Sydney Yeager + Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
June 23, 2018

Over 40 people gathered in the gallery to hear Sightlines founder Jeanne Claire van Ryzin interview Sydney Yeager about her show LIMINAL and the evolution of the artist's work throughout her career. After the discussion, participants had fun finding their color palette.

Thanks to Emerson Granillo for helping with audio setup and sound editing.

Sydney Yeager was also recently featured in Sightlines in an article by Erin Keever. Click here to read it:
Sydney Yeager: A Willingness to Take What is Immediately Given.





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MESSORS / Jennifer Bell & Tonio Creanza
July 2017

This month on Instagram we are following GSC artist Jennifer Bell and her husband Tonio Creanza in the Puglia region of southern Italy, where they lead workshops each summer to promote the region's cultural heritage. MESSORS 2017 hands-on workshops engage participants with Art Restoration and Conservation – Frescoes & Paintings, the Fornello Cave Project, and the summer ends with a Culinary and Shepherding Retreat.

Creanza, the founder of Messors, the organization that runs these projects, grew up in Puglia where his family are 6th generation olive growers.  Creanza has been running fresco and art restoration workshops and sustainable preservation projects of historical sites for over 20 years. Of note was the decorative restoration of "Palazzo Margherita"- Francis Ford Coppola's boutique hotel in Bernalda, Italy

Born and raised in Canada, Bell first attended the workshops in 2004. Looking to reconnect to her Italian family heritage, Jennifer set up her studio in Altamura and spent the following five years in Puglia, painting and learning Italian. In 2010 Jennifer began working with Messors full-time to develop workshop programming and ideas along with Tonio. 

Shepherds in the Cave, a documentary directed and produced by Anthony Grieco with support from Canada Council for the Arts, chronicles the Messors team of art restorers, archaeologists and volunteers as they begin work on the restoration of religious frescoes inside a network of ancient caves. The film was screened at the Royal Anthropological Institute – RAI Film Festival, in Bristol, UK, in March, 2017.

Click to view the trailer of Shepherds in the Cave.

Find more details about the on location workshops online:



Top images: Art Restoration and Conservation
On the ravine and caves of Gravina, celebrating the arrival of new participants for July session of Art Restoration and Conservation.


Bottom images: Fornello Cave Project
Last week at Fornello workshop. In preparation of creating an arch for one of the caves, we unearthed foundations of a 3rd/4th BC century home. And creating drainage path so we can eventually waterproof the roof of the church in order to help conserve Byzantine frescoes led to further fascinating discoveries, which means we will stop to rethink and plan before moving ahead. The beauty and the intricate planning of landscape conservation.









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The search for truth and beauty:
elizabeth akamatsu

Excerpt from Charm Magazine

Story by Stephanie Stevens, Photos by Jackie Ray
March 2017


In a ring of weeping cypress in her yard is a roughly 5-by-8-foot sculpture, "Cloud Burst," that also functions as a bench. "In the summer when the branches are full of leaves, you can't even see it until you go inside the ring," Akamatsu said. "It's like this little hidden jewel."

"Cloud Burst" is part of a series of large sculptures called "Stardust." The series was inspired by a desert mineral from Chihuahua, Mexico, called a desert rose.

Akamatsu had an orange sculpture, "Starfire," on Henderson Avenue in Dallas and a bright red one, "Stardust," in The Woodlands on the Waterway trail. Another sculpture in the series, titled "Starry Night," sits in her yard; this one is black with sparkles scattered on it.

"You can't just make on," she said. "It keeps getting better and better. You can see the progressive growth of the idea. Each one fits a bit better, more structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing."

Her husband, Piero Fenci, said one of the most interesting things about her work is that she started off as a jeweler. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in metal and jewelry from Southern Illinois University.

"She started making small jewel-like objects," Fenci said. "Then her work got bigger and bigger and bigger. The beauty of it, I think, is that her work is now huge, but the surfaces are still jewel-like. She will spend months on the surface of these big sculptures. It makes them special. I think it makes her work unique, different from other people's work."


