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Evan Summer: Landscapes and Nocturnes

 

Evan Summer, described as a modern-day artist using old world skills, doesn't describe his current exhibit as comfortable landscapes or pictures that emphasize the beauty of nature. He notes that they instead deal with time or change and are dark, moody and foreboding. The structures, which are the only indication of human presence, give the images a sense of time and deterioration. Something has happened in the silent spaces, and that gives them a history and creates a sense of mystery. The natural landscape and the structures each have their own beauty, but in this context they oppose one another.

Evan Summer began his journey into printmaking during college when as a senior he switched his major from chemistry to art. As an upperclassman Summer was expected to take elective courses, including art classes. He opted not to take art history classes because "I wanted to make art, not read about it." From then on, art became Summer's world. (left: Landscape XXXIII, 1998, etching, engraving, drypoint, 10 x 13 1/2 inches)

Evan feels his education as a chemist has helped him in his current field. "A lot of the processes in art involve work that is similar to the laboratory.... And, in printmaking, we use processes like etching, which is acid reacting with metal. Having an understanding of how chemical reactions work and how they are affected by different temperatures... gives me an advantage in the studio." Summer combines not only his background in science in his art, but also his interest in architecture and sculpture. Many of his prints reflect construction sites, environmental sculptures, and unusual panoramas. Growing up in Buffalo, NY, Summer was attracted to the impressive hydroelectric and power plants that dominate the landscape around Niagara Falls. Though inspired by these specific forms, in his imagery he never defines the original nature or function of his constructions, only evoking some long-forgotten need for their presence.

Most of Summer's prints are executed in the traditional technique of etching on copper plates, often with supplemental engraving and drypoint, He frequently uses conventional printmakers' tools such as roulettes, etching needles, scrapers, and burnishers; but he also uses more modern equipment such as flexible shaft tools, sanders and buffing wheels. In some instances aquatint, the tonal process associated with etching, is used to create broad, rich areas of gray and black. The plates are often etched 15 to 20 times and a single plate can take up to a year or more to complete. Multiple prints can be made from each plate, yet each print is its own original, hand-printed on fine paper by the artist, without the assistance of elaborately equipped workshops and technicians. (left: Landscape IV, 1981, etching, engraving, drypoint, 24 x 36 inches)

Summer also works in drawing and collage and these pieces usually involve color. The drawings deal with the same imagery as the prints and in some cases are studies for prints. They are generally started with pencil and further developed with pastel. Summer's collages evolved from his collagraph plates. Collagraphy is a modern intaglio printmaking process involving the attaching of textural materials to a supporting plate or board to create a surface that can be inked and printed with pressure onto a sheet of paper. He then began to add graphite, pastel, powdered pigment and acrylic to this process. The results are large and relatively colorful collages which further develop the ideas of his prints. (left: Fire Storm, 1998, collage with pencil, pastel, powdered pigment and acrylic, 39 x 49 inches)

Several geometric and vegetable images are included in this exhibition, which continues through June 17, 2001. In some instances the geometric images are studies for forms within the landscapes. But as singular, isolated forms they emphasize perfection and imperfection, order and disorder. The vegetables, like the landscapes, embody time, change and deterioration. As a group, these works manifest a dark fantasy, a melancholy dream somewhere between remembering and foreboding. (left: Untitled, 1995, collage with graphite, pastel and acrylic, 64 x 45 inches)

Evan Summer lives in Wyomissing, PA with his wife and four children and has taught printmaking for 14 years at Kutztown University. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the State University of New York at Buffalo and his Master's degree in printmaking at Yale University. He is represented in many distinguished collections including the National Gallery of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and has had a number of solo exhibitions including an exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. at the end of 1999. He is the recipient of numerous printmaking awards and prizes, and is a member of the National Academy of Design, where he was awarded the 1999 Leo Meissner Prize for printmaking.

 

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