Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010


Two of a Kind (scratch board) Oil pastel on inked mat board, 4"x6" 2010.

I have never been the type of artist to hitch my career to any single set of materials or techniques. For me, art is about a way of seeing and I will employ whichever media come to hand or whatever makes the most sense for the project. That approach will be on display in my new show at McGuffey Art Center, in which I explore and re-explore images of my familiar subjects—tree and sky views—through three different media: dry point prints, scratch boards, and photographs.

Untitled dry point. 2" x 2" on 10" x 10.5" Tiepolo paper. Edition of 6. 2009.

Last autumn a friend of mine who is a master printer suggested that I try my hand at dry point, a very simple and direct engraving process wherein the artist scratches lines on a copper plate with a nail or stylus. I began with the expectation that I would feel constrained by the tool’s sharpness and its seeming irreversibility. The opposite happened: I felt completely liberated and in spite of the deferred gratification inherent in the printing process, it felt free and spontaneous. I worked with her to produce the eight small (2”x2”) prints in the exhibition.

There has always been one big limitation to printmaking for me however: the images are black and white (or with a very finite set of colors). I set out to discover a way to combine the dry point’s linear poetry with the kaleidoscopic spectacle that is my visual experience and my scratch boards are the result. I make them by inking a piece of mat board, coloring the background area with luscious Sennelier oil pastels, then scratching through the pastel with a stylus to reveal the dark board underneath. There will be about twenty small scratch boards (approximately 4”x6”) and a few of them reverse the technique by using dark pastel on a bright board.

My creative approach begins with photography—I carry a camera around like a sketchbook to record the ephemeral and visually stunning moments that fill my life. I wanted the exhibit to include at least a glimpse of that part of the process by showing some of my sources. Something larger started to emerge as I arranged the dozens of small Polaroid-like pictures—a few which have been enlarged to reveal details and hidden surprises. The images carry a strong sense of my particular vision of the world and they each stand on their own merits as creative expressions as well as being part of a cohesive whole. They comprise the third and perhaps strongest leg of the show.

Scottsville, VA 2006.

Though the three sets of pictures employ three distinct techniques, all originate from a single library of images. Indeed, some sources appear in two or all three of the groups. A few of them are tributes to artists whose work I admire. The collected works, all created in the past few months, reveal a vision that is specifically my own. They profit from multiple looks and the strengths of multiple approaches, unencumbered by the parameters of any specific technique.

Scratch is on display from June 1 to June 27, with an opening reception Friday, June 4 5:30 to 7:30. McGuffey Art Center is located at 201 Second Street NW Charlottesville, VA. Hours: Monday through Saturday 10 am – 6 pm, Sunday 1-5.

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