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September 17, 2008 > Systems of Sharing

Systems of Sharing

By Lila Wahrhaftig

Olive Hyde Gallery and the California Society of Printmakers present an unusual and interesting exhibition of original, hand-pulled prints, "Systems of Sharing: On the Surface." This is part one of California Society of Printmakers 95th Annual Membership Show. Almost forty pieces are on display at the gallery.

The title of the show, "Systems of Sharing: On the Surface," refers to the composition on the block, plate, or stone used in each art work being totally on the surface. No lines or images are cut below the surface of the matrix; everything is on the top. Monotypes, which are one-of-a-kind images painted or rolled on a blank etching plate, serigraphs which use a silk screen for image creation, and lithographs where the drawing is done on the surface of a large, specially treated smooth stone (often weighing over one hundred pounds) as well as digital elements done on that most modern of tools, the personal computer, comprise many of the mediums used in this innovative show. However, all prints on display have hand-done elements; many of them are completely done by hand using very old and slow methods, some of which date back more than two hundred years.

Sherana Harriette Francis' lithograph, "Stacked" is a visual pun. Using photo techniques, Francis has tripled a single image of a "stacked" (well-built) young man and then stacked the three images on top of one another as a pile of cans might be stacked. Donna Orem's "Sun and Snow" is an acrylic monotype of painterly strokes on a blank etching plate using etching paper, Orme ran both plate and paper through a press to create the finished art work. It is a pure, joyous exercise in abstract color and shape. Snow's image transfer is an artistic reminder of 9/11 and the destruction of the Twin Towers. The alternating bands of image and blank paper evoke both the creation and destruction of great societies and their monuments.

The well-respected California Society of Printmakers, now in its 95th year, is a juried, international, membership organization, and regularly schedules exhibitions locally, nationally, and internationally.

Printmaking was the first medium in which art for the middle classes was created by such masters as Rembrandt, Albrecht Durer, and Henri Toulouse De Lautrec. Durer, in fact, used his woodcuts much as we use travelers' checks today, carrying bundles of prints to sell on his journeys through Europe and Italy. The images on display in this exhibition are innovative, beautiful, and affordable, a rare combination for the art viewer.

Systems of Sharing
Now through October 4
Thursday through Sunday
Noon to 5 p.m.
Olive Hyde Art Gallery
123 Washington Blvd., Fremont
(510) 494-4228.

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