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Flooding Field, Fountain Burst by Karen Kunc

"Karen Kunc + Monika Meler: PrintAustin 2017"

At Gallery Shoal Creek, these artists' prints interact well with one another – contrasting peace in nature and urban agitation

Reviewed by Sam Anderson-Ramos
The Austin Chronicle
February 10, 2017

Karen Kunc's Flooding Field, Fountain Burst (pictured) isn't an obvious illustration of anything. The undulating lines making the familiar arcs and points of stylized water are the only portion of the image that offer something concrete. This ambiguity turns out to be a strength. The color is rich with bright oranges and a variety of blues that culminate in organic, ethereal forms. A dark jewel, like a hive or an alien gem, takes up the right side of the image. It's scary, like something powerful and teeming with magic. It feeds the brightness in the rest of the image, its darkness seeping like tentacles from the hive and between the brilliant orange curves that act like a landscape confining the placid water at the image's left. The print is lush, reciting a discrete story that is just out of reach.

Kunc's Zig Zag and Weathered Lattice are monoprints and wield the same abstraction that Flooding Field does. The forms in Zig Zag are sharp, geometric, with crisscrossing lines and sharp points. The background features a pattern like a wood surface, concentric rings growing elegantly from their circular hearts. The wood surface is repeated in Weathered Lattice, though Weathered Lattice takes the reference further than Zig Zag. It is populated with simple treelike shapes, their arms reaching out and touching amid circular forms that float like cells or amoebas. Kunc applies real skill with line, color, and composition, so that the complicated collections of shapes, rather than calamitous, feel easy and readily placed, natural.

Kunc's prints interact well with the work of Monika Meler, her partner in the show. Meler's three tower prints, for example, refer to man-made architecture, but they are not overtly industrial or urban. The predominant color is a soft blue; the "towers" themselves are not the vertical monoliths we might expect. Instead, they are squat, like shuttlecocks. The show's text makes reference to the Chicago skyline. Having lived in Chicago, I can't say the softness of the tower pieces is too reminiscent of that city's force. That said, it would be foolish to impose my experience of Chicago onto Meler's. Anyway, upon reflection, I can recall rides on the El train into the Loop, contemplating the distant skyline, like a city on a cloud. Meler's work takes me there, and that is a gift.

Another piece, Cities and Structure, is more reflective of that city's angular hodgepodge. Small, straightedged forms repeat over the entire surface, creating a netting that is reminiscent of the thousands of windows one finds glowing on the faces of tall buildings, until the structure bursts in multiple planes, and in all directions, off the edge of the print's surface. It's the busiest moment in a busy city, a corner where you realize you're lost, harried, while all around is constant movement and endless buildings that are different but the same, just like the people. Neither Kunc's nor Meler's images have people in them, by the way. They're not needed. The references to nature in Kunc's work imply the peace and abundance of the world beyond our reach, while Meler's urban myths highlight the agitation and scale of the human endeavor, raised to the limits of our imaginations, and of our control. Our own species finds itself in the middle somewhere, too chaotic and clumsy to smoothly commune with nature; too vulnerable and small to manage our machines. In the end, we're reminded that something has to give, and that something could be ourselves.


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La Nuit by Sydney Yeager

"Engaged in Conversation"

The pairing of works by Katie Maratta and Sydney Yeager offer visual pleasures that might have otherwise gone unseen

