THE WEDGE — This is the eleventh installment of the annual Jerome Emerging Printmakers’ Residency exhibition at Highpoint Center for Printmaking, and this year’s trio of artists presents three distinct bodies of work, each intriguing in its own way.
Hend Al-Mansour trained as a doctor in Cairo, Egypt, but after moving to the U.S. in 1997 she began to focus on art-making fulltime. Al-Mansour’s prints here are inspired by two traditions from her hometown of Al-Hasa, Saudi Arabia: henna body art and Saudi Arabian folktales.
Al-Mansour holds a master’s degree in art history from the University of St. Thomas, and she wrote her thesis on the changing henna traditions of Al-Hasa. She describes in a brief essay accompanying the exhibition a mid-20th century break in henna traditions, when older, geometric patterns gave way to flowery, free-flowing modern designs.
A henna-dyed hand is the focus of each Al-Mansour print, in most cases surrounded by the text of a folktale written in Arabic script. For her, the prints recall being held by a grandmother, her hands covered in a traditional henna pattern handed down mother-to-daughter over generations, as she tells an old story that was passed on in much the same manner.
In a very different way, printmaker Michael Gordon also seeks to evoke a sense of place; in this case, the post-industrial ruins of the old Twin City Brick Company factory in Lilydale. It’s a scene described in rough textures: the end grain of wood beams and chipped bricks that appear to be half-buried in dirt.
The prints are made at a double-remove from their source. Gordon first makes latex casts of the materials onsite and then pulls prints from the casts.
What results is an impression of an impression covered in patches of thick, puckering ink, speckled with voids where the paper shows through. He isolates these images in white space, and they seem to encompass both the brawniness of the brick-making industry and its subsequent decay.
Lindsay Splichal’s is an even more unusual type of printmaking project, one that combines prints and printmaking materials into a cluttered but cohesive installation. What pulls the disparate objects together is the flag-like repeating stripe pattern that shows up on the layers printing plates and fiberboard arrayed around the room.
Other studio objects are gathered: cans of ink, incised intaglio plates, some shelving and a half-hidden self-portrait of the artist. Light shining through a printed glass panel casts a shadow of stripes on the wall.
There are elements of both chaos and control, but Splichal’s use of patterns imposes a sense of order, if barely.
2013–2014 Jerome Emerging Printmakers
WHEN: Through July 3
WHERE: Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W. Lake St.
INFO: 871-1326, highpointprintmaking.org
THE WEDGE — Has a parking lot ever looked so lovely?
“Paradise Paved,” the title painter Scott Lloyd Anderson gave his solo show at Douglas Flanders’ Uptown gallery, winks at the well-known Joni Mitchell lyrics lamenting the suburbanization of natural spaces. Maybe that’s too easy for Anderson, who instead chooses to see the beauty in the unnatural landscapes of strip malls and subdivisions.
There is something striking about a vacant parking lot in the warm, soft light of dawn, at least as Anderson paints it. The yellow metal poles marking the exit — both knocked into odd angles, undoubtedly, by repeated collisions with snowplows and minivans — almost glow in the early morning sun, and is that hue any less beautiful than the yolky yellow of a daisy?
Anderson, whose work was funded with a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, places himself in the lineage of 19th-century Realist painter Gustave Courbet and the artists of the Ashcan School, who painted urban life as they found it in the first decade of the 20th century, bricks, grime and all. Since his subject is the Twin Cities metro area, the grime in Anderson’s paintings is mostly contained in dirty, half-melted snow banks.
Viewers may start to draw comparisons to more traditional subjects: those parking lots are meadows, the highway entrance ramp a winding river and the busy gas station a bustling piazza. It’s not beauty as we typically define it, but maybe it’s not as ugly as we thought, either.
Paradise Paved: An Oil Painter’s Exploration of the Suburbs
WHEN: Through July 5
WHERE: Douglas Flanders & Associates, 818 W. Lake St.
INFO: 791-1285, flandersart.com