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"INK DIFFERENT, TRADITION AND NEW TECHNOLOGY"
THE 28TH SOUTHERN GRAPHICS COUNCIL CONFERENCE,
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, CORAL GABLES

by Susan Goldman

(Archived article from June 2000 - click here for current articles)
 
I had the opportunity to attend this year's SGC Conference at the University of Miami at Coral Gables, Florida. "Ink Different, Tradition and New Technology, SGC 2000", held March 1st - 5th drew an attendance of more than 750 printmakers from around the states and abroad. This type of attendance is testament to the strength of the Southern Graphics Council membership and the dedication and professionalism of an outstanding Board of Directors. Throughout the years great passion for printmaking has been kept alive by this group, and the community of younger students entering the arena is exciting and promises a healthy future.

The University of Miami is an absolutely beautiful campus. Amid tropical flowering bougainvillea, saw palmettos and schools of green parrots flying about, Lise Drost, Professor of Printmaking, organized an action packed conference. The weather, cooperative as ever, no doubt made this a truly southern conference. There were many terrific exhibitions held throughout the campus, in the city of Coral Gables and in downtown Miami. Wednesday evening, the conference kicked off its opening with "The Great American Pop Art Store: Multiples of the Sixties", which was held at the University of Miami Lowe Art Museum. More great art could be seen on Thursday evening, including "Photographs by Carl Van Vechten in Hand Gravure, by Richard Benson", at the Miami Dade Public Library and "Drawings and Prints by Brice Marden", at the Miami Art Museum. On Friday evening there was the "Downtown Coral Gables", art gallery walk. Numerous galleries were open, showcasing area and national artists amid charming streets home to delicious Cuban restaurants.

Throughout the days a multitude of workshops and panel/lectures were presented. Perhaps so many ongoing workshops presented a dilemma of which session to attend, but that seems to be always the case at these conferences. It would be unkind of me to say which were absolutely the premier sessions as it was impossible to attend everything. However some informative and eye opening demos included Joan Hall and Maryanne Simmons, from Washington University, presenting oversized Japanese papermaking using 5' x 9' screens; Donald Furst from the University of North Carolina, presentating "The Amazing Technicolor Pixel-Mezzo-Photopolymer etching"; Photogravure by Luc Janssens from Diablo Valley College, CA; and our own Dennis O'Neil (Corcoran School of Art) from Hand Print Workshop International, presenting prints by Russian artists and the upcoming exhibit in Moscow, "A View From Here". This is just a skimming off the top of a rich menu from the conference, which tried to present an equal balance of presenters that deal with traditional and newly developed technologies in printmaking.

More highlights of the conference included the Printmaking Product Fair and the Digital Product Fair. Products of the finest in traditional printing tools, papers and inks were represented. Presses from Conrad, American French Tool and Takach were on site. Susan Rostow and William Jung were printing on many of the new presses, demonstrating their terrific line of new and improved waterbase inks offering an extensive palette to choose from. The Digital Product Fair offered many interesting materials and equipment and even included Joanne Paschall, Director of Nexus Press, whose studio in Atlanta is most reputable for its work in offset book arts. She shared many of her recent projects using some of the newest technologies available.

The Open Portfolio Session was held in the George Smathers Wellness Center, which is the athletic facility on campus, and state of the art, I might add. The session was held in a gymnasium with a running track about the size of a football field. It was terrific. The enormous space allowed easy viewing and handling of the work on display. It was the best open folio session I have ever attended. The work by young artists and students was outstanding and comprehensive in scope. Dialogue was ongoing between viewer and exhibitor and exhibitor-to-exhibitor. There were great book works as well as some especially interesting work by Randy Bolton from the University of Delaware, who is marketing folios of prints on cd rom. Boltonís strategy is to market the cd rom, the virtual work of art, as the actual work of art, which the collector would possess and see on his or her computer. This raises issues of copyright infringement, a problem all artists struggle with. I guess this medium will surely reduce shipping expenses for his print editions!

This year's SGC 28th Printmaker Emeritus Award was given to Krishna Reddy. A moving tribute to Reddy was given by Leonard Lehrer, Professor Emeritus, New York University. Lehrerís dedication was moving, documenting Krishna Reddy's long poetic history of study with William Stanley Hayter, his years in New York and India, and even his association with Mahatma Gandhi. There was a beautiful reception afterwards for Reddy and his impressionistic abstract viscosity etchings and engravings. Mr. Reddy, though far along in years, is still a vibrant, active and generous working artist.

The conference closed with a great party for all the attendees. Held at the Woman's Club, an art deco style venue located in Miami Beach, once again traditional Cuban chicken, black beans, rice and plantains was the fare. Sydney Cross passed the honorary gavel to new president Joe Sanders. Strike up the band, eat your dessert of Cuban flan and conversations ensued. Farewells were exchanged, and a few hardy souls ventured down to the ocean strip to catch the night life of South each. Next year in Austin, Texas. Hold on to your roller, I mean mouse!

Be sure to check out the University of Miami website for pictures and updates about this past conference. That address is http://www.as.miami.edu/art/SGCprosepctus.html. For more information on next year's conference, "Border Crossings", at University of Texas at Austin, look at http://www.utexas.edu/cofa/a_ah/sgc/.