Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ernest Roth and Printmaking in Venice

John Taylor Arms, (American 1887-1953), Venetian Mirror, 1935, etching. Private collection


The exhibition, Reflections and Undercurrents: Ernest Roth and Printmaking in Venice, 1900-1940, has been on view almost a full week and the Mitchell Gallery has had many visitors excited about these views of Venice. Exhibition curator Eric Denker gave a fascinating overview of the artists and their works in his lecture this past Sunday. The connections between many of the artists and the influence and inspiration of James McNeill Whistler on their work is carefully explored.

It is interesting to note the similarities between many of the artists, particularly those artists who had architectural or draftsman training such as John Taylor Arms, Jules Andre Smith, and Louis Rosenberg. These three artists "happened upon" etching--Arms through a small etching kit as a Christmas gift from his wife. Smith taught himself after receiving his degree in architecture from Cornell University, and Rosenberg received a fellowship to study printmaking at the American Academy in Rome following his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Arms's style is very clean and precise, as seen in his etching, Venetian Mirror. Although most of the artists in this exhibition created their drawings directly on the copper plate, this image has the feeling of T-squares, triangles and precision pens. No variances in lines--and in some ways, not as poetic--no wavering liberties are taken, (which does not mean that Arms did not take liberties in composition, as noted in the reflection in the water, which is a mirror image).

                                     Mortimer Luddington Menpes,(Australian, 1855-1938) Piazzetta and 
                                     Ducal Palacec. 1910, etching. Private collection.

Comparison of the same group of buildings (but a detail view rather than vedute, or cityscape) by Mortimer Luddington Menpes (Australian, 1855-1938) depicts a wider contrast in tonality, texture and play of shadows and other atmospheric effects, qualities that are less prominent in Arms' work.

Both of these artists's works possess  strong design and printmaking craftsmanship, as well as understanding of architectural structure, but they have different philosophies about format and composition and these comparisons are part of what makes this exhibition so interesting. And again, going back to Whistler's stylistic innovations and the influence of his visions provides the viewer a unique journey to Venice.

There are 100 prints in this exhibition, part of which are on view the Kohl Gallery at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland through December 10, 2013. And come explore printmaking in our Opening Reception and Family Event on Sunday, November 3 from 3:30-5 p.m. This event is free and open to the public--just remember to turn your clock back one hour!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reflections & Undercurrents:

Ernest Roth and Printmaking in Venice, 1900-1940

Ernest Roth (1879-1964), Ca d'Oro, 1913. Etching. Private collection.
The Mitchell Gallery is opening its newest exhibition on Friday and so we have been very busy with installation.

The city of Venice has long been a source of inspiration for artists and this exhibition focuses on the works of American artist Ernest Roth (1879-1964) and his contemporaries. Roth was one of the most significant American etchers of the first half of the twentieth century. Although Roth created many views of important world cities, it is his prints of Italy there are considered his most important achievement.

The exhibition explores the precursors of Roth's works which include James McNeill Whistler and his circle of artists: Joseph Pennell, Otto Bacher, Mortimer Menpes and continues on through the examination of the better known artists around him. Even though the etching process itself is fairly uniform, the variances of each artists' treatment of "the line" creates a fascinating tour of Venice. 

Exhibition curator Eric Denker has thoughtfully put together a shared exhibition of over 100 etchings  with the Mitchell Gallery at St. John's College and the Kohl Gallery at Washington College in Chestertown.  Mr. Denker has two lectures scheduled, one at the Kohl Gallery at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 23 and at The Mitchell Gallery at 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 27. There is a Mitchell Gallery members wine and cheese reception following the Sunday lecture and this will be a great opportunity to chat with Mr. Denker.
Ca d'Oro, Venice

It is worth mentioning that the Mitchell Gallery is offering a trip to the Dalmation Coast beginning and ending in Venice, June 18-26, 2014. For more information about this fabulous trip, e-mail . This is a great opportunity to see some of the views of La Serenissima, Croatia and other sights.

