Printmaking might not get as much airplay as other art forms in the region, which is why it's welcome and exciting that Hedge Gallery, one of the premier independent galleries in the city, highlights the artists who work in the medium with an annual exhibition.
This year, the exhibition features two woman — Phyllis Fannin and Lisa Schonberg
— and showcases their variety of printmaking techniques and practices. It opens Friday, Jan. 21 from 5 to 8 p.m. A preview reception runs the Wednesday before from 5:30 to 7:30.
Hillary Gent, Gallery Director and owner of Hedge, is excited to spotlight printmaking for the fourth year in a row.
“I’m not sure if the public understands the fundamentals of making prints, or if they realize the extensive amount of effort that goes into printmaking techniques,” said Gent.
Lisa Schonberg and Phyllis Kohring Fannin are long-time educators who met while taking a CIA course in printmaking many years ago and remain deeply involved in the printmaking community. Their focus recently has been on the natural world.
“Both Lisa and I have been exploring organic and natural imagery and it occurred to me that all the natural growth begins in the earth and grows up to the sky and I thought it would be a good beginning,” said Fannin. “The print making exhibit presents some of the various processes that are available both traditional and experimental processes and how each artist explores and utilizes them.”
Schonberg said that Fannin came up with the title, "From the Ground Up.”
“I believe it's apropos because some of her imagery is related to beauty and mystery of trees and the forest and mine is also nature oriented, specifically about sky/water scapes, botanical foliage from the garden and the woods and nature related items/treasures I've collected over the years.”
Fannin, who attended Mount Union College and has her Masters in Studio painting from Kent State University, engraved large portraits of trees on Plexiglas, which she has worked on for several years. The imagery, Fannin said, was taken from personal photographs from traveling and hiking in the Metroparks system.
Schonberg, like Fannin, has a long running affiliation with Zygote by way of renting a space in their facility and also teaching and sometimes volunteering for 14 years now. She said that teaching is still is a big part of her life and a passion which is, for her, “hard to turn it off."
Zygote press is a printmaking studio offering educational opportunities for artists in Cleveland and beyond. Fannin has been involved in Zygote from the very beginning, was on the board of directors for over nine years and was the high school teacher of artist, curator, arts expounder, and Zygote co-founder Liz Maugans.
“Zygote has been an integral part of my life since its birth", said Fannin, “Liz Maugans was one of my treasured high school students. My teaching experiences remind me to experiment and explore and continue to learn. I often learn as much from my students as hopefully they learn from me.”
Furthering her exploration into organic and natural imagery, Fannin’s piece “Still a Family “captures the sublime simplicity of the human POV of a leafless tree with all of its delicately detailed bark and notches as it climbs up into a stark white expanse. The piece is masterfully observed in its intricacy while meditatively serene in its composition.
“I hope the viewers see the treasure of nature; its beauty and help to preserves it,” said Fannin.
Also meditating on the natural environment, Lisa Schonberg combines a variety of processes including relief, intaglio, monoprinting and screenprinting in her work. She allows the molecular mechanics of nature to inform her work, drawing from processes like water flow, earth formations, intertwined foliage while being reverent the bounty of our planet like, land, wind, water and plant life.
“I'm really a nature geek of sorts ever since my parents introduced me to camping, hiking and the beach as a child,” said Schonberg. “Over the years, the 4 elements, air, water, earth and fire have figured into my work and remain at the core of what inspires me, along with how these things effect our world and the human condition. I find the elements a vital part of my repertoire and believe in the restorative power of nature and the elements. I hope the viewer takes away a knowledge of what a contemporary print can be and appreciates my homage to nature. Some of the work in this exhibit is super large and will be hanging unframed sort of as a mini installation. It is my hope that by their sheer size and scale that these pieces will elicit a feeling of calm and influence the viewers’ appreciation that art and nature has the power to be restorative, especially now in such uncertain, tumultuous times."