29 March 2010

SGC Philadelphia Trip - Day 1

Last week I took a few days off to attend the Philadelphia SGC Conference, titled "Mark Remarque." I attended this annual conference once before, in Richmond VA in 2008, but since I was pretty new to printmaking in '08 I didn't know a soul at the Richmond conference. Although I enjoyed the content of that conference immensely I was uncomfortable socially.

This year's Philadelphia conference was very different for me. Two years later I've made many contacts in the field, both online and locally, so I was at no loss for people to pal around with. It was wonderful to meet folks that I've known only virtually up until now, and it was also great to hang out with people from my local print studio, Zea Mays Printmaking.

SGC Philadelphia also differed from SGC Richmond in that a huge city-wide print festival called Philagrafika 2010 was in progress during the conference. This raised the level of work that was on display markedly and made it seem as if the SGC conference was taking place all over the city.

But before I went to Philly I stopped in New York to meet with Berlin-based artist/printmaker Eva Pietzcker and a print collector that I had made contact with in November through the IPCNY New Prints show. We had agreed to meet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which doesn't allow suitcases in the coat check room, so since I was rolling into Penn Station on Amtrak I needed to check my suitcase somewhere. I found a spot on W 36th Street and on my way out I noticed Dieu Donné, the nonprofit papermaking workshop. A series of glowing displays had caught my eye and a closer look revealed that they were watermark "drawings" by William Kentridge from an artists book called Sheets of Evidence. (The exhibit is up through April 24.) I spent about 20 minutes soaking in the work, then continued to make my way to the Met.

I was early for our meeting, so I wandered around the Met and stumbled upon a magical and mysterious display of alabaster statues called "The Mourners." Apparently the Mourners are 15th century tomb sculptures from France. Each statue is about a foot high and each seems to possess its own personality and story. The Mourners web site allows you to look closely at each of the 40 or so statues and turn them 360 degrees. The physical exhibit will be at the Met through May 23. I sat on a bench with the mourners until it was time to rendezvous with my friends.

After we ate lunch together, the collector and his wife took us to a Japanese art gallery called Scholten Japanese Art. It was Asia Week in NY and Scholten was showing some beautiful scrolls and other religious objects in a show called "Sacred Symbols in Profane Japan." Eva and I were both deeply drawn in by the exhibit. Eva's favorite piece was a 20th century calligraphy painting that was not unlike some of her own woodblock work in its strength and graphic power.

My favorite piece at the gallery was this 14th century Buddha painting, and another one that was a scroll of 1,000 Buddhas.

I'm grateful that my print collector friend escorted us to Scholten, as it's a high-end and intimate gallery that I probably would never have ventured into on my own. Director Katherine Martin was extremely warm and kind to us, though, and I feel that I'll be able to visit again without feeling too anxious.

After a long day, I got back on the train and headed for Philadelphia and the Loews Hotel.


Daniel L. Dew said...

I AM SO JEALOUS! I love the print by Eva, so simple and yet so evocative.

Oscar said...

I love being your travel companion, Annie. Wonderful art, Eva's print especially, and I was completely taken (and would have sat as you did) by the alabaster mourners.

Enjoy the rich feast of the event.


Mundie-Art said...

Despite the fact that I live in Philadelphia, I wasn't able to attend SGC this year due to time and financial constraints. However, I was pleased to see that you attended a demo by my own beloved Dan "You Might Want to Wire Brush That" Miller, whom I studied with at PAFA. Dan is a great fellow, and has many fantastic tales to spin over a few drinks.

I was also pleased to see your photo of the sculpture of Benjamin Franklin at his printing press which stands on North Broad Street in front of the Masonic Temple. My father was largely responsible for making that sculpture happen when he worked for the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. I was eight or nine at the time of the dedication ceremony.

Annie B said...

James, I knew you lived in Philly and as soon as I saw Dan Miller's razor blade I figured you had studied with him. Miller was awesome -- I could have listened to him for hours. It's a fine city you've got there. Sorry I didn't get to meet you.