Monday, February 25, 2013

Thom O'Connor, Polymer Prints @ Bleu Acier

I almost didn't write this review because the subtlety in these polymer prints is so delicate that a lot of it gets lost between the prints, photos of them, and the computer screen. The visual-emotional precision of these small prints must be seen to be understood. The show runs another week, until March 3rd.

Thom O'Connor was one of the first Tamarind Printers. He taught at the University of Albany's Art Department for 38 years before retiring and is an internationally recognized master printmaker. I spoke with O'Connor during opening night. He said the nature prints were made from photographs taken in woods around his home that pending development will soon relegate to memory. These are not generic trees, land and spaces, but specific ones, intimate to the artist.
Thom O'Connor, "Morning Trees V"
The nature works flirt between realism and its deconstruction into formalism. The artist does this expertly with light, overlays of patterns, tone and line. The still lifes are minimalist works heavily on the formal side.

Erica Greenberg-Schneider and Thom O'Connor

Work by Thom O'Connor

Work by Thom O'Connor

Within this rigorous space there's an amazing depth of longing and other human feelings. They're palpable in a gestalt kind of way, but not in the form of simple correspondences. I watched viewers at close range interacting with the work and spoke with several. Like me, they found it breathtaking and grasped for words in expressing how and why.

Part of the charm of these works is their small size. In an age of mammoth prints, seeing small ones is a delight. A small prints whispers instead of shouting. Sometimes they listen. Viewing it is an intimate, one-on-one experience. As I told Rose-Marie Prinz at the opening, I feel like a piece of red silk being pulled through a keyhole when viewing a small print.

It came as no surprise that O'Connor mentored Bleu Acier owner Erica Greenberg-Schneider during graduate school. She says this interaction guided her through a tough period and affirmed her love  of stone lithography and was influential in her becoming a Master Printer.

In an interview elsewhere, O'Connor described polymer prints thusly: "Polymer plates have been a recent addition to the printmaker’s vocabulary. They have the character of photogravure, with its links to traditional etching, but use a new process of exposing positive images on film onto a polymer-coated plate that can be exposed to UV light. The plate is developed in a water bath, dried and hardened with heat. It is then printed, like an etching is printed."

Congratulations to Thom O'Connor and Erica Greenberg-Schneider for a very good show.

--- Luis

Bleu Acier Gallery
 Saturdays 10-5 PM; Thursdays/Fridays by appointment.
109 West Columbus Drive | Tampa, Florida | 33602
For more information or images please contact Erika Schneider: 813.215.0622 or  

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