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ONE PIECE: Alyssa Tauber

Posted on 04/01/2017 at 1:55 PM

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.

ONE PIECE: Jeanine Coupe Ryding

Posted on 03/15/2017 at 1:50 PM

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.

Jeanine Coupe Ryding, Fill the Lake, Woodcut print with Sumi ink, 73 x 28

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.

ONE PIECE: Larry Welo

Posted on 03/11/2017 at 1:54 PM

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.    

ONE PIECE: Aaron Tinder and Amy Uthus

Posted on 01/12/2017 at 3:20 PM

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!

Aaron Tinder

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. 

A Fictional Version
, Found materials on paper, 15 x 11 inches

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. 

Amy Uthus

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.

Precipice, Porcelain boat, charred wood, 1 5/8 x 3/4 x 1/2 inches

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. 

ONE PIECE: Justin Rogers

Posted on 01/05/2017 at 11:14 AM

Justin Rogers spends his spare time capturing some of the most fantastic views around Iowa. Many of them are on view NOW at the gallery in our current exhibit (closing January 14, so tick tock!)

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!


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