Thank you for the opportunity to co-curate the Northwest Print Invitational.
The works were selected for a combination of image appeal, composition, and the appropriate and effective use of the medium(s) employed. In the majority of cases, my fellow juror, Romson Bustillo and I agreed on which pieces best combined these considerations. Differences tended to reflect personal preferences rather than examples of unsuccessful aesthetic decisions or an inability to satisfy technical requirements of a given process. In some instances, any of the artist's three submissions could have been accepted. Other artists abandoned consistency and chose to offer pieces rendered in each of the different mediums and subject areas in which they currently work.
The show as a whole affects a welcome range of subjects and means expression. Thankfully, for my particular bias, the direct mark making of the artist was favored over digital contributions. In some instances, artists known to prefer to work on a larger scale were successful in selectively compressing their usual number of image elements. There were very few artists who submitted to a common response to the required restricted format by offering what the viewer might consider just a detail of their usual larger images.
I am pleased with the works selected, and am grateful for the chance to see the sample of what is currently going on in the Northwest print community. Many thanks to the artists, to Romson, and to Seattle Print Arts for making this exhibition possible.
Romson Regarde Bustillo
The Contemporary Northwest Print Invitational welcomed submissions from a regional landscape that cultivates both traditional and emerging ideas of what printmaking is, contemporary and otherwise. The totality of the submissions and resulting jurying includes territories and visions that differ, border, transition, align, and overlap for artists and for the two jurists, Sam Davidson and myself.
How does one weigh hierarchies, be they founded on aesthetics, technique, material, or subject matter within such a varied “topography”? What is it that pushes certain artists to create less concerned with accolades and established standards? Where is the place for submitting or jurying recognizing that we have these deep, near unexplainable encounters with art works; our own and that of others.
The answers are not in this invitational, rather they live in the potential dialogue between artists, those exhibited here and those not, and viewers. Indeed, technique and complexity had roles in selection. The quality of inking—the application of black in particular—was considered. Composition carried certain pieces more than others. Innovative approaches stood out. More visceral pulls moved other prints forward.
The works were reviewed within the difficult clarity and concurrent realities of existing racial and economic inequities; iterations of discourse regarding systems and structures that perpetuate this; and the fear and isolation framing the COVID19 Pandemic. Certain pieces allowed us to locate a kind of innocence, beauty, and joy amidst the layered conditions of our times; to not succumb to this sustained duress and look even closer.
“Snowy Plover” by Robert Drucker, “Chaos” by Moon Lee, and “Hawaiian Hollywood” by Jane Richlovsky are examples of pieces that captured the “gut” feeling for me. They are successful and challenging in specific ways, but it is the pull, approaching romance, that guides us to reflection and beauty that held my attention most.
—Romson Regarde Bustillo