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February 20 - March 28, 2009

In Gallery 1

Human Doings


In Gallery 2

Prints from
reviews: New City

Adriane Herman

Miller & Shellabarger

John Neff

On Friday, February 20, 2009, Western Exhibition opens two new shows: In Gallery 1, we present a solo exhibition by Adriane Herman and in Gallery 2, a group show of new prints from Fresh Hot Press, a Madison, Wisconsin-based printmaking shop. The shows will run from February 20 - March 28, 2009.

For decades, Adriane Herman has instinctively archived minutiae that others would likely toss out without a thought or, perhaps more likely, never let accumulate in the first place. For her third show at Western Exhibitions, Herman will present a series of inlaid burnishing clay tablets that take their inspiration from other people’s “to do” lists. These wall-mounted tablets have surfaces that are extraordinary in every sense of the word – shiny, sensuous, even sublime. To make these works, Herman transposes a larger reproduction of her source image (a “to do” list) to a wooden board coated with 20 thin layers of burnishing clay. She carves out the text and fills it in with thin layers of an opposing color of clay. Next, she sands, polishes and burnishes the top layer of clay until the text/image is revealed, a laborious and time-consuming process whose resulting shine, that sublime surface, is all elbow grease – no varnishes or coatings. It has to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.

Nadine Wasserman, an independent critic and curator, aptly describes Herman’s intentions in an essay for the show “Ruminant” held at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Portland, Maine:

Adriane Herman takes items that would normally be discarded and transforms them. Herman has collected an archive of other people’s shopping and “to do” lists as a way to ascertain human action and intention and to reveal the human compulsion for order. List-making is often a coping mechanism and a way to organize an otherwise chaotic world. By recreating these lists in a more permanent and labor-intensive medium, Herman makes them monumental. Like a forger, she copies the look of the list as closely as possible into a clay medium and then burnishes the surface into a fine polish. In this way, they are transformed into culturally significant artifacts. Each list reveals individual characteristics about its anonymous writer. Some are neat, others are messy. While many of them list food items, some are statements of intention: “Get colored yarn. Only wool, no acrylic,” “earn the resources to finish house and pay off debt,” or “Lunch, check-in, nap, movie, dinner, drinks, sex, breakfast.” One particular list even has corrected spelling. Unlike more public documents, these bits of scrap paper exhibit inventories that were never intended for anyone but the writer. By monumentalizing this mundane activity, Herman shows us a raw and unrefined version of our own transient objectives.

Adriane Herman’s recent solo shows include the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita, Kansas and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, Maine. She has been included in group shows at the International Print Center in New York City, Adam Baumgold Gallery in NYC, Lump Gallery in North Carolina, the Portland Museum of Art in Maine and the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington, DC, among several others. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, Adobe Systems in San Francisco, Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, the Herbert F Johnson Museum of American Art in Ithaca, New York, the Progressive Corporation in Cleveland, and several other collections. Herman lives and works in Portland, Maine. See her work here.


In Gallery 2, Western Exhibitions presents three new prints by gallery artists, Adriane Herman, Miller & Shellabarger and John Neff produced at the printmaking studio Fresh Hot Press in Madison, Wisconsin. Fresh Hot Press publishes small editions and unique prints in collaboration with visiting artists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Art Department. During the fall semester of 2008, Fresh Hot Press invited these three alumni of the UW Art Department to print editions, in conjunction with Western Exhibition’s show at The Project Lodge in Madison. Adriane Herman, Miller & Shellabarger, and John Neff each brought unique conceptual approaches to printmaking, but interestingly, all three produced work with a distinct concern for subtleties in the print’s surface. Each piece encourages an intimate experience of its topography and an appreciation of the inimitable qualities of a hand-pulled print.

Adriane Herman’s print, “Necco Census No. 1: Scratch-Off, Scratch 'N Sniff Alignment”, a silkscreen with hand cutting and perforation, is literally a scratch 'n sniff piece printed from a solution that matched the fragrances of Necco wafer’s eight flavors mixed in same proportion as they appeared in the pack. This print was featured in the exhibition “New Prints 2008/Autumn” at the International Print Center New York.
She also made the prints "Checklist" and "Checklist Deluxe" at Fresh Hot Press, re-producing a list she found at the Maine College of Art made by a beginning art student, a list of all the things one needs to include in order to make good art. Herman figured if she made a print from it, it would automatically be good art since it inherently contains all the items on the list.

Miller & Shellabarger
have embossed a silhouette of themselves with their beards tied together to make their striking, black-on-black untitled print. This piece is a continuation of their Conjoined Silhouette series, which typically take the form of black cut paper silhouettes mounted on white paper. This body of work was mostly recently seen in a solo presentation by Western Exhibitions at the NADA Art Fair in Miami this December.

John Neff’s screenprint, “Vexations”, representing the score of Erik Satie’s infamous 20-plus hour piano composition “Vexations”, has 840 layers of ink on the paper’s surface. “Vexations”, as conceived by Satie, is a short chordal passage and a bass line which is repeated twice in each repetition of the piece, to be repeated 840 times, thus Neff’s correlation of 840 layers of ink. Western Exhibitions will also show this print as part of its solo presentation of Neff’s work at The Armory Show in New York City in March.

Fresh Hot Press is the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s student-run print club dedicated to promoting student, faculty, and community involvement in all forms of print media. In addition to organizing exhibitions of student work, they regularly host and print editions with regional and national artists. They not only aim to maintain UW’s involvement in the national printmaking community, but to share resources and generate interest in print media at a local level.