Tag Archives: Photogravure

From The Dirt to The Skies: Pat Bacon

“From The Dirt to The Skies” is on view at Main Street Arts through Oct. 4, 2019

“From The Dirt to The Skies” is on view at Main Street Arts through Oct. 4, 2019

From the Dirt to the Skies is a group exhibition featuring new works in painting, drawing, and printmaking from four of Main Street Arts’ gallery artists — Pat Bacon, Chad Grohman, Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer, and Lanna Pejovic. The artwork is inspired by fog-laden lakes, wooded paths, gardens, and objects plucked from nature. 

In the final interview of the series, executive director and curator Bradley Butler talks with Pat Bacon. If you haven’t had a chance to read the other interviews with artists Meredith, Chad, and Lanna, be sure to check them out and see the way their inspirations, motivations, and color palettes overlap with one another.


From The Dirt to The Skies: 
Pat Bacon

PatBacon

Q: Can you talk about the work that is included in the show and what inspired it?

A: I like reflections, looking in through water, what’s on the surface of water, what’s below it. The same with mud. I ended up printing a lot of diptychs for this show and while the imagery isn’t obvious, I feel like it’s more readable as a diptych. Putting two images together makes the print a little more solid. As singular images I thought they were a little too nebulous, a little too “floaty”. Showing them as diptychs gives the imagery a little more grounding and makes them
more readable. I’d like the work to transcend what it obviously is but I don’t want to make it so mysterious or so unrecognizable. It has to have some recognition, there has to be some point of reference. The singular pieces are from walks in the woods and my response to what I saw.

"Reflection" by Pat Bacon

“Reflection” by Pat Bacon

Q: Where did the diptych idea come from?

A: I felt the singular images were incomplete. If I’m looking at 50 images, two will seem to relate to me and inform each other and I’m hoping it does for someone else also. Why did I pick “those two” that seem to inform each other? You always have design considerations because you want it to look like two singular images but read as one statement but it’s an intuitive process. “The Garden” is a triptych, it just needed that balance. It had more of a cathedral effect with the corn on either side of the greenhouse.

"Garden" by Pat Bacon

“Garden” by Pat Bacon

Q: How does the work in this show differ from previous work? They definitely seem like related themes and images from past work but they are also different and new.

A: I have a new press and it’s bigger, I think that has something to do with it. To have more plate surface to work with building textures helps me. I was very happy with the burn piles and trees that I was working with last year and I felt that they worked well as singular,
standalone images or statements. These just work better as diptychs.

"Fire II" by Pat Bacon

“Fire II” by Pat Bacon

Q: What is on your mind while you’re working?

A: I collect all of my images, mostly on my iPhone and sometimes on my camera. As I’m looking through them, I sort out what I’m intrigued with most and then I’m looking at 100 images and they just seem to really speak to me. From there, it’s a process of deciding which ones I want to pull together. Sometimes I know that there are things going on in the world or in my life that is affecting those choices on a certain level, a more intuitive level. If people relate to my work, they relate to it on their own level with what’s going on in their own life. I don’t want to tell them exactly how to read it.

"Bridge" by Pat Bacon

“Bridge” by Pat Bacon

Q: Can you talk about a specific piece that is included in the show?

A: The one piece that evolved over the course of four years, is “Bridge”. I had done it originally using contact prints in the darkroom and I liked it that way. I also used this image in a triptych, and in a collage but I was never satisfied with the outcome. Then,
when I got my larger press I was able to do it as a double plate and I thought to myself, “Yes, this is how I always wanted to do it”. Through the manipulation of the plate I was able to draw out certain textures and tones that I wanted to come forward. 

For me, this piece has to do with transitions. Between one thought and another, between parts of your life, aging. I’m looking down from the bridge and you can see my reflection in the water and the textures you see are animal prints in the mud. The bridge is on the western edge of Lake Ontario, almost to Lake Erie. I stopped
at a small pull off just to look at the lake and I noticed there was a bridge on the road and I walked down the bridge and I realize there was this amazing pattern of tracks in the mud and I had to photograph it. The image just seemed so important to me.

