Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Dislocations" exhibit at Conrad Wilde Gallery, Jan 8th-29th, 2011

Catherine Nash
Geometry Lesson

Encaustic painting in an antique drawer;
wax pencil and chalk on old school slate;
page from a vintage Japanese math book;
cross-section of a nautilus shell; antique
calipers; photo of Galaxy 51, oil stick.
17.5”h X 32” w

Conrad Wilde Gallery is pleased to present, Dislocations, an exhibition of found-object assemblage works that explore the metaphysics of place and memory. The show opens with an artist talk on Saturday, January 8th from 5-6 pm followed by a reception from 6-9 pm. The exhibit runs through Saturday, January 29th.
Gallery hours are: Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am until 5 pm.
The show features work exclusively by Tucson-based artists:

David Adix
Lois Epperson Gale

Rebecca Hamlin
Catherine Nash
Herb Stratford

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Vibrating Nature: The Art of John Babcock

John Babcock, Mandjet, Vessel for Ra
2010, 84"x 108" pigmented cotton, abaca and kozo fiber paper
If you happen to be in or near Santa Cruz, CA, a new paper exhibition called It's in the Pulp: The Art of Papermaking is up at the Museum of Art and History and will be showing until November 14th.

Artists whose work is included are John Babcock; Charles
Hilger; Jody Alexander; Gloria Alford; Susana Arias; Bonnie Britton; Madeline de Joly; Laddie John Dill; Alan Firestone; Evelyn Hirsch; Louise Nevelson; Bob Nugent; Inez Storer; Katherine Lipke; Karen Laubhan; Charles Strong; Cristie Thomas; Donna Thomas; Peter Thomas; William Tucker; Garner Tullis; David Whipple; Joseph Zirker.

The renaissance of handmade paper as an art form had some vital roots in Santa Cruz County: In 1972, Garner Tullis opened the International Institute of Experimental Printmaking inspiring experimentation and offering collaborative opportunities for artists to work in the medium of hand made paper bringing artists like "Charles Hilger, John Babcock and Joseph Zirker to the area. Working closely together as well as independently, these artists sought to push the medium to its limits, and firmly established paper as an artistic medium."1
Note: I inherited a Chuck Hilger vacuum casting system and have an article I wrote about early experiments with it in 1986 up on our site. Read it.
I got a wonderful studio visit from John earlier this spring too: an off-the-highway en-route-home visit as he returned from a pulp painting symposium held at the Southwest School of Art and Craft in San Antonio...a focused meeting of the leading pulp painters in the field: great, creative minds together!

Of the six works John Babcock has in the show, two are new this year. "Streamer" is a sculpture piece 40 inches in diameter, comprised of 28 sheets of paper 32 feet long, hanging in the stairway of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. "Mandjet, Vessel for Ra", inspired by Egyptian mythology, is a large work featured in the main gallery and is shown above.

John Babcock
Rhythm Drift
above, with detail
2008, 21" X 46"
pigmented cotton and abaca fiber paper

I've always adored John's work: when I got to visit him in his Santa Cruz County studio in 1997, I was so struck by the subtleties of surface and color in these huge pulp paintings. What you can't fully see in the photos is the matte vs. shiny areas produced by qualities of his fiber choices (i.e. cotton, abaca, kozo, gampi) that he employs so richly in his work. Babcock's use of color is both breathtaking and inspirational. My life focus and research in Japan has enamored me of color gradation and I find myself just magnetized to Babcock's work.

No wonder! When I just now looked for a statement by him, I was thrilled (but not surprised!) to discover that we resonate with similar inspiration: earth pigments, earth forms, Japanese aesthetics... Indeed in his bio, I found this:

"John’s art reflects a unique exploration of color relationships to evoke an emotional response. About his work he states, 'I gravitate to earth forms for inspiration, because perhaps, much of the colors that I use are earth-derived pigments. I have drawn upon images that come to me when I contemplate the pulsating or vibrating nature of waves, windblown sand, or Japanese rock gardens. I seek to capture the essence of these experiences and document them through the peculiarities of colored paper.' "2


1, accessed 9/4/10
2, accessed 9/4/10

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wax and the Artist Book II

Ania Gilmore, Lexington, MA & Warsaw, Poland
Library of Alexandria
Altered book, burned pages, wax, shellac. One of a kind. 5 x 7.

