Tuesday, December 6, 2016

my divergence is my convergence - ambreen butt

Ambreen's work is rich with observation and reflective commentary on contemporary issues she has personally experienced.

In her talk, she walked us through a chronological journey of her observations and how they have played out in her work. 

It was a breath-taking moment when her final slide of her most recent work appeared - it clearly was a compilation of all her work to this point. Executed with extreme beauty. It was our print.....    
Robin Gross  

One hour 36 minutes. Ambreen Butt at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art (video courtesy of the museum)

Ambreen's presentation inspired a poem the next morning.  These words rang out as her art seemed to alter my Western perspective.  Very therapeutic in light of the Presidential election the day before. Context is everything.  

"The Same"

Donald and Hillary
Both materialistic
Both White
Both Capitalist
Both Christian
Both Western
Both left people out

Both Won
One Won the popular vote
The Other Won the Electoral College 
Both Lost
One Lost the dream of breaking a glass
The Other Lost his way of life
A mirror
The Same
Hallelujah says Leonard Cohen

Inspired by Ambreen Butt - Pakistani artist
Curtis V. Smith  Dec 6, 2016
I was particularly struck by her freedom of inspiration and creativity given the stereotype of rigidity that defines her ethnic and religious background. 

David Mc Gee 

Ms. Butt's presentation on her art and studio practice was a powerful and powerfully engaging experience. From her early pieces in the Persian miniaturist tradition to her recent commission for the walls of US Department of State in the Embassy in Islamabad, Ms. Butt revealed the multiple layers that inform and literally compose her art. This allowed her work, including the print commissioned by the Print Society, to be appreciated in new and deeper ways. I was particularly struck by her suggestion that as an artist, she occupies two worlds -- one that is idealized and without boundaries and another where there is both incredible beauty and great ugliness. Throughout the course of her presentation, it became clear that she absolutely succeeds in deftly weaving together those dual worlds and accomplishes her aim to take the broken pieces from society, process them, and turn them in to something beautiful.      
Stephanie Knappe 

I found her discussion of her artistic process fascinating; how she started with the traditional, extremely detailed techniques and how her style has developed along the way. I also was really interested in hearing Ambreen talk about her thought processes that went into some of her works.

Debbie Sokoloff

I am happy to share my impression of Ambreen Butt's presentation.  It was very enlightening to hear her talk about her process and development  of her ideas.  She was a delight to meet and I applaud the Print Society for bringing her to Kansas City.  We  spoke about her use of shredded money in her work and I mentioned the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank here.  She said that she would like to return to Kansas City for a longer visit, and would like to bring her family to our fair city. I also would like to thank  Kim and the Department of Asian Studies for the lovely reception that they hosted.   I look forward to more shared programs with the museum.  

Susan Lawrence  
Nov 15, 2016

    It was the miniaturist Ambreen Butt who talked about the lengthy steps making her art. The wesselly was a paper surface made of gluing fine cotton to silk - then flattening the sheet with pressured passes of a conch shell. Top to bottom and right to left - over all. Brushes were made from squirrel tail hair put in a pigeon shaft. Tiny distinct marks placed in layers to create the intended pattern. 
    She described the intimacy of creating. Sitting on the floor with her painting in her lap, taking the time to do it. "A very meditative process," she said. 
    As she continued about her ideas, she kept coming back to the layers, the process. The words that came to my mind were TEDIOUS and INTENTIONAL and ENGAGED and IMMERSED.   
    Mylar plastic sheets with the slight brushed on layer of transparent acrylic paint. Something for the watercolor strokes to rest upon.     
    Outline drawings of people. Her pushing a threaded needle through the layers of plastic. "piercing the layers with thread" for the six foot tall creation.  
    Gentle mark making with pencils shaved careful to a point for her work "Ideas Of Rightness And Wrongness." How she had trained to apply slight pressure in those graphite drawings.   read more here
Karl Marxhausen

Pakistani-American artist Ambreen Butt discussed her career, including her 2015 commission for the United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, as well as the latest commission for the Print Society, my divergence is my convergence. This print is available for purchase and on view in the Museum Store. HERE

Ambreen Butt website: http://www.ambreenbutt.com/  

Ambreen Butt was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and received her BFA in traditional Indian and Persian miniature painting from the National College of Arts in Lahore. She moved to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1993 and attended Massachusetts College of Art and Design earning her MFA in painting in 1997. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions around the world and is included in private and public collections such as the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She works and resides in Dallas, Texas.

[Photo credit: Richard Howard]

Saturday, December 3, 2016

curtis smith

In the news cycle this week: former Cuban leader Fidel Castro died. Last night I saw photographs of Cuba taken by Curtis V. Smith. He is a member of the Nelson Atkins Print Society. He teaches science at the Kansas City Kansas Community Center (KCKCC)  He is a photographer. He asked me to view his exhibit as one photographer to another.    Karl Marxhausen

Two minutes. Live jazz group at his photography opening.

