Stone Quarry’s new show is borrowed from Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art
By Jon Dufort
The changing leaves make it a great time to visit Cazenovia’s Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, with its secret garden, open grassy slopes and wooded paths that wind past hulking sculptures. If the promise of natural splendor isn’t enough to convince you to make the trek, consider the New York Prints of Mind exhibit in the John and Virginia Winner Memorial Art Gallery at the hill’s crown an added incentive. Represented within this group of prints borrowed from New York City’s Museum of Modern Art you will find some of the biggest names in fine art from the past six decades and some darlings of the present to boot.
As you might expect from such a grab bag of personalities, approaches and execution vary widely. James Rosenquist handily represents the sensibilities of the pop era in “Campaign,” where a neat phalanx of Kleenex boxes marches through a field of fireworks and flowers. One box fades to transparency to reveal the lapel of a highly decorated (get it?) soldier being peppered (with black pepper) from above. Contrast that tidy, ironic work with Robert Motherwell’s “Samurai,” a phallic stab of abstract expressionist black.
Robert Rauschenberg’s “Drizzle” characteristically superimposes abstract shapes, scientific diagrams and photographic swatches—a wristwatch, men hopping a chain link fence—in such a way that they defy common sense narrative. Lee Bontecou’s “Thirteenth Stone” looks like an architectural sketch for a bulging organic dwelling from a sci-fi future.
There’s also some later work from Jasper Johns: “Voice 2” from 1983 and “Between the Clock and the Bed,” circa 1989. See a piece by the recently deceased Cy Twombly, a small and unassuming print of humble, repeating loops like precursors to a third-grader’s cursive Es. Why stop name-dropping there? There’s a Helen Frankenthaler and a Jim Dine, too.
The newest offerings are at least as fun to look at. Are they beans, lips or pickle chips? No way to tell in Ellen Gallagher’s untitled 1997 lithograph, but they repeat, they’re organized into neat rectangles and they’re getting bigger all the time. It’s also easy to like Kiki Smith’s little girl protagonist as she leads a goofy exodus of extinct animals or Amy Cutler’s hirsute beauties as their infinite tresses weave themselves into dreams. Lisa Yuskavage’s oddly maudlin “Ukrainian Shirt” is nonetheless sensitively drawn.
The wall labels share a wealth of fetishistic details, not about the artists but about the printing process of each piece. The carefully chosen papers have poetic names: Gampi Torinoko, Kochi, Dieu Donne; Papel de Amate, Rives BFK. “Hand-colored intaglio” on En Tout Cas, “lithograph in 3 colors” on J. Whatman; phrases that help us imagine the connoisseur’s appreciation and expert care that goes into the production of each print. It gives a clue to the painstaking process behind the scenes, which in the case of lithography includes manually grinding ruby grit between slabs of stone until a perfectly clean and smooth surface is achieved.
The attention to production makes sense when you realize that one thing unites the works in the show: Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) printed them all. They’ve been collaborating with artists since 1957 to create fine art print editions and are still in business today. ULAE was the brainchild of Tatyana Grosman, a woman who possessed a combination of talent, taste, commitment to craft and a salesman’s ability to land important clients. The show’s curator, Joseph Scala, who is also executive director of SQHAP, has dedicated this exhibition to her memory.
New York Prints of Mind runs through Nov. 27 at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park’s John and Virginia Winner Memorial Art Gallery, Stone Quarry Hill Road, Cazenovia. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. It’s open to the public with the Art Park’s general admission of $5 per car. For more information, call 655-3196 or visit www.stonehill quarryartpark.org.