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Jackie Demaline: Why Clay Street at The Carnegie is a Must-See

Here’s why Clay Street Press: Cincinnati Portfolio I-IV at The Carnegie through Feb. 7 is a must-see:
 
“With Clay Street Press,” said The Carnegie’s exhibitions director Matt Distel, “you see how a printmaker has essentially curated four exhibitions over 30 years that each serve as a snapshot of the work being made in the region in 10 year intervals.”
 
It’s a remarkable passion project by Mark Patsfall, who is Clay Street Press and this is the first time work from all four portfolios is brought together for an exhibit. You can follow them around the room in chronological order.
 
At a preview, Patsfall stood in the main gallery of the The Carnegie, surrounded by 40 poster-sized prints, a retrospective of a generation of work by some Cincinnati area’s best-known artists.
 
There are 10 pieces from each of four art print portfolios created in 1983, 1993, 2003 and 2013. 
 
Along with the well-known are lesser-known talents whose work invite consideration.
 
Portfolio I: Kevin Booher, Stephanie Cooper, Stuart Fink, April Foster, Jan Harrison, Diana Duncan Holmes and Timothy Riordan, Jack Meanwell, Brent Riley, Sandy Rosen, Jim Williams
 
When he began the portfolio project in 1983, Patsfall invited “people I knew and had worked with before, people I bumped into” to contribute a piece. Some were printmakers, most were not.  It was a formula that worked and that’s what Patsfall kept doing. 
 
The first year was the only time there was a theme: “something that might be relatable to Cincinnati.”
 
There are playful entries: Jack Meanwell’s “Queen Sitter” and Stephanie Cooper’s “Pigs in Porkopolis” featuring a woman and her small pink herd on the run.
 
Diana Duncan Holmes and Timothy Riordan, still creating art together, as always bring together visual and literary art. Her etching is based on a Polaroid she took at Cincinnati Zoo. Kevin Booher takes a look at the Reds Stadium with artistic license.
 
Portfolio II: Jay Bolotin, Kim Burliegh, Stuart Goldman, Peter Huttinger, Vicki Mansoor, Stephen McCarthy, Kelly McKaig, Joel Otterson, Bruce Riley, TODT
 
In 1993, there are more terrific local artists: nationally renowned Bolotin was creating “A Mechanical Opera” and raw, woodcut men suggest monumental efforts.  
 
Vicki Mansoor has the show’s only three-dimensional work – a black-and-white print that is a paper dress, the pattern tiny black lines. Mansoor was remarking on the repetitive nature of women’s work, Patsfall said. 
 
Portfolio III: Farron Allen, Andrew Au, Holland Davidson, Heidi Endres, Mark Fox, Rob Jefferson, Andrea Knarr, Ellen Price, Michelle Red Elk, Thom Shaw
 
This was the year there almost wasn’t a portfolio. In 2003, the economy was less than friendly but Patsfall decided to continue the series. It includes some political comment like Thom Shaw’s “Urban Medals” – a battered, middle-aged African-American man in his armchair in front of a TV, a few scars and a lot of empty beer cans. 
 
 
Portfolio IV: Noel Anderson, Terence Hammonds, Tony Luensman, Tim McMichael, Kate Kern, Yvonne Van Eiden, Casey Riordan Millard, Joe Winterhalter, Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis, Jennifer Purdum
 
The prints are smaller (the economy, Patsfall observed) but portfolio is filled with a wide variety of techniques, like Anthony Luensman’s subtle color field,  a pattern of soft circles printed on glass. 
 
Mark Patsfall, by the way, says it doesn’t feel as if it’s been 30 years. 
 
If the exhibit makes you hungry for more, running concurrently at the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP Galleries is “Printer’s Proof,” a survey of 33 years of prints and editions produced by Clay Street Press, which reaches far beyond Cincinnati.
 
Also on view:
 
Distel noted that the work in the two exhibits “are all investigations, over decades.”
 
In Over Time, on view in the upstairs galleries, John Lanzador draws inspiration from a small plastic figurine of a female bowler. For more than 20 years he has revisited this image to create more than 200 bas relief wood carvings with the figurine as a central component.
 
Also for 20 years, photographer William Messer has routinely visited Monet’s garden at Giverny to create black and white photography that seeks to reveal the changing environment and landscape from which Monet drew inspiration. T
 
David Parks’ photographs from the ‘70s and ‘80s document his bike rides around Denver, an urban center’s gradual change and one photographer’s relationship to his environment.
 
Clay Street Press and Over Time, through Feb. 7. He Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington. Free. Gallery hours: 12-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. 859-491-2030 and www.thecarnegie.com.
 
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts
Photos provided