If you aren't a Mitchell Gallery member, consider joining this dedicated group of art enthusiasts! Membership can be on-line through the Mitchell Gallery website or contact the Members Coordinator at (410) 295-5551.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Karl Schrag: Memories and Premonitions

Last Days of Karl Schrag Exhibition at The Mitchell Gallery

Karl Schrag,  Memories and Premonitions--The Young
Artist, 1981. Etching on Wove Paper. Gift of the artist. 
SUAC 1990.064. Syracuse University Art Galleries.
We are into the last couple of days of the exhibition and it has been such a pleasure to learn about this highly esteemed printmaker and teacher and to enjoy his work in the gallery for these eight weeks.

The Sunday afternoon lecture was held this past weekend and we had knowledgeable and enthusiastic participants. One of the many things I love about my job is what our visitors bring to the gallery--little "factoids" of information found in other places and sources. So, I'm sharing one of the "factoids" given to me this weekend by one of our visitors.

In the small gallery is a print titled Memories and Premonitions--The Young Artist, 1981. This print reflects memories of Schrag's childhood in Karlsruhe, Germany. Notice his mother and father sitting in opposing angles from each other and the young Schrag sketching in the lower right hand corner. One of the most interesting"factoids" on this print is the domed building in the top left corner.

Why is that dome so important? Well, that dome has an important place in Annapolis history. Maryland's State House is the oldest state capitol still in continuous legislative use and the only State House to have ever served as the nation's capitol. Architecturally what's important is that the dome in Karlsruhe was the inspiration for the Maryland State House! See the photos of the Karlsruhe Palace . The dome sits in the center of the symmetrically attached wings. Compare the image of the palace with photos of the Maryland State House on the State House website found .

Who knew we would have a connection with this German-American artist?
Maryland State House, courtesy of MSA website

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Remains at Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Mitchell Gallery Education Trip to Greece and Turkey

I have just returned from the Greece and Turkey trip hosted by The Mitchell Gallery September 24-October 2. It was fabulous to be in such good company to see so many important historical and archeological sites. I shared hosting duties with St. John's College tutor Thomas May and between us, we were a force in action! There are still many things I am sorting out for recall, as we visited at least one site a day. Gohagen & Company, the travel agency located in Chicago, made all the arrangements for us to be on a small French ship, the M.S. L'Austral. The size of this beautiful 5-star ship enabled us to get into ports inaccessible to the larger cruise ships, and also allowed us to dock early in order to be at the sites right at opening times. 

The site trips provided us an opportunity to get a concise history of ancient Greek and Roman civilization, but also to sort out the many gods and their spouses and offspring. The gods are not an easy crowd to keep happy--lots of passion and revenge among them, so I can see why there were temples built to placate their dispositions. Of course, it's difficult to narrow down the experience to a few words, but one of most impressive sites was that of Ephesus, a city originally built by the Greeks and then taken over by the Romans.  This UNESCO World Heritage site located in Ismar Province in Turkey has remnants from 

Mosaics in the "Terrace Houses" in Ephesus
settlements from the Bronze Age, but the Temple of Artemis built in the 6th century was initially it's "claim to fame." The sheer scale of this former municipality of about 50,000 people is over-whelming, and only about 10% of the site has been excavated, beginning in the mid-1800s. The level of sophistication of their society and the thoughtful ness of their "urban planning" is remarkable. It was an important site for Christians as well, as it is thought that the Gospel of John was written there. The remains of the Library of Celsus is beautiful, as are the surviving mosaics found throughout the site.

It is through the good offices of Pamela McKee that this second education trip was arranged. Other college and university groups were included in this trip of which The Mitchell Gallery had the largest representation. The program was full, and besides the site visits led by well-informed local guides, there were lectures, performances, dinners and receptions--all made easy by the incredibly comfortable suites aboard ship and a most gracious staff. 

Of course it is wonderful to be back home and have the Karl Schrag exhibition Memories and Premonitions still on the walls to keep me company while I reminisce. It was a memorable trip in all the best ways and it is with great enthusiasm that I share the news of another trip planned June 18-26, 2014, "Coastal Life in the Dalmatian Coast," which begins and ends in Venice. For more information about the upcoming trip,  contact Pamela McKee at . 

Lucinda Dukes Edinberg
Art Educator