Perambulating the Bounds

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Couple of Fine Printmakers

Jerry Dale McFadden at TAG has a couple of really nice young printmakers on exhibit who are new to Nashville and to his gallery: Valerie Lueth and Paul Roden. They’re also engaged to get married soon and they have plans to open a press together.

Lueth does very detailed etchings that have qualities of cartooning and obsessive drawing, while Roden does politically oriented woodcuts. As a way of encouraging marital concord I suppose the proper stance is to praise each of them equally, or else you’re feeding some sort of movie melodrama. Oh well. Her stuff appealed to me more. She fills most of her pieces with detail, lots of biological, mechanical, and botanical entities that seem to have roots in geometric free association. You see it also in drawings, some of which are built on a base of crossword puzzle-like grids of dark and light squares. But I think the most striking piece in the show is one where she lightens the amount of information. Called Twins, it is a pair of figures partially rendered – faces from the nose up, one set of joined hands, another hand and arm holding a lock of hair, and the torsos ending in cocoon-like bundles rather than legs and feet. Their eyes have no pupils or irises, defined only by the shape of the eyes, but a sense of wariness and inscrutability comes from those shapes and the molding of the cheekbones.

Roden obviously has strong command over the woodblock medium, with the ability to shift between pieces that have that obvious woodblock quality of simple modeling to something closer to drawing. See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil is a really good image, of a charging elephant with especially heavy feet, ridden by three monkeys brandishing swords and holding a large menacing lance. Just to keep the political balance, it is paired with an image of a donkey in a wagon being pushed and pulled by the three blind mice. I think one of the tricks with work like this is how much you are in the mood for political satire and allegory at the time you are looking at it.

Jerry Dale puts a lot of images of his artists on his website. Here’s the page for the Lueth-Roden show, with pictures of the opening:

http://www.tagartgallery.com/

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