On December 16, 2014, I arrived in Havana, Cuba as a photographer with the KCKCC Blue Devils Jazz Orchestra. The orchestra was scheduled to make two appearances that week at the 30th Annual International Jazz Havana Jazz Festival as part of an inter-educational island tour.
While in Cuba President Barrack Obama declared a new chapter in U.S. - Cuba relations by announcing steps to restore diplomacy which had been suspended in 1961.
The coincidence of these events set the tone for a unique photographic tour of an island will all Cuban celebrating a new spirit of hope for a better future. Three of these Blue Devil jazz orchestra photographs were featured in the March 2015 issue of Jam: Jazz Ambassador Magazine. Viva Cuba! Curtis V. Smith,  Artist Statement

Not knowing Curtis other than being with the print society, I felt like the swirl of people, playing drums for a set, the musicians behind the jazz arrangements, his cookbook, friends and associates, captured travels to the exotic -- this was a "slice of his community."   Karl Marxhausen

Three minute. Study in black and white forms with live music.

Six minute. Montage with live music.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

litho print - members

One huge block has been prepared. Margins sealed. Members of the Nelson Atkins print Society divide into two groups and work as a team to draw, drip, scribble, and distribute grease on the open space.

Four minutes.

"was struck by both the sensuality and physicality of the lithography-making process. The way I view and appreciate lithographs will be changed thanks to the afternoon spent with Mike Sims at Lawrence Lithography."  Stephanie Knappe

Drawn stone waits to be moved over to the press bed.

"I will say it was fun to participate as it has been a very long time since I have participated."  Beth Lurey

Five minutes. The 21 x 30 inch Bavarian limestone BLOCK is heavy.

During our visit to Lawrence Lithography Workshop, I was most surprised at the amount of time required to go from a blank stone to a completed edition. Making a lithograph is not just about art, it is also about understanding the chemistry behind the process. Now I understand why lithographers such as Bolton Brown and George Miller were held in such high regard. To become a master lithographer requires dedication, skill and perseverance.  My personal take-away after "marking up a stone" was that when I look at a lithograph (black and white anyway), I have a better understanding of how the marks were made. Not so sure with color. I saw a Miro color lithograph recently and I was completely stumped.  John Mallery

Four minutes. Talc powder on block keeps on grease from smearing. It also acts as an acid resist.

Tricky calculations take experience. Guesswork. Deciding how to etch the block. Mixing it each time. A WEAK mixture lightly etches delicately drawn areas. A STRONG mixture etches everything else. Mike Simms, who manages the Lawrence Lithography Workshop in east Kansas City, is a Master Lithographer.

The etch is a chemical change that locks the grease into portion of the stone. After the etch is done, Simms uses solvents to remove the surface grease. Water is sponged over the whole block. Then ink is rolled on. Then a water wipe and another ink pass. Ink sticks to portions where the grease is locked into the stone. It is time consuming. The number of water wipes and ink rolls are measured. Then a paper sheet goes over it and goes through the press. One image is pulled off. 

Then the process of water wipes and ink roll-ons are done exactly the same as before. Building up the layer ink and water. Then paper through the press and a second image is pulled off. As so on.

Simms proofed the block with six individual sheets of newsprint. Until he was satisfied with the image's appearance. Each member who participated went home with an approved inked lithograph.

Details from both group lithographs follow:

 Group A


Group B

All on one sheet of BFK printmaking paper

Videos and photos by Karl Marxhausen, print society member

Saturday, October 1, 2016

birger sandzen talk


The day trip for the Nelson Atkins Print Society began with lunch at the Swedish Crown Restaurant in downtown Lindsborg. The meal was delicious.

Some members enjoyed the excellent weather and strolled around the corner to the Post Office. Others drove and joined us inside.

From one side to the other was the canvas joined to the wall. A painting of intense color.

The signature of painter.

The mural painting by Birger Sandzén, titled Smoky River, on the west wall of the Lindsborg Post Office was unveiled on February 12, 1938. It was financed through the United States Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture. Sandzén also painted Kansas Stream for the Bellville Post Office in 1939 and Where Kit Carson Camped for the Halstead Post Office in 1941.

Two minutes. Packed lobby of post office to behold the river.

Walk to Sandzen's Studio

It was a beautiful day. David and Roxie McGee and others walked to the Bethany College campus. The group gathered at the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery. First, to tour the artist's studio. Next, to hear about Sandzen's life. And after, to learn about the work of the Prairie Print Maker Maurice Bebb.

The Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery was opened in 1957 and exhibits artwork by its namesake, Birger Sandzén throughout the year. The gallery also exhibits works from its collection and presents art by guest artists and through traveling exhibitions.


Gallery Curator Cori Sherman North introduced the visiting group to Sanzen's life. Part One. Three minutes.

Part Two.Eighteen minutes.

Read Mrs Massey Holmes commissioned Birger Sandzen painting for Nelson Atkins Museum
See Thomas Berger Johnson paintings and metal work, student of Sandzen
See Sandzen Block Prints
See Sandzen Lithographs

Birger Sandzén (1871 – 1954) was born in Blidsberg, Sweden in 1871. He studied art in Stockholm with Anders Zorn and Richard Berg and for approximately three months in Paris with Edmond Francois Aman-Jean. In 1894, he came to Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas to teach languages and assist in the art department and vocal music department. He remained at Bethany for the remainder of his career, becoming the principal art instructor in 1899 and retiring in 1946. Throughout this period, and after he retired as Professor Emeritus, he was a prolific painter and print maker until his death in 1954. During his lifetime he completed in excess of 2600 oil paintings and 500 watercolors. He created 207 lithographs, 94 block prints and 27 dry points, which when the editions are totaled amount to over 33,000 prints. In addition he was a consummate draftsman.

Road trip to the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, Lindsborg, Kansas
Saturday, September 17, 2017

Photo and video credit: Karl Marxhausen