Generating Buzz

Goya-Girl artist Louisa Chase sets the tone as art lovers swarm to the Baltimore Fair for Contemporary Prints.

March 23, 2002|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

A few weeks ago, artist-publisher Martha Macks and her Goya-Girl Press packed up their best fine arts prints and headed off to New York for the annual Armory Show, one of the world's premier venues for contemporary art.

But this weekend, Macks and Co. won't have to go anywhere - because the art world is coming right here to Baltimore.

The Baltimore Fair for Contemporary Prints and New Editions opens today at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The two-day event will bring to town nearly two dozen galleries, dealers and publishers from across the country that specialize in the fine art of printmaking.

"This is a unique opportunity for the BMA to bring the best of contemporary printmaking to Baltimore," said Darsie Alexander, the BMA's associate curator of prints, drawings and photographs, who helped organize the fair. "It offers Baltimore art lovers a chance to see some of the most significant and provocative prints being made today and a front-row seat on the latest developments in contemporary art - all without ever having to leave home."

Among the artists whose work will be offered for sale are big names such as Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, Louise Bourgeois and Roy Lichtenstein.

But there will also be many opportunities for viewers to get to know younger, emerging artists, and to check out the broad range of techniques employed by today's sophisticated printmakers, from silk-screens to woodcuts to computer-generated images.

Macks' Goya-Girl Press, for example, will be unveiling a new original print by artist Louisa Chase, whose colorful abstract images of birds, insects and other forest critters are little visual metaphors for the emotional life of the artist.

Chase, a painter and printmaker who lives and works in New York, regularly travels to Baltimore to make prints at Goya-Girl Press, which has published more than a dozen of her sought-after prints since 1996.

Known for her use of sophisticated printmaking techniques, which often combine traditional lithography and etching with watercolor, collage and unusual printing papers, Chase's latest print, titled Buzz, depicts a tangle of swirling lines against a pink ground to which the artist has affixed delicate yellow and black paper cutouts representing the bodies of honey bees and their silver wings.

"It's an image I've been working on for some time," Chase said in a recent interview. "Essentially it's about the buzz, not the bee. It's a picture of the sound created by a swarm of bees.

"The drawing on the plate represents the movement of the bees, then I put on the bees in chine colle, a collage technique where paper is attached to the image and put in the press so that it becomes part of the print," Chase said. "Lithography tends to be very flat, so this is a way to get some dimensionality into the image."

Because of the collage technique employed by Chase, no two prints of Buzz will be exactly alike. Goya-Girl Press will publish the signed works in an edition of 20.

This year's print fair will also see another important first, the Artists and Editions Award for the most significant printmaking project of the preceding 12 months.

This year the award goes to pioneering French-born New York artist Louise Bourgeois, whose innovative prints, drawings, paintings and sculpture made her one of the most influential women artists of the 20th century. She will share the award with her publisher, Harlan and Weaver Press of New York.

The weekend will also feature a lecture and reception with artist Willie Cole today at 5:30 p.m. Cole's sculptures, installations and prints, which employ discarded domestic objects and often refer to African-American history and spirituality, have been widely exhibited in this country and abroad, including one-person shows at galleries in New York and Paris.

The Baltimore Fair for Contemporary Prints and New Editions is sponsored by the BMA's Print and Drawing Society. Proceeds from the sale will be used to purchase contemporary prints and drawings for the museum's collection.

Exhibit

What: The Baltimore Fair for Contemporary Prints and New Editions

Where: The Baltimore Museum of Art, Art Museum Drive at North Charles and 31st streets

When: Today and Sunday

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission: $7 most adults, $5 students and seniors

Call: 410-396-7100 or visit the museum Web site, www.artbma.org

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