"Mud Tree" by Pat Bacon

“Mud Tree” by Pat Bacon

Q: You work largely in black and white but there is always a tone, or a cast of warm or cool to your blacks. Can you talk about your color mixing? 

A: “Garden” has yellow ochre and heavy Portland black. With “Reflection”, I used Portland black and Cerulean blue. What’s nice about photogravure is that you establish your palette and then you open a can of black, open the ocre, the blue — depending if you’re going to go warm or cool—black just has such a nice voice between warm and cool as you respond to the image. A lot of these images I have done very warm or done very cool until I really hit on the black that I like. That’s why a lot of them are monoprints instead of editions. I respond to the plate differently every time I ink it, like a painter. And I want the ink to be heavy enough that you can smell it!
Ink is very sensual and tactile, just like paint is. With the heavy texture you can feel that, I want it lo look heavy and substantial.

"I Didn’t Hear You Fall" by Pat Bacon

“I Didn’t Hear You Fall” by Pat Bacon

Q: How does your environment impact your work? 

A: I live in the country and have for the past 40 years or so. I find that even when I’m in an urban environment, I’m taking pictures of the weeds in the sidewalk or the corner of a building that is deteriorating. I can’t seem to capture the essence of what is urban,
that’s why I like to look at urban photographs and paintings, those artists are capturing the vision of where they live, and that’s different from where I live.

I travel the state quite a bit and I get to stop in a lot of very rural places and take photographs, like the overgrown greenhouse in “Garden”, I just found it in a field and shot it. It was a nice unexpected thing to come across. I was so intrigued with this greenhouse and took about 20 shots and then I moved on and do something else.
A month later I pulled those images out and start looking at them, pinning them up on the wall in the studio and then finding other images to go with it. The greenhouse on its own seemed so incomplete to me. I printed it singular but it just didn’t work for
me. The corn images on either side of the greenhouse inform it on a design level with the cathedral effect of the tunnel of corn leaves and the architecture of the building. It also brings forward the idea of the greenhouse effect, global warming, and the earth
coming back and overcoming manmade structures. 

When I find images that work together it’s not a concrete thing right away, I don’t set out to make a statement about climate change. The substance or meaning comes through over time and you just know it when you see it. That process is pretty intuitive and sometimes I look at a print a year after I made it and say “wow, that says it for me”. Your work sometimes is ahead of your life and you can’t read it yourself for another 6 months or a year.

"Fire I" by Pat Bacon

“Fire I” by Pat Bacon

Q: Talk about your studio

A: My new press is in the barn studio next to my house. It was a cold spring, so in April I could print out there using a hot plate to warm the ink. Hopefully I’ll be able to use it up through November and then I’ll move into the house and use my smaller press.


From The Dirt to The Skies runs through Friday, October 4, 2019. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop.

PatBacon_OldOrchard_cropped

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Pat Bacon

If you want a label, today I would say that I am a “photographer/printmaker” knowing full well that I have a painter’s sensibility. I like to color outside of the lines and to experiment, which is not really a practice that is compatible with traditional photography or printmaking. There is a prescribed process and set of steps that you should follow.

Experiment with printmaking and fire

Experiment with printmaking and fire

Printmaking and photography, like all mediums require understanding and mastery. The intrigue for me is to gain mastery while not being a slave to the expected process. When working, I want to collaborate with the subject, using the chosen media to make the unspeakable into something concrete.

Hedgerow Fog, photogravure, 2018

Hedgerow Fog, photogravure, 2018

Burn Pile, photogravure, 2018

Burn Pile, photogravure, 2018

Currently my art incorporates printmaking, photogravure, and collage. Photographic images from my camera, scanner or phone capture a specific moment. What I do with those images after capturing them allows me to elevate the quiet and insignificant in a loud world. Each of my pieces carry the trace the marks of the process of making them.

