Joel Elgin is one of our absolute favorite people on earth and we are so happy to share the Celtic legend that served as his inspiration for the series of prints that will be on view at Olson-Larsen until April 15.
As a fine for killing the father of Lugh of the Long Hand, the commander of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the sons of Tuireann: Brian, Luchar and Lucharba are sentenced by Lugh to perform a series of seemingly impossible quests.
Joel Elgin, Lucharba the First Son of Tuireann, Color intaglio, 18 x 24
The first task was to steal the heavily guarded, Three Apples From the Garden in the East of the World. The most beautiful apples of the world, the color of burned gold, with the power to ease the pain of wounds or sickness and to never diminish, despite being eaten.
The most clever of the brothers, Brian, changes them into beautiful hawks, and in that form they avoid the spears and arrows of the guardians and steal away the apples from the garden and finally escape the king’s three daughters, who in the shape of three ospreys, chase the hawks to the sea, heavily wounding the brothers with flashes of lightning.
Our exhibit, SEVEN PRINTMAKERS is on view until April 15, so if you haven't checked it out you've got a little time still. We've admired Alyssa Tauber's work for years, so we were very excited when she accepted our invitation to be part of this exhibit. Below is her "One Piece" entry, which is as entirely captivating and thorough as her artwork.
As an undergraduate I studied literature as well as art, and writers have been important influences on my work. I am interested, not in illustrating their stories, but in understanding their ideas. One of the most important ideas I found was William Faulkner’s conviction that a person could find worthy subjects in the vicinity of her “own little postage stamp of native soil,” as Faulkner put it. This was not obvious to everybody at the time -- many writers from the U.S. and Latin America felt they needed to go to Europe to find worthy topics. I want to make art which is accessible to everyone, not just people who have art degrees, and part of making the work accessible is using subjects which most people can relate to. Consequently, I try to find my subjects in the places I myself have been and the objects I myself have seen or lived with. Wind turbines have become part of the midwestern landscape.
Alyssa Tauber, Tripods, Collagraph, 22 x 27
Drive for any distance and you are likely to see either the blades being transported, or the turbines themselves. No matter how many times I see the turbines, they always catch my attention. They are, after all, hard to miss. They are huge, man-made, industrial objects situated in pastoral landscapes, where they seem incongruous. They look even stranger at night, when some of them have a “face” consisting of red lights. I’m often interested in objects which can be personified, such as chairs, which have “arms” and “legs,” and the turbines seem to have “faces” and “arms” as well as bodies. This makes them appear almost monstrous. The title of the piece, “The Tripods,” is an allusion to the alien machines in H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds. In this print the word “tripods” could refer to the three blades, or the three “creatures” themselves. The title leads to another element which drew me to the turbines -- their ambiguity. Some people see them as “good” objects -- they provide clean, renewable energy, and are sometimes viewed as symbols of the midwest. However, others see them as “bad” objects -- they kill birds, take up space which could be used for farming, appear inconsistent with the “rural” quality of the landscape, and are noisy.
My art invites the viewer to confront this ambiguity for him-- or herself.
How thrilled were we that Jeanine Coupe Ryding picked one of our absolute favorite pieces from SEVEN PRINTMAKERS to highlight? Very. The below is Jeanine's description of the inspiration and process for her print Fill the Lake.
I walk to Lake Michigan every week since it is just a mile from my studio. I have seen its colors in all seasons, day and night and all kinds of weather. When I can’t swim in it, I watch the lake and changes in the shore and sky. I have seen rain come across the lake like a veil. A curtain of drops that approaches and recedes, giving relief on a hot summer day.
This print is inspired by the lake, it’s moods and the surprises of nature. The block is printed in white ink with a blue oval at the bottom representing the water. When the ink is dry, the print is laid face down on a large piece of plexiglass, sprayed lightly with water and brushed with Sumi ink. The ink is worked through the back to the front of the paper with the brush and time is allowed for the paper to slowly absorb the liquid ink. Whatever appears on the front of the paper is out of my control at this point. It is up to the Sumi, the paper and the humidity conditions in my studio to finish the print. It is always a surprise and worth waiting for the paper to dry before lifting the print to see what is there. It’s about working with control and letting go.
