Monday, August 20, 2012

The Art of the Letterpress at Croft Gallery re-post of my article in August 2012

If you find yourself driving down I-35 to Austin, a visit to Waco’s Croft Art Gallery makes for a great stop along the way. I know what you are thinking, Waco has an art gallery worth visiting? When it comes to The Croft Art Gallery, I have found a consistent quality of shows. Last month the gallery featured Bruce Lee Web, with his folk art style and quirky images, I found the show charming, but challenging. This Friday, August the 3rd, the gallery opens with a print show. On display are the works of Lisa Gabriel, Virginia Green, John Hunt, Casey McGarr, Kim Neiman, and Virgil Scott.

The show titled “The Art of the Letterpress,” is heavy on graphic design influences, as you might image from the title. Lisa Gabriel’s series of “Zero thru Nine” monoprints and letterpress were displayed just beautifully. I was impressed with the simple, but very effective design. Each work uses slick mirror images of numbers with the focal point number in the center of each piece. Maybe it is the Jolly Ranchers I had today, but I thought the colors were a delicious orange and green. As a grouping, these works were strong musings on the numbers. My guess is that each work would also be great as a stand alone piece. Virgil Scott has displayed next to Gabriel a perfect complement print. Scott’s hand carved linoleum type titled, “TX” has a wide type font, and though mostly pink and yellow, the colors are mixed through the printmaking process to create saltwater taffy orange. Virgil Scott and Kim Neiman (also in the show) run Studio 204 in Austin where they use letter presses. Their skills and passions seem to shine through each piece they have made.

Casey McGarr created prints that look to be made for an off the wall ad campaign. In the work, “Give Me Twenty-Six,” McGarr references the famous eye charts you see in doctor’s offices, but the print reads like the disconnected text of a Christopher Wool painting and is as fun to comprehend. Another work of McGarr declares, “he’s all hat and no cattle.” Not being a Texas native, I will have to assume this is a local colloquialism.

The moment I saw Virginia Green’s work, I knew she had to be a graphic designer or teach design. Turns out she teaches at Baylor and the works are a perfect balance of animal, text (big and small), and background texture. You might say a textbook example of good design with a soft touch. Worth a mention are John Hunt’s conceptual pieces. Word art can’t help but play in the conceptual art realm, but all the work in this show is more playful and less heavy in content. Its good to have fun with words. These prints will be on display until August 24th. And while you are there, ask to meet some local artists in the upstairs artist studio spaces. for more images.

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