Yeah! I woke up Monday morning after this year’s 9-day Sunapee Fair in a great mood . . . happy to be done with most of the work, happy with the memories, looking forward to doing the event again next year, and really pleased to have some time to clean up the shop, organize all manner of things, and generally get my life back in order.
This year’s fair wasn’t the best for sales I have ever had (that prize goes to the demonstration booth we set up in 2010), but somehow it felt the most successful. Parker and I probably sold around 100 prints . . . not something to complain about, and maybe it felt successful because I liked the way the booth set up worked out. On one of the days a group of four women stepped in to visit, all wearing wonderful hats. I pulled out my camera and clicked away. Here is what my camera saw:
The fellow on the right is Parker Potter, who I think of as a both a very dear friend, and patron saint of NH printmakers. Parker helped with sales on all of the nine days, and is probably the main reason why I am thinking of this year's Sunapee Fair as my favorite yet.
My friend Liz Shepherd recommended I do it . . . “you’ve never submitted work to the Boston Printmakers Biennial? Oh you should do it this year, Jim Dine is the juror. It’ll be a big deal if you get in.”
I went with my friend Chess to the opening. We were happy to run into Dale Evans and his wife Marjorie. We met up with the woodblock printmaker Don Gourvette who I hadn’t seen in years, and I met Bill Cass, who teaches printmaking at the NH Institute of Art. It was interesting to hear one or two stories, to hear of a young printmaker who submitted online and flew from Calgary, Alberta to see his carved woodblock (his was one of the pieces that was definitely not a print) hanging in the show.
After we left Chess asked me if I was pleased. I told her I liked how my prints were hung, and I liked the multiple red dots and “patron’s choice” stickers I saw below my prints, but actually I was a bit disappointed. She asked me why, but beyond the fact that the show seemed to include some things that I wouldn’t even have classified as prints, I had a hard time explaining . . .
until the next morning when I turned on my e-mail. Coincidently, my friend and neighbor Chris Jackson had posted a you-tube link he encouraged people to watch. He subject-lined his e-mail “Art is Beauty”, and the video, by an Englishman named Roger Scruton, is titled “Why Beauty Matters”.
The video put flesh to my feeling about the print show, that there was in much of the work in the show more emphasis on idea than on worked out beauty, or art. I wished there had been more entries that had me thinking “oh look at that!”. Much of the imagery seemed to be self-conscious, and more about statement rather than about the developed, intriguing, or beautiful. I had noticed this in contemporary art before. When I am working with shapes and colors I am always trying to make things work, trying to get relationships of shape and color to “sing”, and to be as beautiful as I can make them. But some artists today don’t seem to be trying to do anything like this. This is what Roger Scruton is concerned about.
It might explain also why I got an e-mail that same next morning from Sturdy Waterman, who runs the Page-Waterman Gallery in nearby Wellesley, MA. A few hours later Chess and I stopped by the gallery, and I really liked what I saw there. There was work by some Japanese artists, and Sturdy had hanging two beautifully framed small caran-d’ache pieces by my friend (and former student) Sandy Wadlington that I recognized right away. Sturdy bought 8 of my prints outright for his gallery, and I was pleased to be initiating a gallery relationship without having to do any framing!
Hmmm, if you get interested in the Page-Waterman Gallery, I might mention something about the link posted above. Their web-site has the essential info, such as gallery hours, location, etc., but it seems that to get a taste of the work they are involved with you can find out more by visiting their facebook page. Lots to look at there.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is the junior senator from NH and a great patron of the arts and things made in her state. After a little coffee get-together Wednesday morning to talk about the “Celebrate NH” event planned for Thurs evening we decided to get right to work hanging the prints. Like any activity on Capitol Hill (and maybe just about everywhere else if you think about it), there was more to it than one might think. Tim, the Senate handyman (with years of experience hanging pictures in the various offices), was pretty skeptical when he arrived and found we had our tape measures out and didn’t plan to just do the job “by eye”. The Senator arrived just as we were finishing up, and her first reaction was not of pleasure. ”They’re too low” she exclaimed in disappointment. I tried to talk her into accepting our logic but it became clear she was right. Actually it was only the five prints to the right we had to raise up and we had that job done in a flash.
I think the prints look good and am hoping they will breathe a bit of NH mountain air into the place. Hopefully they will bring to her luck in handling some of the problems she is no doubt having to deal with in this room.
I started making woodblock prints in 1993, soon after the birth of our first son, Nathaniel. In 1995 I began making prints full time (I had been a carpenter, cabinet-maker, and builder since graduating from college in 1981). READ MORE