Cut, Color and Clarity Most Excellent
By Tom Wachunas
Exhibit: Printmaker’s Paradise – The work of Bobby Rosenstock, presented by Translations Art Gallery at Julz by Alan Rodriguez, 220 Market Avenue N., downtown Canton, THROUGH February 28, Tuesdays-Fridays 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Canton art lovers have seen works by printmaker Bobby Rosenstock featured in past group shows at Translations Art Gallery. This show, however, launches Translations as a roaming presenter, or “mobile, pop-up entity,” as curator Craig Joseph called it when he announced plans to vacate his Cleveland Avenue location. So this time around, Rosentock’s woodcut prints are mounted in a wholly alternative setting – Julz by Alan Rodriguez, a world class jewelry store in downtown Canton.
While this site does have its limitations as an exhibition space when compared to more traditional, airy galleries (though it has been a Canton arts district exhibitor of original wall art for about eight years), Rosenstock’s extraordinary stylizations seem nonetheless right at home in this context. They suggest to me a symbolic kinship with the powerful appeal of diamonds.
Cut, color, and clarity. Just as these elements are combined to craft exquisite diamonds, so too Rosenstock has mastered a centuries-old methodology to produce his images. They’re all the more savory when considering the meticulous, demanding nature of the relief printmaking process, so named for the uncarved surface of the woodblock – the surface in relief – that gets inked. The process is not a “right-reading” one. It requires backward thinking, so to speak - seeing in reverse. The artist must duplicate the original drawing/design by carving or cutting its mirror image into the woodblock. And usually, for every color we see in the finished print, a separate block was made.
Whether in music posters, whimsical portraits or fantastical scenes, Rosenstock’s aesthetic is imbued with the patina of other eras, recalling vintage book illustrations and sometimes, as in his renderings of Dante’s Inferno, medieval manuscript illuminations (sans gold leaf). He articulates his figures and textures with impeccable precision while maintaining a remarkable fluidity of line, and his deftly balanced palette of softened hues often evokes a spirit of enchantment.
Like elegantly sculpted diamonds, these images are gems of pictorial allure.
PHOTOS, from top: Unfathomable Tangle; Battle of the Beasts; Dante 3; Noodler; Wondrous Wonder