Tinted Love

The subject matter of Highpoint Center for Printmaking‘s new set of mezzotints, debuting this weekend, won’t suck you in. It’s not supposed to. That’s because it’s all about the cut. And Canadian artist Laine Groeneweg carves up his printing plates like a cartographer detailing a coastline: with mapmaker precision, his shadings a registry of the near infinite gradations as darkness creeps toward light. His mezzotints hug the contours of shadow itself.

Courtesy Open Studio

So it’s a little disappointing that his prints are basically forgettable, fictional portraits of kids. Groeneweg’s thing is to pose boys in ways that suggest their ambitions in life. This guy here, in the Red Baron get-up, wants to be a pilot. Fine.

But the image itself blooms out of a dark abyss. The velvety black margins suggest the inky fade-ups of a silent movie, and yet the light, when we do get some, is crisp and disciplined. Just dig the sheen on this guy’s boots. Hard to imagine scratching such sophisticated tonal shifts into a metal plate. But that’s printmaking for you; you get most of your points for process.

The Highpoint show isn’t limited to Groeneweg (he’s just the only artist with an image in the press material), and the whole thing is a bit of a Canadian invasion. The Uptown print center invited its Toronto counterpart, Open Studio, Canada’s leading fine-art printmaking studio, to cross the border with some top-notch Canuck talent. Open Studio executive director Jennifer Bhogal curates, bringing four printmakers to town: Groeneweg, Jennie Sudick, Shannon Gerard, and Daryl Vocat. Subjects range, on preview, from Boy Scouts and masculinity to Big Foot and matchstick model kits.

Should be nice to see how these Northern artists work. And here’s hoping to see more visitors in the future.

“Playing with the Dark”
Opening reception Friday, October 26
6:30 p.m.
Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W. Lake St., Mpls.