By Sam Anderson-Ramos
The Austin Chronicle
August 26, 2016

I don't want to be too prescriptive about what is happening in Sydney Yeager's Untitled IV. It could be anything, and I suppose that's part of the point. The image is dark, a rectangle of streaks in black, red, and white variations. The surface seems scratched up, marred, like a Francis Bacon without the macabre popes or meat. Untitled IV eschews anything figural, unless I count my own reflection in the glass frame. What I see is a waterlogged cityscape, like an Impressionist painting of Broadway in Manhattan, light and dark commingled into an abstraction of skyscrapers, brightened signage, and traffic, transmitted through a haze of rainfall running down a window pane or car windshield, or taken in from a balcony through the kind of heavy downpour we've had in Austin the last couple of weeks. I prefer the cityscape interpretation to the Bacon one, only because I enjoy the optimism of Yeager's images, and I find cities optimistic, bustling with promise, even at their grittiest and most unforgiving. That optimism is communicated by Yeager's textures, a theme that runs through all of the work in "In Other Words," her half of "Engaged in Conversation." Even a piece like Untitled II, a slate and gold surface married with whites and grays like wisps of smoke, contains exuberance, though nothing overt. It's an inner confidence – a satisfying balance and energy that may best be termed "charisma."

The other half of "Engaged in Conversation" is Katie Maratta's "The Next Small Thing." Each piece is a minutely detailed, carefully composed skyline on a long, thin panel similar to a yardstick. The images are largely West Texas landscapes, though there is at least one piece that includes the Austin skyline. While Maratta's skies are finely rendered and dramatic, I'm mostly interested in her depictions of architecture, especially that mundane architecture that has come, for good and for bad, to define so many of my road trips. Texas Night Horizon, for example, is mostly darkness with unidentifiable pinpoints of light in the distance. It should be a familiar sight for anyone who's taken a long drive in Texas (or really anywhere in the middle of the country). There is darkness and then, all the way to the right of the panel, a galaxy of lampposts and neon signs, most prominent being the immense Dairy Queen logo. It is odd how something so average and ubiquitous as a chain restaurant sign can come to seem almost glorious – like an oasis – in the context of a neverending highway. Stormy Whataburger is the same. It is a gathering of familiar businesses along a single main road in the middle of nowhere. Like the Dairy Queen sign, the Whataburger W rises above the horizon, a lighthouse or big waving hand saying, "Welcome home." It's a little hilarious, actually, but also sober, an effect rendered by the muted tones and by Maratta's deft attention to the minutiae of her subjects. They could be photographs, but really, they're far more interesting than that, more imperfect and unpredictable, the way things look in real life.

I don't think I would have seen cityscapes in Yeager's work without also having seen Maratta's. Certainly, other connections between the two halves of "Engaged in Conversation" can be made in addition to that one: The attention to surface comes to mind, as well as the homage paid to emptiness. But any number of lines may be drawn between works so formally divergent. This is part of the pleasure of looking: to locate in the apparent what may otherwise go unfound. – Sam Anderson-Ramos


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La Nuit by Sydney Yeager

"Marc Burckhardt's Notes to Self"

Painting Petrarch's Triumphs

The Virginia Quarterly Review
Summer 2016

Recently, painter Marc Burckhardt has been in a deep "visual conversation" with literature—specifically, with Petrarch's Triumphs, a sequence of poems from the Italian Renaissance in which Love, Chastity, Death, Fame, Time, and Eternity each overcomes the other. Burckhardt first came across Triumphs nearly a year ago, while working on a series based on Dante's Inferno. As he often does with literary works, he looked into their visual history, and in doing so found "a deep well of imagery—stuff I recognized through a kind of peripheral appreciation." Since then, working between studios in Austin, Texas, and Bremen, Germany, he's has been studying, sketching, crumpling sketches, starting over, and taking notes for a series of allegorical paintings that reflect his personal connection to Petrarch's themes, to be included in an October show at Gallery Shoal Creek, in Austin, Texas.

Read more. . .



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KOICHI YAMAMOTO / Travels + Award


Master printmaker Koichi Yamamoto launched 2016 in Hawaii. He attended the opening of a group exhibition, Statements of Nature, a survey of work by eight highly regarded printmakers organized by the Maui Art and Cultural Center. While there, he participated in the Visiting Artist Program at the Hui No'eau Visual Art Center, conducting a workshop on Transparent Monotypes.

