Some 200 people turned out for the opening of Conflict: Works on Paper, the thirty-fourth annual juried competition at the Brand Gallery in Glendale, California. I am more than pleased that both of my submitted drawings, Voices of Justice and Not Our Children, Not Their Children, received top awards for excellence. Out of 400 entries made to the show, only 93 were accepted; and of those – only two artists were allowed more than one submission, myself being one of those so privileged. To top off the evening, Brand Gallery Chair, Irena Raulinaitis, informed me that the Glendale special supplement to the Los Angeles Times (weekend edition, Dec., 3-4, 2005,) printed an announcement for the exhibit using one of my drawings (Not Our Children, Not Their Children) as a large illustration.
As if all that were not enough, I then had the pleasure of meeting the show’s Associates Purchase Award winner, Mr. Patrick Merrill. A master printer, carver of woodblocks, and fellow social realist, Merrill won top prize in the show for his utterly amazing woodcut prints, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The prints are large, bold, and chilling updates on the medieval theme – depicting a modern militarist, politician, Klansman, and scientist riding roughshod over suffering humanity. As the four terrifying horsemen ravage the human race with chemical weapons, rocket launchers, scythes and clubs; as they traipse over a sea of corpses and crushed skeletons; a backdrop of the world’s modern cities are seen collapsing and on fire from multiple atomic explosions. The large black and white prints are a disturbing and foreboding visage of today’s troubled world.
It was deeply satisfying talking with Merrill, not only for our shared vision as artists, but because of our mutual love of traditional printmaking. As it turns out, Merrill runs a fine art print studio that specializes in the production of etchings, monoprints, wood and linoleum cuts. As a fervent advocate of handmade prints that are created in time honored fashion, I’ve been concerned age-old methods and traditions have lately been overlooked in favor of new media and technologies. I’m all in favor of the digital arts – but to me there’s nothing comparable to the textured grain of a good woodcut, the “bite of the plate” seen in a first-class etching, or the immediacy found in a superior monoprint. I look forward to working with Patrick Merrill on a suite of prints, and we agreed to meet in the near future to discuss the possibilities of such a collaboration. In the meantime, for those interested in working with a master printer well trained in traditional intaglio printmaking, contacting Pat Merrill Fine Art Prints in Montclair, California, would be an excellent first step.