Wednesday, June 4, 2008
In 1981 I was invited to exhibit my work at the Slusser Gallery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. While the exhibition was scheduled in late Spring, a good number of people attended the show including a high school friend that I had not seen for many years. His name is Norm Stewart of Stewart & Stewart working out of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Norm, an accomplished artist, taught high school part time and ran a fine art silkscreen business. Trained at Cranbrook, Norm's work had been exhibited across the country and I admired his work over the years. He approached me to see if I would be interested in producing an edition of silkscreen prints of my work.
For years I had wondered if my work would lend itself to this process. Norm's an amazing artist whose personality and business practices made working with him very rewarding and memorable. Norm had already worked with numerous national artists. At his Wing Lake Studio, artist could live at the studio while their print was produced.
After I created a working sketch, he guided me through the process of preparing each color. I first inked each color separately using black ink on mylar. Norm then photographically produced a photo stencil of that color. He mixed the color and conducted the tightly registered silkscreen print on archival paper. It was amazing to watch this master printmaker at work. I could not get over his ability to match colors and control every phase of the priint.
When we completed the edition he documented the work and peddled the prints through exhibitions, contacts and direct sales. This work is still available for purchase at: stewartstewart.com
The process for me turned out to be difficult. I wanted the inked lines to be raised similar to the paintings I had been creating using acrylic extruded out of a fine nozzle applicator. However, my difficulties proved to provide me a pivotal point in my work. My subsequent paintings on canvas and paper exploded with color and the illusion of layering of the surface became even more complex.
I am grateful to call Norm and his wife Susan very close friends. I appreciate the fact that Art brought us to friendship. We worked hand in hand in business, but more importantly the experience taught me much more than how to make and sell a few prints. Norm helped me see new possibilities that I might never have considered.