He returned just in time to arrive in Austin to take part in PrintAustin 2016. The Sunday afternoon event presented four accomplished, nationally recognized printmakers in this special educational component of PrintAustin. He drew a crowd as he shared his insight into his complex work. His current series implements chine-collé to merge detail with spontaneity as multi-plate, symmetrical engravings are combined with large-scale, expressive monotypes.

While traveling, Koichi received exciting news from the Leonardo Sciascia Prize Amateur d'Estampes, the prestigious exhibition organized in Milan, Italy. His print, Shimobukure, accepted in the 8th edition of the juried exhibition—which has traveled throughout Europe for two years and returns to Milan for its final showing—was awarded special recognition. The awards ceremony will be held in February, and Koichi's print will be donated to the permanent collection of the Civica Raccolta di Stampe Achille Bertarelli in Milan. Bravo, Koichi!



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Artists in the News

photoKAREN KUNC / Oscillation Shift

Prix de Print Winner
Art in Print July/August, 2015

Oscillation Shift renews itself each time I look at it. The blue is compelling but not overly amiable—it can turn edgy in an instant. The circles reestablish new sets of relationships while you’re looking at them and never come close to settling into a pattern. Kunc understands the territory that is the surface of a print. She can take a sheet of paper and make it live.
-David Storey

Click here to read full article.


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5 DECADES / What a Celebration It Was!
September 2015

Artists, collectors, friends and others gathered on September 18 and 19 to celebrate Gallery Shoal Creek's 50th anniversary with an exhibition and events that commemorate the gallery's history and the people who made it; along the way, we found time to look to the future and the gallery's continued success

Guests and artists arrive to celebrate 5 decades featuring 50 works by 20 artists. Time to cut the cakes!Chocolate or carrot?  perhaps I will try both.

excepts from Austin's Gallery Shoal Creek celebrates its 50th anniversary
By Jeanne Claire van Ryzin, Austin American-Statesman / 9.17.15

This weekend, Gallery Shoal Creek celebrates its 50th anniversary, a remarkable milestone for any small business but particularly so for an art gallery in a city not known as an art world destination.

Current owner Judith Taylor took the helm in 1990 and began to significantly shift the gallery's purview, seeking out artists from across the country and other countries who work in more contemporary and non-traditional styles.

Taylor also made a bold move just a couple of years ago when she picked up the entire operation and landed in the Flatbed Building in East Austin, one of the first warehouses converted to an arts hub on the now-trendy eastside of town.

With its sleek concrete floors and high ceilings, Gallery Shoal Creek blends easily into the contemporary milieu, home to several indie galleries and artists' studios, chief among them the notable fine art printmakers Flatbed Press.

To celebrate Gallery Shoal Creek's 50th, Taylor has selected 50 works of art by the gallery's current roster of artists, which includes many important Austin creatives such as Shawn Camp, Karen Hawkins, Katie Maratta, Marianne McGrath and Sydney Yeager.


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artKaren Hawkins finds art between a book's pages

By Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Austin American-Statesman
Saturday, May 24, 2014

As a child growing up in the University Hills neighborhood, Karen Hawkins eagerly awaited the day when the bookmobile arrived.

The thrill of perusing books in the small confines of the transitory library left an indelible impression.

"I just loved to read. And books took me everywhere," Hawkins says. "And the bookmobile always felt like it was made for me — it was just my size."

Now, with a solo presentation of her sculptural work made from vintage and discarded volumes at Gallery Shoal Creek, Hawkins pays homage to the book.

"I see (my work) as reverence to this object that is gradually disappearing," she says. (And she admits to dreaming of finding a 1960s bookmobile, refurbishing it to be a roving art gallery of her book-related art.)

Most arresting in the current exhibition is "Totem Installation," a forest of 14 pole-like sculptures that hang from the ceiling. Ranging in length from 8 to 10 feet, each is a string of delicate geometric objects crafted from books whose pages have been exquisitely folded and reformed. Hawkins removes a book's cover, fanning the pages inside out to form an orb before carefully plaiting each page.