"Old Orchard" and "Burn Pile", digital prints made from photogravure images with wax and oil paint.

“Old Orchard” and “Burn Pile”, digital prints made from photogravure images with wax and oil paint.

Art is not obvious. Art critic, Jerry Saltz once wrote “Art is for anyone. It just isn’t for everyone”. My work is not for everyone. I start working on something for the possibility of interacting with an image that has the potential to speak beyond the obvious.

Self portrait, in the fog

Self portrait, in the fog


Pat Bacon is one of eight gallery artists represented by Main Street Arts. She is featured in the exhibition CULTIVATE which runs April 7 through May 18, 2018. More information about Pat and her work can be found on our website. View more pieces by Pat Bacon on the gallery’s Artsy page.

From The Director: Alternative Photography at a glance

Installation shot of the exhibition

Installation shot of the exhibition

The idea for this exhibition came from wanting to show a different side of photography. More than an exhibition showing photos of places, people, and things (those are included, of course) but also a show about how these photographic images are physically made. By hand.

Having a background as a painter, graphic designer, and art educator before coming to Main Street Arts means that my connection to photography is not as a photographer. I use cameras regularly, have developed my own film, and have experienced the magic of the darkroom, both in high school and in college. I know the thrill of making a photograph by hand, if only on a small level. I was also an assistant to my father when he was a wedding photographer (I once dropped a roll of medium format film in the back of the church and instantly lost the images of the bride getting ready to get married—this is the horror of losing a photograph by hand). So, my connection to photography comes from a place of appreciation and of wonder. How do people capture such life and feeling in an image? Especially when you can’t review the shot you just took on a digital screen on the back of the camera.

John Coffer, shooting a plate on a cold December afternoon

John Coffer, shooting a plate on a cold December afternoon

This exhibition is an exploration of handmade photography. The various kinds of images featured fall under the “Alternative Process” heading (hence the very utilitarian title of this show!) and most harken back to a day before digital technology. The five artists featured in this exhibition represent various directions that can be taken when delving into an antique or vintage process.

“Cabbage and Gloves” photogravure and encaustic wax, by Pat Bacon

Even though this show is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of alternative process photography, each of the five artists brings something different to the exhibition. Some are staying as true to history as possible, like John Coffer with his “real-deal-ferrotype-tintypes”. At times, you could see one of John’s images and believe that you were looking at something that was made in the late 19th century. Others are going as far from history as possible, like Pat Bacon and her agricultural photogravure images. They were shot on her iPhone, printed using photopolymer plates, and buried in layers of encaustic wax.

"AND 2" by Romy Hosford (left) and "Seeing is Forgetting #3" by Jenn Libby

“AND 2″ by Romy Hosford (left) and “Seeing is Forgetting #3″ by Jenn Libby (right)

In an exhibition that is looking toward the historic with its feet planted in the contemporary, it is interesting to think about the work of both Jenn Libby and Romy Hosford. They both use memory and history as a vehicle to explore their own interests. In Romy’s salt prints and cyanotypes, she explores notions of metaphor, femininity, identity, and anxiety. While Jenn takes on the role of a documentarian, capturing bits of cultural ephemera and abstracting them through a wet plate collodion process. Asking us to reconsider the objects we are looking at in her work.

"On Looking Up, 3" by Ian Sherlock

“On Looking Up, 3″ by Ian Sherlock

Going back to the planning stages of this exhibition… I was visiting the annual Made in New York exhibition in April, 2016 at the Schweinfurth in Auburn and was struck by an abstract-leaning image of the sun and clouds, taken by a pinhole camera by Ian Sherlock. This image stuck with me for a while and was the inspiration for wanting to do a show on alternative processes. From there, it was figuring out how far down the rabbit hole I wanted to venture and it has truly been an educational experience for me.

Lastly, speaking of educational experiences, we have a tintype demo scheduled with John Coffer at the gallery on April 1st (no foolin’!). You can learn more, here. I hope that you can find the time to come and explore the work in this exhibition, it  runs through the end of March.