Much of the artwork in our SEVEN PRINTMAKERS exhibit has a narrative feel, Larry Welo's work is no exception to that. As always though, we wanted to know more, so we asked him to give us all the details on one of his pieces from the show. Enjoy!
A long time ago, I lived in South Minneapolis. At one end of my street was the Crosstown Freeway and the airport. At the other end of the street was Lake Nokomis. During the warmer months, in the evening, my family and I would walk up 27th Avenue to the lake where there was a small coffee shop that had ice cream. My studio, at the time, was in our home so I would frequent the neighborhood, sketching, and putting together ideas for my etchings. I loved the evening walks up the street, witnessing the transition from day to night, with the sky still bright and the street lights and porch lights gradually coming on.
Larry Welo, Dream House, Color etching, 16 x 20 inches
"Dream House", was one of the places we walked past on those magical evenings from a different time. I created the etching a number of years later from the perspective of living in rural Wisconsin. I used a line drawing from the Minneapolis neighborhood as my source material. The colors and values and mood are taken from my imagination. I worked on the four plate color etching over a span of three years, using three primary ink colors and black. This gave me a wide range of color possibilities when printing the piece. I print the etchings on Gampi Sukiawase, a fine hand made printmaking paper imported by Paper Connection in Rhode Island.
We have not just one ONE PIECE for you, but TWO (I know, right)!!! Invited artists in the current exhibit, Aaron Tinder and Amy Uthus shared with us about one their works we are currently showing. Happy reading!
This piece is a good example of a process that I've been exploring for about a year now. It involves the juxtaposition of dissimilar elements in a way that reconciles them into some kind of formal composition. Specifically in this piece it's an old book cover that's been altered and recycled, combined with fragments of two particular kinds of imagery: floral/natural designs and a drag racing scene from a vintage automotive publication. The use of these kinds of subject matter (which could be interpreted as embodying masculine & feminine stereotypes) forces the elements of the artwork together in ways that are sometimes awkward and unexpected. It results in a composition that utilizes shape and interaction in very exploratory ways, but also finds the common ground in things pulled from diverse source materials. Pattern is something that I deliberately use often as a transition element in these works, and it often becomes a kind of necessary common ground.
The viewer can read this piece as a symbolic interpretation of what happens when influences from divergent sources are forced together (as in genetics from two parents, for example), or simply as a formal exercise in making something awkwardly beautiful from old discarded things. I'm happy either way, because it's both.
The little porcelain boat and charred piece of wood, titled Precipice, represents one of my first forays into small scale sculpture. I love to make large installations that take over entire rooms. However, not everyone who loves art wants to dedicate an entire room to one piece! I have always loved tiny objects. With these two ideas in mind, I decided to try my hand at an intimate scale.
At a direct level, boats are vessels that carry objects and creatures from point A to point B. However, in the process they also transport intangibles - ideas, customs, hopes and dreams. Perhaps it is because of this that boats have historically been used to carry souls from one realm to the next and have come to represent navigation through life.
This boat is made of thin porcelain. In a nod to Viking funerals and my Scandinavian heritage, it sits atop a charred block of wood. Its delicacy and position perched on the edge of a precipice represent a moment of uncertainty. In this moment, a decision must be made - to stay safely sailing in known waters or to take a deep breath and plunge into the unknown.
When we asked him to share more about process, we got a brief but thorough glimpse into the process he uses to capture and complete these stunning images!
I’ve seen other photographers start doing this and I’ve had many questions about some of my images so I figured now is as good of time as any to get started with doing a “How I Got The Shot” (HIGTS) with some of my work. I made this image on August 7, 2016 somewhere in Clay County on the way up to Okoboji for a family reunion. Many times as I’m driving an opportunity for a photograph unexpectedly presents itself and I have to pull over. There are times when I hesitate and don’t pull over and I usually end up regretting it later on. For this scene though, it begged to be photographed!
Iowa Farmscape, Color photograph, 20 x 60 inches
Due to the vastness of the scene before me, I knew I was going to have a hard time capturing it in a single frame. And if I did only do a single frame, a) I wouldn’t be able to blow it up as large and b) a wide angle lens diminishes the size of anything in your background, making it look much smaller than it actually appeared. So, my only option was to make a panoramic image.
