Currency, An Exchange
Curated by Dylan McManus
Artists: Dylan McManus, Todd Martin, Molly Rausch, and Curtis Readel
Venue: Team Love/Raven House Church Street, New Paltz, NY 12561
This playful show twists and expands on various terms and aspects of printmaking. Using printed US currency as a theme, Currency, an Exchange refers to our existence within a capitalist society as we exchange money for goods and services. Curator Dylan McManus has selected the work of three fellow artists whose work deals with this theme and his new suite of seven prints, Portraits of a Recession, is also featured in the show at Team Love/Raven House’s wonderful little space in New Paltz.
Printmaking is ideally suited to an exchange of ideas between maker and audience and between fellow artists, both in regard to the creation of the multiple and its ability to reach a wide audience, and the nature of collaborative work and community in the print shop setting. The show’s title also refers to printmaking as an exchange of ideas through imagery that is most often generated as multiples. It speaks to contemporary printmaking techniques in many ways as well, referencing an exchange of older methods such as engraving for newer ones such as digital printing. Another layer of word play refers to the idea of a print exchange, something that many printmakers organize and participate in. A print exchange is based on a concept/title and usually has the restriction of a paper size, and possibly technical restrictions.
Each artist in the exhibitions uses prints to realize their work in various manners. Painter Molly Rausch uses printed matter as a basis for her small, colorful paintings and collages. For example, there is Early currency came in perforated sheets, an image of a fascinating eight-cent bill. Rausch’s stamp paintings provide wonderful opportunities for imagery that acts as allegory for the current economic situation, in particular, with the U.S. Postal system crisis itself. 200 Years of Postal Service, based on an image of a thirteen-cent stamp, harkens back to an earlier time. The steam engine train depicted on it reminds us of the grand heyday of the rail system, of robber barons, and if not obsolescence, then certainly the constantly shifting horizon, the dawning of a new age and the new ways that come with it. Ear of Providence features the pyramid from a US dollar bill refers to Egypt’s even more ancient lost empire, and reminds us of that country’s current turmoil.
Curtis Readel has been working with currency for several years, embarking on this concept just prior to the 2008 economic recession. Cutting one-dollar bills and collaging them together, Readel creates images that refer to the financial institutions driving the American (and also global) economy in ironic and humorous ways. Two of Readel’s four letter word collages feel like the lines of a comic book alter ego exclamation for a storyboard where one has lost a job, couldn’t pay a bill on time, or looked at a retirement account after it has tanked. His most dramatic piece in the show depicts the Empire State Building, alluding to New York City and Wall Street, and what was once the tallest building in the city for many years. The Empire State Building regained this title once more after September 11, 2001, but recently lost it in 2012 due to reconstruction of One World Trade Center. The Devourer II riffs on Edvard Munch’s The Scream, a work that set new auction records in May of 2012, selling for 120 million dollars. (During the course of Currency, An Exchange, on November 12, 2013, Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud eclipsed this sum, the Bacon panels selling at 142.2 million dollars.)
Todd Martin works with currency as an aspect of performance and activism, and during the exhibition he sits in the gallery or in front of it several hours each week as he types messages on dollar bills with an old typewriter. Visitors can either exchange their bill for one Martin has already typed on, or they can request a special message. He urges the viewer/consumer to consider what they are purchasing and where they are spending their money with this subversive act. The performance aspect is effective in providing a platform for engaging in conversations about local and sustainable economies and generates interest as passersby stop and become intrigued about what’s on the walls inside. Martin began this project as the 99% movement took off during 2011 and has continued it. New Paltz with a mind towards sustainability and local commerce provides a great audience that includes locals, students, and tourists.
Dylan McManus’s exciting new prints are the smallest works on paper the artist has created to date, but they are powerful and innovative. A playful collaboration, this series employs bills with engraved images as a substrate. McManus’s work with currency was inspired by the economic downturn of 2008 as well, and by the working class. The engraved bills U.S. will eventually be replaced by digitally printed ones. This replacement of our printed currency by the most standard current printing method reminds one of questions and conversations around printmaking’s current use of traditional and digital technology. Six portraits and one self-portrait are “printed” on one-dollar bill fragments and displayed against a black background. The images are burned into the bills with a laser cutter, the artist controlling the depth of the burn so that the material is singed to various degrees, or burned all the way through. The result of this digital pyrography is striking: delicate facial features, t-shirt logos, and plaids are realized in highly sensitive manner by means of digital technology, and have the feeling of sketches rendered with a sharp pencil and carefully handmade laces. Upon close inspection one can see the watermarks embedded in the bill revealed by the laser cutting process in new ways, and the various layers of the bill when the delicate linen fibers trail across the black background. These tiny threads emphasize the material composing the substrate of the bill and how the bill is composed of and now held together, by very apparent individual threads.
Team Love Raven House is open weekends 12:00 – 5:00pm and by appointment. Go see the Currency an Exchange; it will be on display until November 30th, and a closing party will be announced on Team Loves Website, http://www.tl-rh.com/.
Jill Parisi 11.18.2013
We are proud to announce Paula von Sydow, curator at the Horst Janssen Museum in Germany, will hold a lecture at 6:30PM in LC 108 this Tuesday, October 2!
Open to the entire SUNY - The State University of New York and community, Sydow’s lecture will focus on the work of Horst Janssen. Janssen, 1929-1995, was an artist employing drawing, etching, and wood engraving in his works; he was also a lithographer, a poster artist, an illustrator and author. Landscape, erotic, portraits, still life and self-portraiture characterize his extensive work. Paula’s lecture will also familiarize the audience with the International Print Network. The Horst Janssen Museum is one of the hosts of the International Print Network exhibitions, along with institutions in Poland, Sweden, Austria and Turkey. Ms. von Sydow curated the most recent exhibition in this series.
Last week, we were incredibly fortunate to have artist Dean Dass speak at SUNY New Paltz!! Addressing the importance of art in today’s world, Dass inspired many students to “re-enchant the world” and encourage hope through their work. A professor at the University of Virginia, Dass is an artist who blurs the lines of artistic disciplines by developing his concepts through bookmaking, printmaking, painting, and sculpture. Always maintaining a connection to the natural world, the central focus of Dass’s work is the ideas of reconstruction and rebirth. His artwork has been featured across the country, including Finland and Poland. Learn more about Dean at http://www.virginia.edu/art/studio/faculty/dass.html.
New Semester! New Events!
To kick off the Fall 2013 semester, the Print Club will be LIVE SCREEN PRINTING this Thursday, September 19th! Beginning next week and continuing throughout the semester, the SUNY New Paltz Print Club will be selling reusable hand-printed tote bags at the SUNY New Paltz Farmers Market. The bags will feature student work and sell for $5 to $8 each. We will also be selling T-shirts and patches from $2 to $10.
Join us outside of the Lecture Center from 10:30 - 2:30 every Thursday!