Wax and the Artist Book II, curated by Catherine Nash

A continuing study has evolved out of this personal curiosity... I wondered, "How are contemporary book artists combining beeswax/encaustics within/onto their artist books?" This second year of curating has pulled together completely new examples: the artist books of 17 featured artists from the U.S. and Europe exhibit a rich integration of encaustic both technically and conceptually.

Hanne Mattheison, Malling, Denmark
Book of Destiny I
Cover in white waxed linen cloth 5 x 3.5 in.

First presented in 2009, at the Third Annual, I presented this completely new compilation of bookworks in lecture format at the Fourth Annual Encaustic Painting Conference held June 11-13th, 2010 in Beverly, MA.

Tracy Longley-Cook, Dayton, OH Lateral Growth (from the series Stages of Growth) On right side, etched glass in front of Japanese paper.
On left, layered encaustic medium (about 1⁄4 in
ch thick) embedded with ocotillo thorns in a spiral pattern that emerge out of the wax base.
Back view shows graph image on acetate with a small sliced section of a chambered nautilus shell.

open 17”W x 11”H x 4”D closed 9”W x 11”H x 4”D

Pamela Paulsrud, Wilmette, IL
Drift Velocity
Altered book, encaustic, mixed media 9” x 6” x 1”

Raymond Papka, Versailles, KY USA
Box of Books Series - #6
Mixed Media Assemblage, 10”H x 7.25”W x 1.5”D

To help foster more connections, I have presented the artists in a print quality document available as a free downloadable pdf from the article section of my website. Just scroll down to the Artist Book section. Each artist is represented by a single page in alphabetical order. The information in this e-book is necessarily reduced from the original lecture, but I am hoping that you will let the artists’ own words and art inspire you to explore their work further by investigating their website links.

Jeanne Borofsky, Groton, MA USA
Pál Csaba, Budapest, Hungary
Ania Gilmore, Lexington, MA, USA & Warsaw, Poland
Tracy Longley-Cook, Dayton, OH, USA
Julie Shaw Lutts, Salem, MA, USA
Hanne Matthieson, Malling, Denmark
Laura Moriarty, Rosendale, NY, USA
Irmari Nacht, Englewood, NJ, USA
Haley Nagy, Chicago, IL, USA
Catherine Nash, Tucson, AZ USA
Melody Overstreet, Santa Cruz, CA, USA
Raymond Papka, Versailles, KY, USA
Pamela Paulsrud, Wilmette, IL, USA
Josie Rodriguez, San Diego, CA, USA
Laura Wait, Steamboat Springs, CO, USA
Beata Wehr, Tucson, AZ, USA & Warsaw, Poland
Heidi Zednik, Asheville, NC, USA born in Austria

Special thanks to all of the artists who answered my international call. Your work is exciting and inspiring!
Thanks also to Joanne Mattera for enabling this project.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

an ocean of green and wild things...

Catherine Nash
Reflected Co
nstellation, encaustic painting & oil stick, 20” X 10 1/4”(vertical diptych) above left
Before Dawn
encaustic painting & oil stick, 16 1/2” X 24” (four panels) above right
encaustic painting & oil stick, 12” h X 15”w above center

I'll be giving a lecture entitled Wax and the Artist Book at the 4th Annual Encaustic Painting Conference at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA as well as teaching a workshop post conference that integrates the book arts with encaustic. It is an exciting opportunity full of learning, sharing and third summer participating~ Nearby, I'm honored to be included in an exhibition entitled The Luminous Landscape at the Kensington-Stobart Gallery in Salem, MA, which opens on June 10th from 5-8pm. (three encaustic paintings above will be included) Thanks to Julie Shaw Lutts who organized this show: I find her assemblage artist books just incredible. The artists in this collective and exhibition are truly inspirational to me: check out the paintings and encaustic monoprints of Alexandre Masino who has posted links to all the artists in his blog, so explore!
He writes: "
The collective comprises of 18 artists working with encaustic and the rich subject of landscape painting. This coming show is curated by Sandy Heaphy, gallery director at the Kensington Stobart Gallery, Julie Shaw Lutts, Linda Cordner, Janet Bartlett Goodman, and Charyl Weissbach. Last year, the collective published a beautiful intimate catalogue on our 2009 show; you can order it online here."

Right after I get back, Rob will leave to teach at the historic Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg TN for a week of inspiring photography, such a rich and wonderful place of creative inspiration, nestled up to the beautiful Smoky Mountains.