One hanging totem is made from old volumes of music scores. A couple are crafted out of University of Texas yearbooks from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Wander through "Totem Installation" and the musty, nostalgia-laden aroma of old books surrounds you while shadows cast by the geometric forms make for a delightful illusory effect.

"I was always fascinated by the book as an object, too, not just as something to read," says Hawkins on a recent walk through the gallery. "I like the way books feel, I like the way they smell."

Elsewhere in the gallery hangs a rectangular grid made of, as Hawkins calls them, book bricks: Hunks of book spines, covers removed to reveal the details of a book's binding, the stitched-together pages and the layer of leather or paper used underneath a hardcover book's spine.

Hawkins dips the bricks in beeswax before assembling them in wooden frames, the neatly lined arrangement more than subtly suggesting the lines of text on a page. So do two rectilinear collages of neat strips of book covers: One is made of varying shades of red, the other of blue; each is shot through with lines of yellow like highlighted text.

Hawkins haunts estate sales, used bookstores and flea markets to gather books, primarily selecting volumes for their visual appeal and physical properties.

Of course, then there was that 1917 encyclopedia set she found at an estate sale.

Each volume of it bulged with a lifetime of paper ephemera that had been neatly stashed between the pages. Hawkins discovered receipts from livestock sales, carbon copies of typed letters, pages from financial ledgers, snippets from magazines and myriad other documents.

She took that paper ephemera and neatly fringed it, creating a fluttering collage, again arranged in page-like form. She titled the piece "A Personal Narrative."

"They had to be important to somebody," Hawkins says of the encyclopedia inserts. "They form somebody's personal narrative."

Hawkins, who turns 50 this year, makes something of her debut with her show at Gallery Shoal Creek. It's her first foray into exhibiting with a professional gallery.

"I did things a bit backwards," she says with a smile.

Hawkins went to college, completing a bachelor of fine arts at the University of Texas a few years ago, after raising five children with her husband, pharmaceutical industry entrepreneur Rick Hawkins.

Currently a board member of nonprofit arts organization Women & Their Work, Hawkins credits artist-professors Margo Sawyer and Beili Liu — who both create cerebral installations of delicate beauty — with having an enormous influence on her own work.

And she credits her grandmother, too, with inspiring and fostering the desire to make and create.

An avid quilter, her grandmother, Hawkins explains, would take the extra squares of fabric and, after stacking them together, roll them up tidily.

"She called them 'jellyrolls' and I remember loving the patterns of the colorful layers of fabric all neatly stacked up," Hawkins says.

So she made similar "jellyrolls" of book pages — some 1,500 to be exact, each no more than a couple of inches long and a tight roll, the colors of page ends forming variegated swirls. All are arranged in an arbitrary fashion on the gallery wall.

"There's a meditative aspect to the repetition of making that I love," Hawkins says. "It's about the process for me — the step-by-step action done again and again. And I'm proud of the things women have always made — we should be."


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S.C. Gwynne and Katie Maratta Found the Wellspring for Their Art on the Edge of a Vast Land Ocean

Aether Magazine, Spring 2013

Writer and journalist S.C. "Sam" Gwynne grew up in Connecticut; his wife, artist Katie Maratta, grew up in West Virginia. Those places must seem somewhat foreign to them now, so tied to Texas they've become. The couple first fell in love with the West when they moved to Truth or Consequences, NM so that Sam could work on an investigative book he was writing at the time about the corrupt bank BCCI with his then-writing partner, Jonathan Beaty. If you've ever been to Truth or Consequences, you know that it is a little, depressed town, but that didn't matter to Gwynne or Maratta. It was the vastness and beauty of the place that hooked them. They both live in Austin now, and arrived here in an almost random way.

