Time Elastic: Bellamy Printz at Foothill Galleries
Time Elastic is the exhibition of almost twenty print and mixed media works on paper by Bellamy Printz currently on view at the Foothill Galleries of the Photo Succession in Cleveland Heights. The work is based on the artist’s mining of her family’s photographs—a rich part of her heritage– an effort to collapse the time span between generations into an intimate moment. Overall, the show summons the psychological valence produced by active reflection. By studying, arranging, selecting and printing from her family’s visual history, Printz reshapes and reinvigorates her relationship to her past.
An only child of two only children, Printz was raised New York City in an artistic household geared to the creative life afforded by this cultural center. Through her process, which she considers personal archaeological excavation– we understand the artist gazing at her parents who are in turn gazing at their daughter in several images. Most of the works are based on photographs made in New York– exterior scenes of Central Park as well as several interiors and still life compositions–while other images depict idyllic European holidays. What rises to the top however are the strong emotions produced by the artist’s process, given powerful voice through the highly skilled handling of print techniques displayed in these unique works on paper.
Printz, one of the founders of Zygote Press, is an experienced printmaker and teacher. She has had fruitful experience in the past making etchings and monoprints using the same rich cache of family photographs. For this viewer, the current show is absolutely a breakthrough moment for the artist, who has added Photoshop and digital printing to her arsenal of tools, which result in freeing of technique and presentation, of layering and merging of inks, paper surfaces and mark-making revealing a confident experimentation in works of great variety.
We experience the works as if they are chapters in a slim memoir, groups of images gathered like musical phrases on the walls. Specific phrasing includes a crowd scene centered on the Delacorte Clock at the Central Park Children’s Zoo, anchoring several smaller works of enlarged details from the main image.* Viewers can trace the artist’s thought process as she manipulates a “straight” photographic image—the crowd scene—into more painterly, and therefore more personal detail of a young girl (a stand in for the artist?), her face obscured by an opaque raspberry colored balloon. Autobiography is clearer in another image of the artist sitting in her mother’s lap who leans against a pillar on a dock, her head suffused by scumbled black marks which telegraph the distance of time and place.
The exhibition demonstrates Printz’s mastery of her tools as well as her art history. She has harnessed the modern conveniences of digital photography and plastic Yupo paper to the post-Impressionist flattened planes and fragmented vision of modern urban life. She has absorbed lessons of Georges Seurat’s landscape sketches, Pierre Bonnard’s hothouse interiors, and Edgar Degas’ magnificent monotypes over photographic prints, all in the service of her own story.
Bellamy Printz will give an artist talk at 2 pm April 5. Time Elastic is on view at Foothill Galleries of the Photo Succession through April 20. To reduce the spread of Covid 19, Foothill Galleries is open by appointment only.