Gallery displays American printmaking

Open by Herb Jackson greets visitors to the Printmaking exhibit in an upper gallery.

Faith Hadley

Washburn’s Mulvane Art Museum is currently featuring “Boom: American Printmaking 1960-2000.” This historic set of works features pieces from artists of varying styles, backgrounds and times unified through print and country.

Every work hanging in the Maxine J. Anton gallery is selected from the museum’s permanent collection. “We had quite a challenge selecting down from that to the 43 that are in the exhibition,” said Julie Meyers, the curator of collections and exhibitions at the museum.

In selection the goal was to display the metamorphoses of the art movement in the last 40 years of the 20th century.

Walking into the gallery, the first piece visible is “Open” by Herb Jackson. A structured and symmetrical piece in subtle blue and browns. A geometric lithograph acts as a middle ground between the non-objective pieces and the photorealism portrayed in “Harvest Scape” by David Bernard. The etching portrays fragmented sepia scenes of various harvest time activities.

A 20th century art history class visited after reviewing the various art movements on display in the gallery. After a lecture, the students were invited to view the works for themselves, which Meyers sees as a great benefit of the Boom exhibit.

“Instead of just seeing works of art as slides or pictures projected on a screen they’re able to see the actual work of art and appreciate it at the right scale,” Meyers said.

This highly varied exhibition offers a snapshot not only into the art movements spanning more than 40 years, but also the history of the nation in which the pieces were made. The cynicism and worry of the Cold War era are rampant in William L. Haney’s piece, “C.A.T. Scanner.” The etching depicts an inner room full of switches and sinister medical workers looking out onto patients strapped into medical machines. These now common machines had recently emerged for clinical use when Haney produced this print.

This gallery is its own version of a time machine, whether one is interested in art, history or both. Head to the second floor of Mulvane Art Museum to check out this exhibition, which will be featured until May 30.