For an artist like Stephen Rock, the Contemporary Printmakers show at the Seattle Art Museum Gallery exemplifies not only how artists are blending their genres, but also the media they combine to achieve their finished work and the many processes they could use to get there.
Many of today’s artists, he says, embrace the digital work within the computer as well as traditional processes. “It’s a really good time to be talking about digital output; we’re all using material and devices that are pushing contemporary artist voices into new possibilities,” he says. “You’re not just a photographer any more. You’re not just a painter anymore. So few people are sticking with one title.”
Rock, himself, blends digital work with painting and drawing as well as sculpting. His recent work that was featured in the SAM Gallery blends pigmented prints on watercolor or rag paper and collage elements. His paper of choice: LexJet’s Sunset Matte Rag.
“I was introduced to it when my LexJet rep donated a roll for our Center on Contemporary Art Change-Seed exhibit, featuring underground Chinese artists,” he says. “It was enough to addict me to Sunset Matte Rag. I really like the tone of it — it gives a warmth to my work.”
The Contemporary Printmakers display was partnered with the Museum’s larger exhibit, Graphic Masters: Dürer, Rembrandt, Hogarth, Goya, Picasso, R. Crumb.
“The director of SAM Gallery, Jodi Bento, decided to invite Northwestern artists who would complement the Graphic Masters,” Rock says. “It was a really cool thing, and dovetailed perfectly with the gallery opening and really gave some context to printmaking.”
With the SAM Gallery, some of Rock’s works of art have sold and others have been rented, which is a service the gallery provides.
“I like it – I really don’t mind people trying out the art before they buy it,” he says. “It shouldn’t be an exclusive thing where you just drop your money and have to live with it. For the artists, if you sell it, that’s great; and if you rent it out, you can still eventually make a sale and come out ahead.”
Rock finishes his collage work with Sunset Gloss Coating to secure all the elements together. Plus, the gloss coating allows him to save on the expense of framing and allows the viewer to get right up close to the artwork, and eliminate the barrier that a glass frame creates.
“People are so interested in your process and ask: How do you do that? There’s at least three if not five ways you can do it,” he says. “You just have to start exploring and find ways to do what you want in the computer that aren’t in a text book or somebody else’s method.”