Now that they are here, they have become two of the most respected interpreters of the West working today. Gwynne, who writes for Texas Monthly, is the bestselling author of Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. Gwynne managed to take a story–the abduction of Cynthia Ann Parker in the 1800s and her eventual, tragic return to white society– that had been written about many times before and make it seem fresh, partly because he expands the story of Parker's kidnapping into the broader history of the entire Comanche tribe.

Maratta's "horizonscapes," as she calls them, are intimate, almost eerie recreations of epically flat West Texas land. Maratta uses graphite pencils to draw long landscapes across an elongated panel that is usually only one inch high: the effect is to cause the viewer to scrunch their eyes up as they approach her art to detect the small, telling details (a run-down taxidermy store, a tiny Dairy Queen sign) anyone from West Texas would immediately recognize. Because her pieces are up to 48 inches in length, though, the feeling of Maratta's work isn't at all small. It's a canny and poetic recreation of the feeling this East Coast native gets when she hangs out in West Texas.

I talked to Gwynne and Maratta over dinner recently about why they first came to Texas, and why they've stayed.

KM: We were living in New York and Sam was a business editor at TIME magazine. You started on Tuesdays, working eight hours and then by the end of the week, you were spending the night in New York City to close the magazine by Saturday. It was a brutal schedule. We had just had a little baby and were living in Larchmont and my parents said, 'You would be getting more help if you had just checked into a home for unwed mothers.' Sam was just not around. When he got home, he was exhausted.

SG: It was the actual 80-hour work week. K M : There were many, many divorces at that magazine. SG: Alcoholism and divorces, usually both.

KM: The good thing back then was that TIME had a bunch of bureaus and you could walk in and say, 'The New York thing isn't working for us' and in Sam's case, they said, 'We have Houston' and we said, 'Okay, we'll take Houston.' And then all of Sam's friends said, 'If you're going to live in Texas, you need to live in Austin.'

SG: The only issue TIME had was, 'How quickly can you get to a plane to cover a story?' They said yes, so we showed up here, sight unseen. We drive in through Palestine and then we come down and we drive in on I-35, driving south, and we said, 'Oh God, what have we done? It's just like south L.A. or Detroit.'

KM: That wasn't the way we should have come into town. We had lived in Truth or Consequences, NM for about six months while Sam was working on a book about BCCI, the "outlaw bank." It was a little sabbatical out there. It was so fun, we just thought, 'Anything that gets us closer to there would be a good thing.'

SG: [My writing partner at the time] Jonathan and I had an office on Main Street where we wrote our book.

KM: At one point, I took the dog for a walk and I get back to the house; the yard is full of police cars. I'm like, 'What is going on?' And they said they couldn't find Sam or Jonathan. TIME magazine couldn't find them.

SG: This was a story about a bank that killed people.

KM: There was a certain nefarious side to this and they'd gone to their office downtown and there was hot coffee in cups, cigarettes burning in ashtrays, doors unlocked, computers on. But no Sam and no Jonathan.

SG: And what happened was, we'd been working closely with Robert Morgenthau, the New York district attorney, on this story and Morgenthau pulled the chain. Morgenthau is a big deal. We got a big advance on this book and Jonathan bought a boat with it and he shows up at the office with this brand new Wellcraft and he's dying to show it off and we just got in the car to go see the boat.

Sam started working on The Empire of the Summer Moon in 2005. They describe their mutual love and fascination with West Texas as a kind of aesthetic accident.

KM: We ended up covering a lot of the same ground.

SG: I'm writing about West Texas and she's making art about it. It was not planned. Didn't even occur to me until a few years ago.

KM: It's not just Texas, it's mythic Texas. It's everybody's iconic Texas.

SG: I'm sure Nacogdoches is somebody's idea of iconic, but it doesn't seem that way to us. For us Yankees, it's West Texas.

KM: It still gets to me, the landscape and the sky.

