Monday, January 21, 2013

topeka road trip - two museums

"I love sharing the experience of art (and particularly prints) with the members of our group --looking at pieces, sharing our thoughts and reactions. I find that the experience is always enlightening and opens me up to different perspectives. The camaraderie is great. Our common interests allow a diverse group of people to establish new relationships/ friendships as we get together around a mutual love of prints/art."    Paul Sokoloff  (email Dec 9, 2013)
While waiting for members to arrive in the parking garage of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, I listened to a man talk about his Irish heritage. He was an auto mechanic who liked stayed on top of the latest technology in his line of work. He used to tinker with things when he was young to find out how things were put together. In the same way, he liked to attend Print Society outings to learn all he could about art, specifically how paper and ink came together to make prints. 10:00 am (Right, photo by Robin Gross)                                                                             Once the carpool was full, the group I rode with were headed out of Kansas City, taking Interstate 70 west to Topeka, Kansas. The road trip took about an hour and a half, and during the ride and conversation that followed, I found I was among grand parents, parents, working professionals, and college graduates just starting out in the work place. There were teachers active and retired. There would be lunch with people I had not seen for a while and catching up to do. There would be time to discuss art. I was in good company.

When we arrived at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, we were joined by still more members, who had driven their own vehicles. 11:30 am


As we entered the rotunda winter holiday music greeted us. You could hear the flute carols everywhere you walked. The library bustled with activity. Double click on images to enlarge.


The teaching aids at the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery were not lost on me. From the moment you passed through the doors there were display cases with printmaking tools and explanations posted.

Tools for woodcut (above) and
silk screen or serigraph (below)

Yuji Hiratsuka, a Professor of Printmaking from Oregon State University, talked about his etching and chine-colle print, New Birth. In 2008 the Friends of the Library purchased his work for the library's collection. According to IPCNY, "his graphic work has been exhibited in the Americas, Europe and Asia. He has received numerous awards in international competitions including most recently the Equal Prize at Majdanek 2000, VI International Art Triennial, Lublin, Poland. During the last four years he has had 14 solo shows in the United States, and international solo shows in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, Munich, Germany and Geneva, Switzerland. (International Print Center New York,, accessed January 17, 2013)

His prints employ etching, drypoint, aquatint, softground, photocopy transfer or roulette. Read more about his work HERE and HERE. (courtesy of Artelino,, and Oregon State University,, accessed January 17, 2013)

Read a review of his graphics by ARTnews. (courtesy of ARTnews,, accessed January 17, 2013)

Sherry Best explained how the gallery located its jurors. 
One minute video.
"Inviting other people to be jurors, because Sherry Best is not a print maker. Nobody knows Sherry Best's name in the printmaking world. So, we researched and found out who are the leading printmakers, and each year we invited a printer. This year our juror is Yuji Hiratsuka. He was born in Japan and he has been in America for many years teaching at Corvallis, at Oregon State. He has work that is right behind the desk (see next photo). You saw it when you came in."

"Yuji has also been here this week. The first day at Washburn University, working with the Washburn students in printmaking.  Today he is here for us. And tomorrow (Sunday) he will be giving a talk at 7 pm, if you are able to come back for that, on his own work. So at this point I am going to turn it over to Yuji. He will give you an orientation of the exhibit, what he liked about some of the things, and then open it up for some questions, and you will have time to look around."

OSU teacher and printmaker,  Hiratsuka talked with the Print Society group from Kansas City. Two minutes long. "I am quite happy about this outcome. Each work is very diverse."

Guest juror, Yuji Hiratsuka, walked us through this national printmaking competition featuring new and experimental work from artists around the country (photo courtesy of Heather Kearns, Associate Curator, Alice C. Sabatini Gallery / Special Collections, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 SW 10th Ave, Topeka KS 66604)

Mechanic Tom Ferguson disclosed the secret of the napkin print to his wife Debbie. 25 seconds. Andrew DeCaen of Denton, Texas shared his artist statement about Napkin Sleeve (next).
"This image (upper part of print) becomes, if you fold this up in a napkin, that image (upper part) becomes that image (lower part of print). There was a lot going on it that (work)."


There were more to those entries than met the eye. Every design that we beheld was labored over, fussed over, and at last accepted. When one personally took instruction, turned in the classwork/homework, and came to terms with the medium, then one had a taste of understanding. When I first got my equipment together and tried my hand at kitchen litho, I thought I could do it. Frustrated with my tries it became apparent that there was a learning curve.

As a lithography instructor Yuji was well aware of the difficulties that Ashley Nason faced and overcame in her work, "Tracking Signals" (below). Double click on images to enlarge. In the three minute video (next), Yuji pointed out the lithograph process Nason achieved was tricky indeed. The more you knew about the process, the more you could appreciate her result.