Catherine Nash
Two Trees
Encaustic painting
6” X 6”

We will find our moments in nature this summer, give ourselves a chance to slow down and live life more quietly, more "Thoreauesque" I like to say. Spending time w/o TV, w/o internet deep in an ocean of green and wild things where the creative mind can dream and express itself. It is hard to disconnect and I resist it. From the other side though, I remember how to breathe...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

~...on the trail of the Wandering Book Artists

Peter and Donna Thomas, Ukulele Book Series: Book #9 The Letterpress Ukulele, 2002. 18 x 6 x 3. Letterpress printing on shaped cotton paper. 24 one-of-a-kind books, each with a real ukulele as a structural element of the binding.
Photo: Peter Thomas

When does a book become art?
When does a sculptur
e become an artist book?
Is that an artist book or is it just "bookish"?
For that matter, what is an artist book?
Some consider that an artwork that sequences a series of images/text or that embody references to the formal structure of a book can be described officially as:
artist books.
Or book objects.
Or sculptural books.

Artist books deal with time and space in a tactile manner through movement and momentum, progression and an unfolding in a unique way. They invite and may even require the viewer's participation. However one defines it, the book as art is being explored by contemporary artists around the globe. (Download my teaching handout for artist books here. Just scroll down 'til you find it on the articles page.)

This past week has been quite adventurous here as Californian book artists Peter and Donna Thomas drove Paloma, their beautifully self-built gypsy wagon, into Tucson and right into our driveway, barely fitting behind the gate. Peter and Donna are on a year long adventure to "travel around the country to sell our books, teach book arts workshops, talk about books and see the beauty in the USA." They have already been on the road for a month. You can read all about it and follow them as they journey on their blog Adventure of the Wandering Book Artists.
It was just great to host the two of them and share time together again...I first met Peter in '96 in Copenhagen at an exciting IAPMA conference and then, in 1997, after a Friends of Dard Hunter conference in Sonoma, spent a week with eight other artists in the Thomas' beach side home in Santa Cruz collaborating on an editioned artist book.

On Tuesday, Peter and Donna pulled their colorful gypsy wagon right up in front of the University of Arizona Museum of Art, under a huge, old juniper for a bit of shade. And, like vendors of old, they showed their editioned and one of a kind artist books from the back of their caravan. Their artist book performance/ukulele concert was a lively and fun introduction to an interesting panel discussion about artist books (given by panelists Heather Green, Nancy Solomon, and Phil Zimmerman ) in conjunction with the exhibition Sculptural Books: Memory and Desire. (The show will be up through June 13th...!)
Joined by ten artist participants the next day, Peter taught a workshop in Rob's and my studio entitled "Scrolling Books from tiny to LARGE!", demonstrating a contemporary binding that he and Donna developed from historical examples.

Great fun! We got to select bits of maps from an old atlas to cover the first miniature binding. Everyone seemed to find countries and places that held a personal meaning and evoked creative ideas for content. Since the participants were experienced bookbinders, free rein was given for the second book...and some wonderfully exciting results ensued.

About learning a craft or technique, Peter advised us, "The more you make something, the more your hands know how to do it, and the more your mind can focus on the creative content."

While the workshop participants were creating their second book, Donna and I started a collaborative edition of 50 encaustic prints entitled Sky Prevailing. Our ideas melded together quickly, using inspiration from the Tucson sky and horizon combined with the motif of Paloma, carved into their gypsy wagon. My recent re-interest in Japanese woodblock printing inspired a molten technique for creating a smooth gradation (Jap: bokashi) for the sky. A first stencil of the flying bird was used during the first printing, and a second of the Catalina Mountains that we can see from our little yard added the finishing touch. The Thomases are printing broadsides and editioned artworks when they can as they are traveling to create an eventual collection or book that documents their year as wandering book artists.

Peter and Donna, collaborating on life and art together for over 30 years, are adventurous and inspiring folk: in 2006, they walked the same route as John Muir from San Francisco to Yosemite in 30 days. It took them three years to build their exquisitely hand crafted gypsy wagon. They believe in fulfilling dreams! Donna and Peter offer us a vibrant example of what it means to live life fully, creatively and from the heart and spirit. We wish them a happy and safe adventure as they continue on, sharing with you their journey's motto:


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hiroki Morinoue, artist & master printer

It had been 12 years since I'd opened my box of Japanese woodblock tools....Last week, I dusted the lid and peered inside. An immediate longing for the smell of carved wood came over me. Hmmmm, perhaps it is time again.

