Richard Sloat
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The New York Times Art section, March 6, 1988
Excerpted from:
"Global and Satirical Images in Two Silvermine Shows"
by Vivien Raynor

Late last year, the Silvermine Guild Arts Center created a stir by giving birth, at the age of 65, to a second gallery -- not at its compound in New Canaan but in downtown Stamford. What's more, the center did the deed at the new Metro Center hard by the new Stamford Transportation Center that used to be the plain old Stamford Railroad Station.

Silvermine is not alone at Metro, of course -- Mead Paper, Prime Computer and Cabot, Cabot & Forbes are some of the other tenants -- but it does have prime space. The way the designers, David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Willis Mills of S.M.S. Architects, arranged things, this neo-classical pile stands apse backward on its plot so that the curving windows become a perfect storefront for art. No wonder the developer-landlords, Warwick-Malkin, have changed the gallery's status from temporary to indefinite.

Meanwhile, Silvermine itself, under the directorship of Andrew Stasik, has hopes of making it permanent, and to that end will be restaging productions that have already played Silvermine I, as well as original shows like the current "International Prints '88."

Its title notwithstanding, scarcely 10 percent of the 100-odd artists in that show sent in from abroad. Not that it matters, for such international events do little more than prove how small the world is. All kinds of prints have their moments here -- lithographs, etchings, engravings, lino- and woodcuts, monotypes -- even the hybrid collagraph, which is pulled from a plate built up with collage -- and there are wall labels explaining the different processes.

With juried events there is no telling how much the selection was determined by what was available and how much by the taste of the judge who, in this case, was Joann Moser, chief graphic curator at the National Museum of American Art in Washington. However, the bane of print shows, the images that glorify the virtuosity of their makers, are few and far between. Wilfred Loring's photographic aquatint of tree trunks crisscrossing on a suburban street is the lone example that sticks in this observer's memory.

Relatively rare, too, is the print that would be a billboard, although Claire Romano's woodcut and collagraph of green water cascading between black rocks is worth a second look for being the size and shape of a Japanese scroll.

Karl Schrag, another well-known name, makes a strong impression with his monotype of a seascape in which the soft colors, seemingly smudged on with the fingers, are activated by a few white scratches representing rain. The artist's etching and aquatint can be read either as an all-over abstraction of black strokes accompanied by a few streaks of lemon and blue on a pale green ground or as the woodland scene that it is.

In his black-and-white woodcut, "Punk City," Richard Sloat takes Jan Matulka's repeating Cubist patterns about New York City of the 1920's a step further by flattening buildings into a kind of Art Deco emblem.

Judy Youngblood uses an all-purpose figure similar in style to Mark Kostabi's "Everyman", which he multiplies into groups doing mysterious things -- notably playing with fire in a black-and-orange linocut. Using skeletons in the same way, R.B. Lytle comes up with a black-and-white woodcut of a jazz group.

Foremost among the dramatic, logolike images is Sergio Gonzalez-Tornero's large dry point of a tribal personage. It is a jet-black cameo on a pale lemon ground whose red eye is set frontally, Egyptian style, and whose mouth is open to expose half a dozen stubby teeth. At the other extreme is Kayo Okayasu's minutely hatched etching of a large black conifer hanging like an awning over a tiny figure in a field who wears a hat.

Jane Cummings Good, who is one of the show's few Connecticut artists, brings a similar devotion to her life-size engraving and aquatint of a fat cat propped up against a wall asleep. The pose defies gravity, but ailurophiles never lie. Displayed in a setting cunningly designed by Carlus Dyer, the show remains at the Metro Center until March 19, when it will proceed in two parts to John Szoke Graphics in Manhattan.

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