The LITHO WORKSHOP in March will open your eyes to the labor required to make the drawn stone magic to work. Make your reservations now. 
       "I personally enjoy the learning process. I want better understand the print making process better. I have learned so much in the first year and still so many questions. I actually think I get more questions the more I learn!  
        My time was most enjoyable when we toured the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery. The "guided" tour thru the printmaking competition was my highlight!                   
       To have the opportunity to get Yuji share his insights on the judging, especially with his artistic insight was immeasurable. As he taught me what to look for, (by what he looked for) his explanations for those observations were what I really enjoyed." Tom Ferguson (email Dec 9, 2013)
"One of the highlights of any print society event is the opportunity to discover new artists and their work. At the Sabatini Gallery I enjoyed seeing the woodcut, "Dinner with Friends" by Jason Stamper. It was my favorite piece in the competition. I just learned that he teaches drawing at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. " John Mallery  (email Dec 9, 2013)
"I enjoyed "Dinner With Friends." likewise. Nice, BIG, great design. There was an evenness in the inking of it. I know from blocks I have burnished by hand, getting the ink even can be a chore.The Rockwell Kent woodcut to the left when you first walked in--caught my eye. I've seen Kent's work in books but not in person."     Karl Marxhausen  (email Dec 9, 2013)
"Oh, yes. The Rockwell Kent was very nice. The Philadelphia Museum of Art had an exhibition of his works this past summer, but I wasn't in town while it was running:"             John Mallery (email Dec 9, 2013)

Two members discuss "Vision I" by Scott Brown, a two panel silkscreen printed on Rives paper. Two minutes.
"The gentleman I was visiting with was Bob Hudson. I was explaining to him how the image is the eye from a dollar bill and that it that each image was like a kaleidoscope - four of the same design rotated around a center point and that each image in the sequence zoomed in closer and closer, containing more information and then in the middle, the reverse happened. You zoomed out until there was nothing there. This was silk screened and reminded us of a "flip book" with clean sharp graphics. The companion set of prints were the same basic idea with a slightly different view of the eye. Very interesting."      Ruthie Osa (email Dec 9, 2013)

Participating Artists from twenty-two states:
Carla Aspenberg, Lawrence, Kansas-- Jennifer Belair, Detroit, Michigan-- Edward Balda, Topeka, Kansas-- Alexander Buzzalini, Sterling Heights, Michigan-- Eliza Bullock, Lawrence, Kansas-- Randy L. Clark, Brookings, South Dakota-- John Bergmeier, Waxhaw, North Carolina-- Sarojini Jha Johnson, Muncie, Indiana-- Scott Brown, Hutchinson, Kansas-- Bruce Muirhead, Clinton, New York-- Christa Carleton, Bozeman, Montana-- Clare Carpenter, Portland, Oregon-- Michael Narcomey, Elgin, Oklahoma-- Kathryn Cellerini, Salem, Oregon-- Brad LeDuc, Topeka, Kansas-- Andrew DeCaen, Denton, Texas-- Brett Colley, Grand Rapids, Michigan-- Brian Paulsen, Grand Forks, North Dakota-- David B. Johnson, Muncie, Indiana-- Matthew Egan, Greenville, North Carolina-- Brian Johnson, Austin, Texas-- Abner Jonas, Athens, Ohio-- Raymond DeCicco, Orlando, Florida-- Kurt Seaberg, Minneapolis, Minnesota-- Constance Ehrlich, Lawrence, Kansas-- Lisa Grossman, Lawrence, Kansas-- Sarah Sears, New York, New York-- Jordan Kirtley, Wichita, Kansas-- Dane Jones, Wichita, Kansas-- Fae Kontje-Gibbs, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts-- JoAnn Boehmer and April Katz, Ames, Iowa-- Laura Smith, Honolulu, Hawaii-- Cynthia Milionis, San Francisco, California-- Robert Schwieger, Lincoln, Nebraska-- Ashley Nason, DeKalb, Illinois-- Jason Stamper, Carl Junction, Missouri-- Pat Nebo, Topeka, Kansas-- Jay Raabe, Cedar Rapids, Iowa-- Kathleen Ristinen, Athens, Ohio-- Rebecca Riden, Prairie Village, Kansas-- Merrill Shatzman, Durham, North Carolina-- Gordon K. Sherman, Hays, Kansas-- Micah Snyder, Roca, Nebraska-- Anne Silber, Boston, Massachuesetts-- Mark Sisson, Stillwater, Oklahoma-- Rob Smith, Cushing, Oklahoma-- David Versluis, Sioux Center, Iowa-- Chris Warot, Aurora, Colorado-- Paulann Petersen (poet), Barbara Mason (printmaker), and Laura Weiss, (book binder), Cornelius, Oregon-- Barbara Westman, Wexford, Pennsylvania-- Amy Jackson and Jeff Wetzig, Minneapolis, Minnesota

