Contemporary, Daily Dose of Jazz, Prints, Woodcut

Daily Dose of Jazz: Richard Sloat

In honor of the DC Jazz Festival, currently taking place in our capital city until June 10, we offer up another jazz-inspired print by contemporary artist Richard Sloat. Richard Sloat was born in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1945 and currently lives in Manhattan. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania with Rackstaw Downes and the Art Students League with Roberto Delamonica. He has lectured in New York and California and was elected to the National Academy. He is also a member of the Society of American Graphic Artists (SAGA) and is currently serves as SAGA’s president.

Sloat is one of those rare artists who works his images in stages or in print terms, states. Often one of his prints might go through ten states before he finally gets to the final or published state. Because he might work on a plate over a period of many years, he will occasionally decide that it is finished and print a small edition. Later, he will rework the plate adding aquatint and then edition the plate in a later state. This type of never-ending creativity and improvising can draw direct parallels to the approach of many jazz musicians. Whether they change the tempo from faster to slower, redo a song in a different key, or just change the inflection and emphasis in their delivery, it seems jazz singers and musicians are always reworking and redefining riffs and songs from years past.

On seeing and creating new works, Sloat states that “both woodcut and etching are transformative mediums that force the artist and print viewer to see and think of the world in a specific, graphic way. One type of transformation takes place as the artist works out the image on the etching plate or woodcut block. The working must be indirect, essentially a drawing is changed into a print. One can think of a Durer drawing which is not the same as a Durer woodcut, or a Rembrandt drawing which is not the same as his etching. The image can be only revealed when a print is pulled. Even for an experienced printmaker, this can be a truly magical transformation. Another part of this transformation is that one must think in terms of the medium in viewing the outside world. A print necessitates a simplicity, the extracting of the essential, form, line, light and shadow. If done well this gives clarity to the phantasmagoria of viewing the world, and brings us to its visual essence, which is so satisfying, the world seen afresh. Beyond the lovely feeling of visual pleasure, if we are not cynics, we attain and confirm meaning to our being. Our world is larger, more interesting, of deeper feeling and yes even more beautiful.

Jazz City. By Richard Sloat. Woodcut, 1977. Ed 4/50.

For more information of the DC Jazz Festival, check out the organization’s website. To see past prints included in our Daily Dose of Jazz, click here. And to view more prints by Richard Sloat, we invite you to visit our Washington, DC based gallery or our website.

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