SG: Katie grew up in a vertical land and I grew up near the ocean. It's the opposite of where she grew up and it reminds me of the ocean. Joe Ely said that in Lubbock, it's so flat that you can see 20 miles in any direction and if you stand on a tuna fish can, you can see 50.

KM: I realized I'd never really seen the horizon until I got to Texas. It doesn't exist on the East Coast unless you go to the ocean. The ocean is stunning, it's pretty powerful, but it's better when it's land.

K M : When Sam and I go out to West Texas, Sam's my chauffeur but I go out by myself too and we head out on these roads and just head out in a direction. It's great to have GPS and AAA to tow you out of ditches. I make photographs and sketches. I can't tell you how many people have come up to me and said [about her finished artwork], 'That's my grandmother's house.'

I'm pretty sure it's not but there's a certain style, early ranch style, boarded house with a porch, a couple of trees. It is all over West Texas. Sometimes it has its own water tank, sometimes there are cows in the front yard. These places are so eternal. They're very poetic. They're extremely powerful little moments on the edge of this nothing. It's just miles and miles of nothing and you see this little porch light and you see this little house with the wash in the side yard. It's really evocative.

SG: But what you get, what you end up with, in the artwork is an idealized landscape. Elements exist–that fence line exists, that field may exist sort of, but Katie modifies things, too. I watched her do a tumbleweed from scratch, from nothing. What happens is you get a recombination of things. That silo was not next to that fence line, which was not next to that cow. So you get an idealized landscape. It is idealized because people in Texas who grew up there see it that way.

KM: And I'm not doing portraits. I came out of cartooning out of college and I was doing a lot of cartooning professionally and after the newspapers started to tank and I got out of cartooning, I thought, 'What am I going to do?' I knew I was going to do art, but what kind of art? I did some sculpting and painting classes and it's so funny to come all the way back around to a black-and-white horizontal narrative, which is basically what cartoon is only it's a little story line with punch lines.

I always had to put the punch line at the end in a cartoon but it's basically the same format. That's what I like about these pieces. I'm not restricted to a certain 1-2-3; I can have nice, long spaces where nothing is happening. I find all those broken-down ranch houses to be enormously appealing.

Claiborne Smith is the Features Editor at Kirkus Reviews and the former literary director of the Texas Book Festival. aether


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KOZO PAPER / Handmade and favored by artists

Known for her abstracted woodcut prints, Karen Kunc has a preference for Japanese kozo papers made from long-fibered mulberry bark. The lush exuberance of her saturated colors bleeding off the deckled-edges of these papers are just one of the traits that distinguish her work.

A recent article in the New York Times Magazine, Can a Papermaker Help to Save Civilization, by Mark Levine, gives insight into the process of making the type papers that Kunc and others favor. The article explores the story of Timothy Barrett and his passion for preserving the ancient processes. Barrett has spent a lifetime unlocking the mysteries of paper. The article is a great read and a must for anyone who enjoys works on paper, rare books, or the conservation of historic documents.

Can a Papermaker Help to Save Civilization? [ excerpt from New York Times Magazine, Feb 19, 2012]

Each November, a papermaker named Timothy Barrett gathers a group of friends and students on the grounds of the University of Iowa Research Park, a onetime tuberculosis sanitarium in Coralville, Iowa, for what he bills as a harvest event. Armed with hook-shaped knives, Barrett and his party hack away at a grove of bare, shrublike trees called kozo, a Japanese relative of the common mulberry. At his nearby studio, which is housed in the former sanitarium's laundry facility, the bundles of cut kozo are steamed in a steel caldron to loosen the bark. After the bark is stripped from the kozo, it is hung on racks, where it shrivels to a crisp over a matter of days. Eventually the bark is rehydrated and sliced apart from its middle, "green" layer, and that layer, in turn, is sheared from the prized inner layer. It takes about a hundred pounds of harvested kozo trees to yield eight pounds of this "white bark," from which Barrett will ultimately make a few hundred sheets of what connoisseurs consider to be some of the world's most perfect paper.



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