(photo courtesy of Heather Kearns, Associate Curator, Alice C. Sabatini Gallery / Special Collections, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 SW 10th Ave, Topeka KS 66604)

Atomic Malt Shop II by Chris Warot, 4-color process solarplate intaglio

Yuji talked about a new product used for intaglio. Three minutes long. "The solarplate is non-toxic. People who are aware of the toxicity of chemicals like this.The photo plate came out 15-20 years ago. It is a light-sensitive steel-backed polymer plate used by artists to draw, paint, make marks, or use photography. You place a negative-positive film image on the plate. The light strikes the plate. The black portion washes away with running water. Where the light hits becomes solid plastic. You ink and print the plate. It is very easy, but expensive. A sheet costs twenty to thirty dollars. You cannot rework the plate. So you must have all your changes made before you scan your image on to the film." As an after thought, Yuji adds, "My house studio looks sort of like that. Every one dreams. If you are a printmaker you do not want to share, you go to the co-op, (you bump shoulders with other people, crowded) who made that mess? I did not do it. You think, some day I would like to have my own space to work in. I do have my own studio." (Solarplate link,, accessed January 13, 2013) 
Chris Warot of Aurora, Colorado shared the steps that went into his work (placard below).


Printed Image IV cast a wide net to capture the newest technologies printmakers were using throughout the United States this year. The placards beside each work identified the medium and the artist's ideas toward a particular process of making. To the credit of Sherry Best, the gallery director, and Yuji Hiratsuka the catch was INCREDIBLE. It was fitting that the twenty-two state offering be held at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

MORE EXHIBITS at the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery
(courtesy of, accessed Jan 19, 2013)

"I was impressed with the range of print techniques at the Sabatini."      Paul Sokoloff  (email Dec 10, 2013)

12:45 am Lunch in Library Millennium Cafe

"A highlight was the opportunity to spend some time talking to other print society members. At most of the other events that I have attended there has been limited opportunity to get to know fellow members. Having lunch with Doug and Ruthie Osa and Bob Hudson was simply fun. "      John Mallery (email Dec 9, 2013)

"I enjoyed the opportunity to visit and see some wonderful prints."                          Catherine Vesce  (email Dec 9, 2013)


     The Mulvane Art Museum had two print exhibits up. First, Lasting Impressions, Works from the Pruitt Family Collection. Second, Capturing the Spirit by Kenneth Adams from the Mulvane Art Museum Permanent Collection, a Taos printmaker who grew up in Kansas. 2:00 pm

     Washburn College in Topeka was the once the stomping ground for Margaret Whitemore, the wood block printmaker who went on to teach art at Bethany College, in Lindsborg, Kansas (The Linosaus,, Legend Fine Art,, accessed Jan.10, 2013)

 (photo by Robin Gross)

Joab R. Mulvane (1837-1929)
Joab R. Mulvane came to Kansas in 1876 and was perhaps the most successful Kansan of his generation. The breadth of his interests has shaped modern Kansas and far beyond especially in shipping logistics and the strategic advantage of Kansas as a single point distribution hub for North America. He was president of at least nine railroads and presided over the Chicago, Kansas, and Western Railway Company, as its President, when it built over 900 miles of rail lines for the Santa Fe. In 1922 Mulvane pledged a gift of $50,000 (dollars) to then Washburn College to build the Mulvane Art Museum. (courtesy of Mulvane Art Museum)

Old Taos Indian, 1929, Lithograph, Kenneth M. Adams
Taos Indian Girl, 1932, Lithograph, Kenneth M. Adams

Topekan artist Kenneth Adams became the last  on above placard.
Double click on images to enlarge
The Card Players, 1959, Lithograph, Kenneth M. Adams

Collectors Stephen and Mary Pruitt wrote:
"We will never forget the day in 1989 we made our first
 fine art purchase---a dark and mysterious 1890 landscape
etching by the German artist Franz von Stuck. We knew
absolutely nothing about collecting art at that time.
But there was something about that print that seemed
to reach out and touch us."
Read what happened next, click next image.

Since the collection was a family collection,
one could think of it as art for their daughters.
Many of the works were from the Romantic Period.
Note the reference of who had the next print.

"I was recently reading an article by John Bender, "Mass Production and the Working Girl's $2.75," where he lists about a dozen or so of what he considers some of the top print makers of his era. One of the ones he lists is Martin Lewis. I had never seen any of his works, and to see one of his works in the Pruitt Collection was fun. I agree with Mr. Bender - Martin Lewis is a fine print maker."  John Mallery (email Dec 11, 2013)


John Mallery (JM) and Karl Marxhausen (KM) compare four prints at the Mulvane Art Museum. Their four minute dialouge follows.

