Contemporary, Gallery Opening Receptions, Gallery Openings, Mezzotint, Prints

Art Werger- Moments in Mezzotint

Exuberance- Art Werger, 2010

The Old Print Gallery is pleased to present the new work of Art Werger in a gallery show, entitled Moments in Mezzotints, opening tomorrow, February 18, 2011. An experienced and innovative printmaker, Art Werger has shared and displayed his work in countless galleries. Werger has works in the collections of The Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Boston Public Library, The Brooklyn Museum, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Trenton Museum in New Jersey, to name a few. Werger received his BFA in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1978 and his MFA from the University of Wisconsin in 1982. He was Chairman, Fine Arts Division and Professor of Art at Wesleyan College, Macon, Georgia from 1982-2000. He is currently the Director of Foundations, Professor of Printmaking, at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio.

Art Werger grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey- a childhood that greatly influenced his printmaking. In his artist statement, Werger notes that many of his prints are reminiscent of boyhood summers in his neighborhood. Certainly, many of his newer works highlight moments found in suburban communities.

Abruptly- Art Werger, 2010

Reverse features a mom as she backs out of a driveway- her face a mix between anxiety and impatience. Abruptly shows a parking lot scene, with a body quickly moving among the cars to a destination unknown- but defiantly not unimaginable. The viewer runs through possibilities in his head- “maybe he is running errands, perhaps picking up a last-minute item or two at the grocery”- either way, it’s not an uncommon weekend scene in suburbia. Even Advice– a quieter and calmer scene- is lyrical of a pleasant suburban childhood- a father bestowing advice to his child- a hand reassuringly laid on their shoulders. Whether these were scenes that Werger experienced as a child or just observed throughout his life, it is clear that he is fine-tuned to all of the personal politics and exchanges of suburban living.

American Dream- Art Werger, 2011

Werger also makes a strong statement about these communities in his two larger prints, American Dream and McMansions. McMansions offers viewers a bird’s eye view of a community of expensive and expansive houses. Seen from afar, the viewer is cognizant of their monotony- clearly a message Werger wants to send about the state of our current community and residential development. American Dream features much of the same- boring, repetitive, and indistinctive houses, stuck on a cul-de-sac with no exit. Much more of a social commentary than McMansions, American Dream draws attention to the exclusiveness of richer suburban areas, as well as indicates their lack of connection to the “outside” world. Trapped in a metaphorical bubble- it is clear that nothing can come into or out of these communities- whether it is new people, ideas, or change.

The rest of Werger’s new show focuses on the subtle nuances of human relations. Centering on brief moments of human interaction, Werger depicts exuberance, contemplation, trust, and resolve in emotionally charged scenes. Torment and Secluded are two especially powerful images and brilliant examples of Werger’s capacity as an artist. In all of his prints, viewers are exposed to familiar scenes of love gone wrong, of moments shared with friends, or stolen moments alone. While all-in-all not unusual scenes, Werger’s capacity to express such detail, coupled with his very keen and observant eye, turn these prints into fresh narratives.

Torment- Art Werger, 2010

Moreover, Werger’s prints are drawn from such unique perspectives and angles- bestowing a palpable dreamlike and intimate quality to the prints. In his prints, the viewer feels like he is right in the moment- observing from an invisible corner of a room- and privy to all the furrowed brows, eye rolls, and sighs that manifest from raw emotion. And since the moments are especially intense and private experiences, the viewer shares in that visual and palpable emotion, making Werger’s prints that much more commanding.

His prints, all mezzotints, are rich and very tonal. Mezzotints are made from a metal plate, rocked and roughened until they print solid black, and then smoothed over to bring out the details and highlights of an image.  Looking through his past work, it is clear that Werger continues to advance toward technical greatness. In this newest collection, Werger explores the process of layering two images on one print. This thoughtful coupling serves to extend each captured moment into a fuller narrative, bestowing a strong cinematic feel to the black and white images. Werger notes film noir and the cinematic technique of Alfred Hitchcock as influences to his visual style- one that exudes tension and isolation. About his prints, Werger explains, “All of my work involves a level of voyeurism or intrusion. I want my images to create a tension based on phobic response, whether it’s a fear of falling or drowning. I want to elicit an active response to the representational image. Rather than intending to comfort the viewer, I want to challenge preconceptions.”

Moments in Mezzotint is a very fresh, raw, and exciting show to have up in the gallery. To celebrate the opening of this new show, the Old Print Gallery is hosting an opening reception on Friday, February 18, 2011, from 5-8pm. Art Werger will be in attendance and ready to answer any questions you might have, as well as discuss his method and inspiration for his new show. The reception is free and at The Old Print Gallery, located in the heart of Georgetown. There will be wine and other beverages, along with light snacks. We encourage all of our blog readers and gallery customers to come to the event and experience these prints firsthand.

After the opening, Moments in Mezzotint will continue to run in the gallery until April 8, 2011. For questions about the opening, artist, or show, feel free to contact us at 202-965-1818, email us at info@oldprintgallery.com, or visit our website. The post below also has a slideshow of some of Werger’s new images, and you can also view the new show online here.

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