In 1987, on my first of two research trips to Japan, I studied washi (traditional Japanese papermaking) and moku hanga (Japanese woodblock printing). My focus in the following years, gradually leaned towards papermaking/paper sculpture, but the moku hanga techniques I'd learned were translated into mixed media drawings and large sumi paintings. By '98 I was painting with encaustics and embedding my papers/paintings into these molten wax paintings while always continuing to make washi works. Lately I've been monoprinting with encaustic but that's pretty painterly.

I have never forgotten that my roots began in's just felt like it's been put to the back burner. Does one ever completely lose the thinking pattern of a printmaker once ingrained?

I was so excited when I heard that PaperWorks: The Sonoran Collective for Paper and Book Artists was hosting artist and master printer Hiroki Morinoue from the big island of Hawaii to teach 2 days of moku hanga in Tucson. Morinoue would then travel to teach 2 days of experimental abstract watercolor at the Tubac Center for the Arts just 60 minutes south. Hey! Time to shake myself up, and spark a new creative flow!! I whittled out time in my schedule to take all four days.

In his artist statement, Hiroki Morinoue writes: "In all of my works, there is a compelling sense of place---of the shoreline, rocks, lava flows and skies of the Big Island. I have long been a patient observer of nature, in particular, of its rhythms, cycles, and patterns. My creativity is two-fold, one to express myself and the other to express and study different media most suited for the message I want to convey to the viewer."

Morinoue's work speaks to me through color, his personal iconography and references to nature.

Watching Morinoue go through a step by step demo of the very special Japanese techniques of woodblock printing with water based inks (in his case, straight from the tube watercolor paint slightly diluted, and blended with rice paste on the block) was like taking a drink of water after a long drought.

There are a few steps missing here to keep it relatively short, but it gives an idea:
Morinoue printed 9 colors on this demo piece, some multiple times to deepen the color and/or add a gradation.

But when he started printing from varied blocks in a more intuitive manner creating woodblock printed monoprints, I was enthralled. Although Morinoue demoed carving and registration, our hands on focus was with trying to control the printing. We had access to a slew of pre-carved blocks. He explained that the light source is the paper, and to keep in mind that with each printing, we were subtracting light...

The idea of printing freely from numerous blocks, overlapping colors and shapes to create unique images was truly an ah-ha moment for me. I totally appreciated the freedom and spontaneity of this manner of printing.

I am sure that other printmakers might have a different feeling, but my training and subsequent approach to printmaking, not only in Japan but also during the 14 years prior as well, was very controlled and preplanned....and this was precisely why I turned towards mixing media that would allow for unrehearsed, more spontaneous creation so to speak. I wanted the work to lead me sometimes, to have a conversation with it. Does that make sense?

At the end of the two days, our trimmed prints were pinned into a grid, truly a visual delight. We were asked to trade cropped images and reconfigure them into a new composition. A wonderful exercise and energetic way to end the workshop. Morinoue was adept at critique and offered pertinent suggestions and thoughts. He told me, "You should really consider being a printmaker!" I guess one just can't fully lose the mindset. And yes, I am one. Remember that, Nash. I'm pulling the pot from the back to the front burner~

The watercolor course in Tubac was just superb as well: totally fun (especially sharing the adventure with my friend Mabel), and I certainly learned a great deal, particularly about Morinoue's approach to color. As the painting techniques paralleled my own practice with sumi and watercolor painting, it didn't have quite the impact that holding a baren again had, but nonetheless it was exciting, fresh and still felt new. Perhaps at some level, I had mourned just a bit letting moku hanga go (after longing to go to Japan since I had been seven!...I had been having major issues with Tucson's total lack of humidity and Hiroki gave me some pertinent suggestions on what to do.) I had known it would reappear in my creative work, I just didn't know when.

I have, of late, been integrating handmade paper and cast paper with encaustic...oh, but now I can see doing mokuhanga on my own papers, and dipping them or enhancing them with encaustic monoprinting...for stand alone works or incorporated into artist books. Or carving the wood on which I paint encaustic...hmmmmmmmm.

Ah, that creative flow! So excited to have solid stretches of time before me as we head into the summer.

Throughout the workshops, his wife, artist Setsuko Morinoue was a hard working assistant and we appreciated her help too.
Thank you Hiroki and Setsuko Morinoue!