Building and Subtracting – A Retrospective of Prints by Laurence Channing
Laurence Channing had his first one-person show in 1991 at the William Busta Gallery on Murray Hill Road, Cleveland. His charcoal drawings, at once romantic and elegant and disquieting, found an audience in exhibitions that followed in 1992, 1994, and 1995. In 1997 he also presented prints—three drypoints and a lithograph. In the next few years he created five additional prints, one of which was the annual publication of the Print Club of Cleveland, a supporting organization of Cleveland Museum of Art. In 2011 he created War in Heaven, a meditation on the attack on America of September 11, 2001. On the occasion of this exhibition—the first to present all of Channing’s prints—William Busta Projects is publishing a new etching, Bridge Ghost.
Channings’ drypoints and etchings have taken on a life of their own. Working with Bellamy Printz and Kelly Novak at Cleveland’s Zygote Press, Channing made small-scale gems that have a vitality and immediacy that is evident in his larger drawings. However, the compactness of these images distinguishes them from the drawings in how they are composed and printed, according to Channing’s direction. The earliest prints are tiny summaries of larger drawings, condensed into a small space. The difference here is that the gesture of the making is physically different, and so the hand of the artist is clearly evident.
The newest print, a soft-ground etching, is very much about drawing while using the intaglio process. Created at Deep Dive Art Projects with Bellamy Printz, it was an experiment in techniques, making up a way of teasing the image out of the laid paper that was an important element in Channing’s original drawing. The process took several tries. Like developing a photograph in steps, the artist and printmaker needed to make the plate darker and darker until it was time to stop etching. “The new work is closer to the drawings than any of the other prints,” says Channing, “building and subtracting. It is more about looking for the abstractions—a powerful structure that is latent in one’s experience of the world.”
Channing leaves us with a sense of timelessness in his works. He reminds us that, as an artist, when you pick up a brush, a pencil, or an etching needle, you are picking up the tool that your predecessors have left for you to use. “I am going to respond to what they did. There is no way not to. But looking for a way to make an image that will give me the same pleasure that I get from looking at the older work—so not an imitation or adaptation—but looking for the same kick.”
WILLIAM BUSTA PROJECTS
15517 Waterloo Road, #2 Upstairs
Cleveland, Ohio 44110
For this show, gallery hours are Thursday, Friday, Saturday 11am-5pm and by appointment.
Building and Subtracting – A Retrospective of Prints by Laurence Channing, September 30–November 5