It’s one thing to whip out your cell phone and make a quick panoramic image in just a few seconds – the technology has come a long ways making this an easy task. However, on a DSLR it’s much more involved. While in the field, it’s very important that you level your camera and/or tripod ballhead when preparing to make a panoramic image otherwise you risk the images not lining up in post processing and everything you shot was a bust.
Once you are level and have confirmed that while starting to rotate your camera it remains level it is ok to proceed in starting to shoot your panoramic images. Everyone has a different strategy for panoramic images but to be safe I shoot the scene with 50% overlaps between consecutive images. So, wherever I start with my first image, the next one I take after panning right is only 50% further into the scene than the previous. What I usually do is find some sort of landmark on the right edge of the frame and then I will put that into the center of my frame for the next shot, repeating this over and over until I have images of everything I want contained in the resulting panoramic image.
This particular image consisted of 7 different individual images stitched together with post processing. Adding to the complexity, each of those 7 images were a 3 bracket sequence (more on that later) so I took 21 images to make just 1 image. I use the Adobe Creative suite for my editing needs with Lightroom and/or Photoshop handling the majority of the heavy lifting.
As I mentioned above, each “section” of the panoramic image was a 3 shot bracket. The reason I do this is so that I can ensure I have the widest range of highlights to shadows captured in my images. Our eyes can see this wider range from highlights to shadows whereas our cameras cannot. You may have experienced this while out shooting if you’re trying to capture a beautiful sunset with your camera but when you focus on the sky in order to capture the colors you realize that everything in front of you in the foreground is nearly black. Or, let’s say you have some wildflowers in the foreground that you want to include with the sunset but when focusing on them the camera raises the exposure so that everything in the foreground is properly exposed, thus resulting in a “blown out” sky (appears mostly white and you lose all of your color and detail). So, the best way to overcome this is to shoot a bracketed sequence consisting of a properly exposed shot, a deliberately underexposed shot and a deliberately overexposed shot. This way in post processing you can merge the 3 together (also referred to as HDR photography) to ensure you have the widest range of detail in your image.
Once the HDR merge has been completed on each sequence of 3, you end up with the final 7 images that will ultimately make up the panoramic image. As you can see above, there is approximately 50% overlap between each image to give Adobe Lightroom enough data to work with in it’s panoramic stitching process. If there isn’t enough overlap, then the images will fail to stitch and your panoramic image will be ruined. Also, just to note, since I am sharing screenshots of my editing workflow, you may be wondering why the resulting image looks so much different from the original “negatives” that were shot. I choose to shoot strictly in RAW format (versus the default JPG that most phones and new photographers use with their DSLR’s). A RAW file contains a lot more detail that can be fine-tuned in post-processing and when you initially download these images they appear kind of flat and dull. Once you take them into post-processing and work with the sliders then you start breathing life back into them. If you shoot in JPG only mode, your camera will make those editing decisions for you based on what it thinks is “correct” but I choose to override this feature and shoot in RAW so that I as the photographer can make those creative decisions.
After a successful image stitching with Adobe Lightroom, then I can make my final adjustments to white balance, highlight recovery, shadow recovery, contrast and sharpness and then the image is ready to be exported as a JPG file and shared with the world. I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at “How I Got The Shot” – thanks for reading!
We asked Dan Mason to tell us more about one of the paintings that currently on exhibit, and he choose San Lucas Toliman V (my favorite!). Read the below for his response. Then come in and check out this, and all the other, wonderful pieces in NEW WORK.
Caroline (my wife) and I have made three visits to San Lucas Toliman, on the banks of Lake Atitlan, in Guatemala. The trips are medical relief efforts. Caroline is a family physician, and we would go to remote villages with an interpreter and a driver and set up a clinic for the day in the village. People were eager to see the doctor.
The landscape is remarkably beautiful. I was greatly impressed by the volcanoes that surrounded San Lucas. They towered over the villages. Seeing them I could understand why the people over time would identify personalities to the volcanoes, to see them as in some way alive.
San Lucas Toliman V, Oil on linen, 42 x 38 inches
In the mornings I would go out to look down at the village and see the morning light moving across the mountain, and the smoke rising from the cooking fires in the houses below. The impressiveness of the volcanoes presence is what that this painting is about.
