March 31, 2021
The 41st National Print Exhibition has put Artlink on the map with print artists around the country.
Given that Artlink opened in 1979, annual exhibits like that represent the history of Artlink as well as providing fresh works each year. This year’s event, despite some continued restrictions, has moved along fairly normally, a welcome change from 2020.
NO Problem Getting Submissions
“Last year we were closed the week we were starting to get things coming in,” said Lynette Scott, executive director of Artlink. “There were 30 works in transit, so I was calling different shippers to ask them to hold our packages, and then I was going out and picking things up.”
Fortunately, with its history, Artlink has no problem getting submissions for the exhibit and has a process for choosing which ones will be featured.
“We put out the call about six months in advance,” Scott said. “We give them a deadline, a certain date when we have to see them all. Then we have a juror to make the decision about which to include. It’s a blind juried process so we remove names or places or any identifying information so the decision is fair to everyone. This year we have Ruth Lingen as our juror. She’s an artist out of New York.”
As word of this exhibition has spread, Artlink is now approached by artists about submitting rather than having to drum up interest. This year the exhibit will feature 63 works from 60 artists who represent 27 states.
“Artlink is now recognized for having this every year,” Scott said. “Printmakers look for our call for submissions. There are a lot of different techniques, and a lot of printers sent in works this year.”
Artlink describes the diversity of printmaking represented by the exhibit on their website.
“This juried exhibition will feature contemporary printmakers working in all printmaking mediums, including intaglio, lithography, relief, screen printing, monoprints, letterpress, artist books, digital prints, and print installations.”
Several of the techniques, such as lithography, letterpress, and digital prints, are relatively familiar to casual fans, but there are a few techniques which may be somewhat outside the daily experience of some new to the art, such as intaglio and relief printing.
Ready for the Installation
As soon as the previous exhibit came down, Artlink closed for almost two weeks to get the prints and installations up and ready for visitors.
The exhibit opens on Thursday, April 1, when the gallery will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. There will be no opening reception.
From then until the close of the exhibit on May 2, gallery hours will be Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sundays noon until 5 p.m. All precautions continue for those who wish to visit.
“We ask for people to wear masks and practice social distancing, and we keep hand sanitizers for people to use,” Scott said. “Otherwise we try to operate as normally as possible, and we never meet or exceed capacity limits.”
There remain online options for those who wish to view and even purchase the pieces, something new since the pandemic. It’s a temporary solution that might take root long term.
“We had never done online tours or sales before the lockdown,” Scott said. “But now we find a lot of people, even people out of state, like to visit and purchase pieces. Print pieces have become such a rage, and it’s perfect for someone who is a first-time collector because it tends to be more affordable than paintings.”
Coming up at Artlink is the 43rd Members’ Showcase (June 17-July 18) as well as another powerful exhibit with a message, an installation by Illinois artist Rita Grendze which addresses issues of hunger and food insecurity.
There’s plenty to encourage people to get back out and enjoy the arts, particularly in a setting where touching is generally frowned upon under even normal conditions.
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