Woodcut prints dazzle at Detroit Artists Market

From The Detroit News
Reviews

This six-person show documents the breadth of the woodcut technique, with striking images.

The season opener at Detroit Artists Market, “Abstraction and Landscape: Contemporary Woodcut,” reminds us of the breadth this particular printing technique encompasses.

If your memories of woodcut are limited to the mess you made in fourth grade art class, you owe it to yourself to see this six-woman show. Curated by Endi Poskovic, a professor at the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan, “Abstraction and Landscape” runs through Oct. 18.

There are two sets of work in particular that are visual knock-outs.

A series of six prints by Antwerp-based Goedele Peeters, a visiting artist this fall at the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, presents minimalist, simply colored images of water features — in one case a swimming pool, in the other a canal or drainage ditch.

The “Swimming Pool” series can hardly help but grab your attention, with its apparent, sly reference to similar studies by David Hockney, who famously created pop-art paintings of glittering Los Angeles pools.

Peeters employs many of the same hues as the British artist, particularly a light, watery aqua. But where Hockney’s colors are so vivid as to be almost otherworldly, Peeters’ are bleached out, reduced and minimalized much like the overall design of these surprisingly handsome prints.

Also completely impossible to avoid is New Orleans artist Teresa Cole’s huge “Curling in on Itself,” a large, colorful mass hanging several feet from the floor, suspended from a grid at ceiling height.

Hanging here are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of like-sized rectangular prints or scrolls, each on colored strings of varying lengths. Every one, of course, is a woodcut print — about one foot tall and four inches wide — and the variety of color and design is dazzling.

Created while on an artistic residency in India, Cole arranges these scrolls in a tight, but orderly mass, a little like bunched chimes on someone’s porch. The effect is striking — as DAM director Matt Fry puts it, “a real show-stopper.”

Not everything here is washed in color. Detroit-based Susan Goethel Campbell presents six monochromatic, black and white “Landscapes.” Based on nighttime aerial photographs, the images — converted to woodcut — document the sprawling nature of urbanization.

Like all of Campbell’s work, however, these seemingly simple prints are more intriguing than you might first think. Despite their apparent ordinariness — black-and-white snapshots taken from some plane at night — the woodcut process gives the grid work of light and dark a mesmerizing depth and subtlety.

MHodges@detroitnews.com