When Caroline was seeing patients, I had art supplies for the children, who were eager to draw. As all children do when they draw, they drew what was around them, what was most important. Invariably, their drawings began with the volcanoes.
It's true that that our current exhibit closes in 2 days, but that does NOT mean you don't still have a chance to come in a take a look. You certainly don't have to miss out on some really interesting background on Eugenie Torgerson's latest body of work.
Cause we've got that. Right here.
In her Cartographer's Notes series Eugenie Torgerson generates digital images which combine photographs of buildings, fires, fields, and the floor of the old school where she lives. This concrete surface is a map of sorts-- of floor tiles gone missing, spilled paint, children's footsteps, and the gravity of plain building materials.
Image of the floor Eugenie's of the schoolhouse home
She prints these images on paper or transfer films and works into them with pastel and acrylic. Next the sewing: using Japanese paper cords and bookbinding threads, she translates the image into a fragment of a map, the lost lines of a letter, a broken yet true memory.
BETTER LEFT BEHIND, Digital print on paper, acrylic, pastel, sewing, encaustic, 30 x 36
Into and over these marks and surfaces, she applies encaustic that builds up around and sometimes overcomes the images, the sewing, and the careful plan.
Cartographer's Notes are destination, memory, work, and resolution brought to a stop and held for a moment.
See more of Eugenie's work here.
Our current exhibit is gorge, if you haven't seen it, get here soon. Anna Lambrini Moisiadis' work continues to surprise and amaze us. Here, she shares with us, and YOU a little about one the pieces from her newest body of work. The exhibit is on view until October 1.
Beauty is essential in my art; beauty of imperfections, impermanence and incompleteness. My exploration tries to capture a balance of strength and fragility. It is in that struggle that I find beauty in imperfection.
Fall in 8, Found paper, copper leaf, ink, tape, 8 x 7 inches
The work is a record of my thoughts and experiences; a constant struggle of feeling courageous and insecure. This comes through, in part, with the materials I use. Metal and paper. Both have a warmth I am looking for. However, while metal conjures thoughts of solidity and strength, it can also be pliable and fragile. Similarly, paper can appear to be delicate and flimsy, but it is much stronger and holds a memory.
Anna's work installed in the gallery
My art making process has always been rooted limitations. I place certain controls on the work, for example, in 'Fall In 8' I used the text and markings as my limitations; connecting lines with the punched holes, filling in interesting markings, and blocking out extraneous text. Circles continuously appear in my work. They represent the desire for perfection, but are, in fact, the reality...the imperfections, the mistakes, the beauty in our life. As in 'Fall In 8' the large circle is imperfect. The edges are wavy and bleed into different areas.
We are excited to share this issue of our ONE PIECE series with you.
The hills and valleys of northeastern Iowa have been familiar since my childhood. Physical work and time outdoors defined agrarian culture and my understanding of plants and space. The landscape drawings integrate perceptions of beauty, physical movement of the hand, eye, and body, a tactile sensitivity to plants and nature, and idiosyncratic vision of pattern reduction.
South of Wadena
The landscape drawings begin with seeing - seeing light, dark, and middle tones, seeing the patterns of foliage, seeing the remnant dust or fog settling into the expanses of hills and valleys. The agricultural land, controlled in cultivation, planting, and harvesting contrasts the gestural, lesser touched land.
I document with photographs, planning a sequence of shots for the early morning or late-in-the-day when the directed light creates strong shadows and illuminates the volumes. The color photographs are stitched together to create black and white panoramic vistas. The specific places referenced are noted in the titles.
10/15, work in progress
11/15, work in progress
The drawing surface is Coventry Rag. Coates willow charcoal, a kneadable rubber eraser, and a blending stump are used for various textures, values, and surface alterations to create illusions of form in space. The additive charcoal and subtractive erasure techniques serve to sculpt the spaces and evoke the season.
The process, revealed in the October 2015 - January 2016 documentation of the drawing South of Wadena, unfolds in 20-30 hours spent in the studio. Gestural, light strokes note landmarks and spatial divisions, and varied tonal values define volumes and atmosphere. Working from upper left to lower right, I am able to control both the potential smear of the charcoal and the unfolding landscape presence.