Millennium Arts Salon is a local group of predominantly African
American art collectors. While focused primarily on the citys
black artists, they are also one of the few groups that strive
to bridge the divide that separates our little art community into
racial and ethnic segments. For that, for encouraging broader
exposure of artists to those who love and may purchase their work,
and for organizing projects such as In Unison currently at the
Kreeger Museum, they are to be thanked.
In Unison is an exhibition that grew
out of a months-long project
undertaken by the Millennium Arts Salon to directly foster the
creation of new artwork. Twenty artists were invited by Sam Gilliam,
one of DCs few truly internationally-known artists, to make
new monoprints for the project. The participants include a broad
range of local artists, some well-known for printmaking, such
as Michael Platt and Carol Bean, Renee Stout, Claudia Aziza Gibson-Hunter,
Susan Goldman and Helen Frederick, and others better known for
painting or other media, such as Sondra Arkin, Martha Jackson-Jarvis
and Tom Green.
Director of Printmaking at George Mason University in Fairfax,
made the world-class printmaking studio at Mason available to
the artists, along with the invaluable assistance of herself and
her students. Five portfolios, each of 20 unique prints, were
created. For the Kreeger show, a committee composed of Gilliam,
Judy Greenberg, Director of the Museum, gallery owner Marsha Mateyka
and art critic and historian Claudia Rousseau, chose one print
from each of the artists.
There are some pretty terrific prints here and a wide variety
of techniques, feeling and subject matter. For the print lover
and maker, the show offers endless invitations for those nose-to-the-glass
inspections where we try to figure out how the effects were achieved.
Some of the pieces that stand out for me are Claudia Gibson-Hunters
color-saturated heat-infused tower, Renee Stouts Lovers
Hearts, Sondra Arkins ethereal circles and Yuriko
Yamaguchis delicate web.
constraints imposed from the start, such as that each print would
be the same size, imposea certain feeling of uniformity that,
to my mind, can suppress a bit of the exuberance and spontaneity
that the monoprint medium can have. Contrary to some comment,
the ground rules for this project did not include use of Masons
digital lab; monoprint (each one a unique, one -of-a-kind piece
of art) and press were the essence of the project and the medium
does allow for an astonishing array of effects.