing the images, although beautiful in their own right, I felt they simply showed the viewer what was seen, not what was felt, so I wanted to push the images further towards that end," he said.
So, Bell submitted the photos into various graphic programs on his computer and began manipulating them into color graphics with transparent backgrounds.
He then layered them, up to ten layers deep, by juxtaposing images and colors to create a more emotional narrative.
"I wanted to capture what it felt like to be there, the energy and buzz in the air, the clash of opinions, politics and street culture in one of the most vibrant cities in the world," he said.
Bell said he was born with this love of visual arts.
"The first ten or fifteen years of my life I had no idea that I could choose to be anything other than an artist," he said. "I’ve been involved in the creative process for so long, internalizing my craft for so many years that it’s become second nature to me. It’s how I process life; everything is shot through the prism of creativity, so it all inspires me in one way or another.
"Ultimately, my process is a product of the times," he said. "It’s a cross pollinated, hybrid, mashed up culture we live in these days."
Still, his main intent is to convey an idea.
"The goal is message over medium, but I always strive to make professional, aesthetically pleasing work," Bell said. "The mediums for simply making art are too limited, (and) chances are they’ve been used and done before. So, the real challenge and focus for my work is always does the work have something to say?"
The Kimball Art Center, 638 Heber Ave., will open its new exhibits, "Ink, Paper, Scissors," "Election" and "Paper Work," with a member’s reception on Friday, June 7, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The exhibits, which will run through July 28, will feature the works of John Bell and Aimee Lee, as well as prints by artists Enrique Chagoya, Red Grooms and Rex Ray, which were created by Bud Shark. For more information, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org .