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A Brighter Outlook : Prints by artists from the Northwest, on view at Pierce College, reflect an existence that is less plagued by difficulty than life in Los Angeles.

March 26, 1993|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly about art for The Times

While advanced technology has thrust us into an increasingly homogenized global community, we still are influenced by local cus toms, events and landscapes.

The recent work of many Los Angeles-area artists reflects the anxiety of living in an urban area plagued by social, environmental and economic problems. The prints on view at Pierce College's Art Gallery by members of the Northwest Print Council clearly come out of a different milieu.

Many of the 43 images selected by the council from more than 800 prints in its collection convey "the beauty of life, like genre painting that explores the small joys" of living, said Joan Kahn, the gallery's director. Even those that delve into darker themes lack the "raunchy edge of Los Angeles art brought on by the difficulty of living here," she added.

Founded in 1981 in Portland, Ore., the council includes about 130 artist members from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Dedicated to promoting printmaking through public education, exhibitions and workshops, the organization has sent the prints to Pierce College as part of an exchange exhibit with the Los Angeles Printmaking Society. The Los Angeles group will send a show of work by its members to Oregon in the fall.

"We've done a lot of exchanges, and we'd heard that the Northwest Print Council was a strong printmaking group," said Sheila Newmark, exhibitions coordinator for the Los Angeles Printmaking Society.

She and fellow society members Jean Burg and Renee Amitai worked with Kahn to organize the show, sponsored here by the Pierce College Associated Student Organization.

"The whole show is being shared with us because of the amount of work these women were willing to do," Kahn said.

Unlike the Northwest Print Council, which has a paid staff member and an office, the L. A. society has been functioning on an all-volunteer basis without an office for 30 years.

"They are really well-organized," said Newmark about the Oregon group. "They jury people into their organization and keep prints on file. They've got the work right there, a wide variety of things."

Kahn said the prints on display represent the work of "mature artists who have their own style. The images are so diverse and interesting. For an art student, this is wondrous. Students have been particularly interested in this show because of the variety of printmaking techniques being shown. They want to know how things are done."

David Mollett used the woodcut process to make the boldly designed and colorful "Arboretum," his lovely, stylized vision of the trees indigenous to the Northwest.

Jack McLarty presents an array of vivacious images in his hand-colored woodcut, "The Doll Collector."

Darleen Masiak's flowing black line forms are all that is necessary to depict a "Tumbling Waterfall."

Hanne Greaver treats us to a mouthwatering "Summer Plate" of strawberries in her lithograph. Emily Barronian's small, finely detailed wood engraving, "Anticipation of Spring," conveys a centuries-old feeling in its style and its bountiful image.

Among the more weighty prints is Karen Kessler's etching, "Side Door," a somewhat melancholy but appealing composition of two women sitting by the side of a building. The stillness of the image evokes curiosity about where the building is, what's in it and why those women are sitting there.

"Freeway Bridge From Gasworks," a woodcut cityscape by Ed Aites, illustrates the mixing of industry with leisure. Below the bridge, sailboats stand together and people enjoy themselves at water's edge.

But one gets the feeling that these waters are nowhere to frolic.

Gregory Grenon's lithograph "No One Knows Me" and Jim Mattingly's drypoint "Print 82" present compelling portraits of people who seem to be hiding a good deal behind their facades.

WHERE AND WHEN

What: "Northwest Print Council: Fine Art, Original Prints by Member Artists."

Location: Pierce College Art Gallery, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, through April 22.

Call: (818) 719-6498.

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