10 February 2006
Joshua Rome in Northampton
Tonight the Watkins Gallery in Northampton, MA, opened a show of woodblock prints by Joshua Rome, an American artist who lived in Japan for over 20 years and studied with Kyoto printmaker Clifton Karhu, another well-known expatriot Western woodblock artist. Unlike Karhu, who uses fairly heavy black line keyblocks, Rome works extensively with texture, showing a great deal of wood grain as well as "goma zuri" texture. Rome has clearly experimented quite a bit and stretched the traditions of moku hanga to achieve his distinctive style. The show at the Watkins Gallery, called Winter Whites, features winter scenes in which the snow is created with spattered white paint rather than the traditional carved-out snow flakes. There are about 15 pieces displayed at Watkins, many of them last copies of older sold-out editions, which I found interesting. I wondered if perhaps he isn't generating much new work at this point. However, I also learned that Rome appeared on Martha Stewart's TV show in 2000, so it's likely he sold a lot of work around that time!
The show will be at Watkins through March 5, so I'm sure I'll be going back again and again to study the works up close. A large collection of Rome's prints can be seen online at the Ren Brown Gallery.