Reproduction Rites

New York-based Janis Provisor maintained a part-time studio outside Aspen for many years and for a time was considered a Colorado artist. Her six works done at Shark's Inc. constitute some of the finest pieces in this extremely fine show. In "About Face," a lithograph and woodcut incorporating metal leaf and chine colle, the composition has been divided into three panels. Each illustrates a different approach to abstraction: a dark calligraphic form against a light ground; a pattern featuring colors closer in value; and finally, a nearly homogeneous color relationship. Although "Home Journey," a 1992 monotype with metal leaf and chine colle, also features a multipart format, a calligraphic approach dominates three of the panels and spills over onto the fourth.

One of the great strengths of Shark's Inc. is its commitment to innovation. For Provisor's work, Shark needed to develop a method that would successfully adhere metal leaf to the print. He had to think even more creatively for Grooms; the mega-famous New York artist wanted to make three-dimensional prints that were essentially paper sculptures or wall reliefs made in multiples. Working Proof shows part of the process Shark devised for Grooms. Next to a cut-out and reassembled "Hot Dog Vendor"--a 3-D lithograph from 1994--are the two sheets required to make the single piece. One lithograph captures most of the background; the other places the foreground figures in a free-form, interlocking arrangement like a page of paper-dolls--and, like the dolls, these figures cry to be cut out. "Hot Dog Vendor," like "DeKooning Breaks Through" and "Little Italy," hangs on the exhibit wall in a shadow box, with elements of the foreground literally--rather than metaphorically--placed a few inches in front of the background.

Even more radical, though, are Grooms's prints that have been cut out and assembled into true sculptures, such as "Ruckus Taxi," a well-known 3-D lithograph from 1982, and the 1983 "London Bus." But Grooms isn't the only artist that Shark took into another dimension. Both Jeffrey Brosk's 1989 "Dakota Ridge" and Hollis Sigler's 1985 "Where Daughters Fear Becoming Their Mothers" are 3-D wall-hung reliefs in shadow boxes.

This show is so vast that it's impossible to point out all the worthwhile pieces--but some prints demand your attention. William T. Wiley's "Leviathan II," a hand-colored woodcut, is positively magisterial. The three prints by Italo Scanga--a lithograph and two monotypes--have a clarity often lacking in his better-known sculptures. And in his tour de force "Nine Views of Water," made in 1995, Hiroki Morinoue divided a woodcut into a grid of nine squares, each featuring a different op art pattern.

The excitement generated by Working Proof could result in the show traveling to other venues after it leaves CU next week; even the Denver Art Museum has reportedly expressed an interest. But up in Boulder, Shark's Inc. has already made its mark.

Working Proof: 20 Years of Prints From Shark's Inc., through August 20 in the CU Art Galleries, Sibell Wolle Fine Arts Building, University of Colorado-Boulder, 492-8300.

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