"La Falaise - Baie de Saint-Malo" by Felix Buhot, etching (above) Double click on image

JM: Etching, drypoint, aquatint, roulette, I mean, all kinds of methods were used to create that (image above).
KM: Yeh, yeh. So, there is more to it. There is more of a story going on there than something else, like this (image below), where it is just....
JM: (chuckle)
"Woman Kneeling Beside Rock" by Erich Heckel, 1913-1914, woodcut (above)

KM: I thought it was interesting on this tag here it says, some people either like it, they love it or they hate it, which do you? To me it almost has a crude feel to it. But then, you've got nuances in here (pointing). Now here you've just got black or white, but then you got some grayscale stuff going on in there (pointing).
JM: You know, the whole abstract expressionism, German expressionism thing, I just don't get it. But visually, this definitely has a strong impact. You know, I don't know.
KM: It is rather bold. Part of me wants to think, what is going on back here? (pointing) What's the story? Why is this, is this just another nude? But even in this rock, they could have had the figure and kept the rock black like this all the way around, they have these striations of the rock (on the other side). And then you got white areas. If I were walking into a museum and saw this I would walk right on by and keep on going. Like who cares about that? But if you stop and analyze it, well then...
JM: If this (German expressionist work) was next to this (image below), I would gravitate to THAT.

"Little Penthouse" by Martin Lewis (above) Double click on image 
KM: This one here (walking over).
JM: Yeh. To me it evokes at least a mood or a tone that I can grasp. That other one, it's like it is a bold image, and it impacts me as an image, but I don't get a feeling from it. This I get a feeling from.
KM: It is almost a fog up here (pointing)
JM: It is a she isn't it? Who is she talking to? You know, what is going on behind that door? She is alone on this balcony or back area, and why is she alone. You have the fog. It's night time, What's happening here?  (pointing) To me, this tells a whole huge, tells a story, and basically makes you ask questions and have a feeling about why is she there? Is she ostracized? Does she take herself outside because she wants to be away from everyone else, and be an observer, so, what is going on in the room? I don't know.
KM: I am wondering if it is more intimate because you have grayer, you have more sensitive, it is not as harsh. That other one was harsh and sort of "in your face." But this one has some gentle passages, the way the fog is up at the top, the way it is gentle. But it is also striking, it is...
JM: (pointing to the figure) Was is a boyfriend or a lover? To me it has more feeling. What do you think about that? (image below) It is just as dark.

"A Pool In a Trout Stream" by Franz von Stuck, etching. Double click on image

JM: I don't understand the title, so I can't.
KM: I am wondering if there is a play on words there. To me, it almost looks like the lens was out of focus. It is not very crystal clear what it is, obviously trees and a reflection. It's not as tidy.
JM: It's water, isn't it? (pointing to image above)
KM: I think it's a reflection in water.
JM: A little pond.

More on Felix Buhot---courtesy of William P Carl fine prints,, accessed January 15, 2013)

More on Martin Lewis---courtesy of Meili Paper Files,, more on Lewis, Art Blart,, more on Lewis, Harris Schrank Fine Prints,, accessed Dec.23, 2012)

More on Franz Von Stuck---courtesy of Sovereign Collection Fine Art Gallery,, Dec.23, 2012

Romantic period defined---courtesy of Dummies,, accessed Jan 20, 2013)

Kithen litho---courtesy of Moss Creek Journal,,, Emilion, Her video link was sent to me in an email from etcher Jean-Marc Couffin of France,, accessed Jan 19, 2013)

More on John Bender---courtesy of Private Library Holding,, Fred Geary: Swept Up By The Revival,, accessed Jan 21, 2013)


"Discussing works and interests at the Mulvane Art Museum was enlightening as well. I have limited opportunities to discuss my interest in prints/art, so the time at the Mulvane was really enjoyable." John Mallery (email Dec 12, 201

 Our group headed to the van and departed for Kansas City 4:00 pm
"Good company is the phrase that came to my mind. For me, it was the listening and sharing in the van en route to Topeka, Kansas that was the highlight for me."  Karl Marxhausen   (email Dec 9,2013)    "It was nice to meet you. As the driver, I was a little disconnected with the conversation behind me on the way up, so I was a little jealous on what I missed. My wife and I enjoy the van because of camaraderie as much as the destination. And when you add the Print Society it is a little slice of heaven!"         Tom Ferguson  (email Dec 9, 2013)

 topeka museum road trip report submitted by Karl Marxhausen