BAY HALLOWELL WORKS AT THE JUNCTURE OF TEXT, GRAPHIC DESIGN AND MANIPULATIONS
IN THE MARGINS, IN HER FAULKNER SHOW ‘MARGINALIA’
By Josef Woodard
Photos by Wayne McCall
Bay Hallowell often seems to surf around available and accidental influences
and idea-triggers, which may give rise to a new series of expressions. Such is the case in her deceptively simple
and enigmatic exhibition called “Marginalia,” now aptly nestled in the cozy
nook of the Faulkner West Gallery at the downtown public library.
that small, long room, the artist can be found experimenting and improvising,
visually mumbling and snooping in the margins of a good idea, shuffling letters
and linguistic meanings, and generally ferreting out the theme of the very word
of the show’s title. Using monoprints
and stencils, collographs and other media, she stacks the letters and reorders
them, scruffs them up, leaves them polished or affects them with sundry
printmaking techniques. But whatever the
variation or accentuation of each piece, “Marginalia” is the word in the
epicenter of this artist’s playful arena.
have long been fascinated by the power of select words and phrases, fodder for
treatments and distortions in a more visual than language-related way. Ed Ruscha has made a career out of painted,
loaded words on canvas, and Jim Dine has found himself in love (ironically and
otherwise) with the word—and heart-shaped symbol for—“love.” Deeper in art history, Bauhaus design notions
explored the expressive potential of letters and Kurt Schwitters and other
Dadaists and deconstructionist types have latched onto language for reuse and
recycling in their artistic language.
this case, Ms. Hallowell has a ripe word to mess around with, as visual putty,
having to do with the digressionistic scribblings in the
margins of a text, or the quality of that which is presumably “marginal,” but
possibly a case of profundity in the periphery.
virtue of the artist honing in on a very specific thematic target for her
“variations on a theme” series, the word itself becomes a hypnotic blur. Following the progression and sequence of
pieces, especially in those numbered 1 to 16, we intuitively sense a kind of
quasi-narrative flow, through the investigations and reinventions. No. 10 has a dreamy, liquid-y overlay, while
12 finds the letters subjected to a mad scramble and fragmentation effect,
rendered nearly illegible except as pure design, and 16 pits the word—in an
early 20th century, Art Deco font—sandwiched between a warm
yellow-orange-green foundation and the random ratatat of black dot-splatters on
Other later variations
continue the process of plumbing expressive possibilities within the artist’s
self-limited source. In a few pieces,
commercial letters are placed in a hip pattern with a shambling, tumbling charm
a la Mr. Schwitters’ “Merz” aesthetic.
As if capping off the series with a ghostly echo of a finale,
“Marginalia Trace 1, 2, 3” consists of the hand-scrawled word in positive and
negative forms, suggesting a palimpsest-like hint of archeological enigma. Marginalia rarely seemed so centered, and
Bay Hallowell is pleased to announce an exhibition of her work,
titled MARGINALIA: Recent Prints,
in the West Gallery of the Santa Barbara Public Library during the month of July.
You are invited to attend a 1st Thursday reception on July 3, from 5 to 8:00 PM.
This series of unique monoprints was inspired by her unexpected encounter with the word “marginalia,” the title of an essay by Glenn Adamson in The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making Their World, an exhibition catalog published by the Pennsylvania Academy of Art in Philadelphia. Throughout a year of printmaking, Hallowell created more than twenty dynamic, multi-layered abstractions of this word using stencil, collograph, and trace drawing techniques.
She attributes her on-going fascination with words to the sense of pure joy she experienced when she first learned to read. For her, marginalia evolved from its dictionary definition and from Adamson’s metaphorical focus on women artists, to include a wide range of people, places, art objects and values located in the margins--on the edges--of whatever the main “text” was or is.
This new series continues her use of words and letters as a point of departure in making monoprints. In earlier work, she focused on the word “redact” by forming the word itself with pieces of torn masking tape on a plate, then inking the plate in various ways and running it through a press with paper. In 2013, when the Redact prints were exhibited at the Leslie Sacks Gallery in Los Angeles, the gallery’s director, Lee Spiro, commented, “(Hallowell’s) work is a perfect balance of aesthetic and conceptual concerns, not unlike the work of Jasper Johns and Ed Ruscha.”
Her 2011 exhibition at the Santa Barbara Public Library, “Tick Tock (R)Evolutions” consisted of a series of prints based on the phrase, “tick tock.” Critic Josef Woodard observed: “This integrated and evolving series of monoprints brings together fragments of language and semi-abstract imagery, which play off of general ideas of time, clockworks and the cosmos, with nods to proto-Modernist styles such as Orphism and Constructivism. That’s not to say, however, that Hallowell leans excessively on the cerebral or conceptual: it’s all in good, brain-puzzling fun.”
Hallowell exhibits her prints with the Los Angeles Printmaking Society, Santa Barbara Printmakers, Central Coast Printmakers, Inkspots of Ventura, Santa Barbara Art Association, and Goleta Valley Art Association. Her prints are collected on both east and west coasts and were recently featured in the Flat File Project at Jane Deering Gallery.
Formerly a museum educator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA, Hallowell has taught and written extensively about art from many periods and places for diverse audiences. She studied painting, drawing, and art criticism at Bennington College in Vermont and completed her M.A. in education at the University of Pittsburgh. Shortly after moving to Santa Barbara in 2008, she began learning monoprint techniques from Siu and Don Zimmerman in Santa Barbara City College’s Adult Education classes.
Marginalia are scribbles, comments and illuminations in the margins of a book (Wikipedia, 4/28/2014).
I always feel that the margins tell you more than the center of the page ever could.” Marcia Tucker (A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World, University of California Press, 2008, page 1.)
This will be the final exhibition at the LA Print Space, the gallery space of the Los Angeles Printmaking Society. The LA Print Space focused on bringing exceptional contemporary print exhibitions to the Los Angeles public. This show will include 65 prints selected from nearly 240 entries from the national pool of artist members in this venerable print organization. Viewers will be treated to a wide variety of accomplished prints using traditional and non-traditional techniques from letterpress to intaglio, artist books and collage.
Artwork for the show was selected by long-time artist and former instructor at CSULB, Judy Chan. Judy Chan is well known for her mixed media works on paper and represented at numerous galleries and is in the collection of the Long Beach Museum of Art and the Japanese American National Museum.
Looking forward to seeing everyone there!
Artists for the Juried LAPS Membership Exhibition 2014:
Florence Alfano McEwin(Featured artist on this mail flier),
Christina Altfeld, Dorothy Anderson, Cynthia Back,
Janet Ballweg, Carlos Barberena, Shirley Bernstein,