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The Art of Printmaking with a Local Touch

Kingston Annual Printmakers ExhibitionI’ve wanted to visit Window Art Gallery for some time now, and this month’s show dedicated to the art of printmaking was the perfect opportunity to satisfy my curiosity. Because of this gallery’s location outside of the downtown core, tucked just off Princess Street at Victoria, it’s safe to say that stumbling across it made me feel like I’d discovered a hidden city gem.

Window Art Gallery is a non-profit community gallery which is completely volunteer-run and shares studio space with its affiliate, the Kingston School of Art. Window’s two main goals are to encourage artistic innovation and foster public exposure to creative and culturally diverse artwork. Window also tends to highlight the talents of local artists and takes pride in providing accessible and engaging exhibition space. The Kingston Annual Printmakers Exhibition (KAPE) is no exception and aligns quite well with the gallery’s philosophy. Window is currently featuring the works of thirteen printmakers from the Kingston area at KAPE, with a strong curatorial direction from Barb Carr, who is a leader in the Kingston printmaking community.

For those unfamiliar with printmaking, it is a rigorous art form that combines elements of drawing, painting, and design. Most methods of printmaking involve the meticulous hand production of plates in metal, stone, polymers, or wood, followed by a transfer of inked images to paper, thus creating an original print. Additional practices can vary by printmaking style and technique, such as etching, screenprint, or lithography. Approximately a dozen of these methods are represented at the Kingston Annual Printmakers Exhibition.

KAPE’s primary strength lies in its diverse selection of art to showcase. Printmaking is very much a discipline that celebrates the power of aesthetic nuance, and I enjoy that the spectrum is evident in this show. Some prints reflect abstract, conceptual, and impressionistic impulses, like Kym Fenlon-Spazuk’s graphic portraiture and Jenny Raymond’s raw, vibrant landscape. Raymond’s print is actually on display in conjunction with the relief-carved block she used to create it, which is a nice touch.

Other prints at KAPE revel in the exquisite details of printmaking. Neli Nenkova’s dreamlike three-part sequence is a fine example of this, where each etching’s cultural context shifts (from Celtic, to Artic, to Japanese) but the subject’s face remains static. You’ll also find prints at this show that take the collaborative mixed media approach and thrive on interdisciplinary artistic dialogue, such as Margaret Lock’s beautiful literary illustrations of Shakespeare using a mix of letterpress and woodcut.

The Kingston Annual Printmakers Exhibition runs from now until April 30 at Window Art Gallery, 647 Princess St. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday noon to 4 p.m. and Thursday noon to 8 p.m.

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