Thursday, February 4, 2010

Printmaking Books

I love finding second hand treasures.  Long before it was labeled as being "green", I loved hunting for cool old things at second hand shops, yard, estate or garage sales, flea markets, or even the side of the road. A while ago I heard a song by Cheryl Wheeler on the radio that sums up the excitement of estate sales. Watch her video on you tube. To sum it up, they don't make stuff like this anymore. I also love the 
history behind things, to imagine who owned them, and what they were like.  

Over the years, I have gathered a nice collection of printmaking books this way Some of my first art books were from an estate in south Florida when I got an emerging artist grant, and purchased the entire studio of an art teacher. Gradually I gathered books from used books stores, and if I really wanted a 
specific book, I would order from Amazon. On my recent trip to the Hospice 
thrift store, I scored five printmaking books that I am really excited about. 

Experiments in Relief Printmaking, Charles Smith 1954
Linoleum Block Printmaking Ernest W. Watson 1929
Modern Japanese Prints Oliver Statler 1956
A Treasury of Great Prints Irvin Haas 1956
Artist Proof Magazine Volume 1 Number 2

There were a few names written in them that led me to a doing some research online to find out who the previous owners were. I hit a gold mine of information! A local name in the books was Mrs. F. Paul Clements of Louisville that didn't bring up anything on Google. The second name claiming ownership of the books is Frederick O'Hara, who turns out to be a prominent woodcut printmaker from Albuquerque.

Inside the book Modern Japanese Prints by Oliver Statler, There were a few letters tucked inside.  One was written on old Par Avion stationary from Mr. Kiyoshi Saito, one of the Japanese printmakers written about in the book! There are several web pages about him,  is one.
The letter

           Image of Saito print from

The other letter is from Florence Pierce, addressed to Frederick as an attachment to the book, which was given as a gift to him from her in thanks for his thoughtfulness. Florence was another major artist of New Mexico -
Letter from Florence
Florence Pierce

Pierce pours layers of resin (mixed with pigment and/or milled fiberglass or cabosil) onto a square of mirrored plexiglas. The resulting work of art is like a living embodiment of light. Walk from one side to the other and it may change colors or depth. Shine light on it from the front and it will, depending on the color and composition of materials she has used, reflect overall brilliant light back at the viewer or show a deep, mysterious center bordered by a narrow, electric band of intense color. The variations are infinite, but the common element in all her pieces is a love of light and beauty that has made her work truly transcendental.

Pierce's artwork (photo from

It's amazing to think about the history behind old things, and the stories they can tell through a little research. I have only scratched the surface on all of these artists and how they were connected to each other.  The big missing piece of the puzzle is who was Mrs. F. Paul Clements, and how she obtained this collection of books.  Maybe she was Frederick O'Hara's daughter...  or she picked them up at an estate sale... I'm going to write a letter to her address in the book and see if I can find out anything else.  I'll keep you posted on what I find!

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