Prints, mini-exhibits on display

Printmakers Studio program yields diversity of results

A group of enterprising artists founded the Atlanta Printmakers Studio three years ago to give artists access to the space-eating expensive equipment the medium requires. As the cooperative has grown, so have its efforts to promote and nurture the medium. This year the studio inaugurated its Emerging Artists Residency program, and the resulting artworks now on display suggest this new venture’s promise.

The three artists — Atlantans Betsy Medvedosky and Whitney Stansell and New Yorker Jenny Zhang — came to the studio with ideas and materials for proposed projects. They realized them during the four-month residency with the help of mentors and new methods they learned there.

It’s a diverse group. Medvedosky made a meditative book about a stretch of the Atlanta Beltline. It’s printed on old, stiff paper, which complements the mood of the photos and her writings as well as the project’s subtext, time and its passage. Stansell works out characters for a book in progress in the silkscreens on display. They are executed in her ‘50s illustrational style, a deceptively innocent cover for the sometimes dark stories in her paintings, a group of which are currently at the Emily Amy Gallery.

“Juba-Spider,” Zhang’s eight-part monoprint piece, is a ‘zine-style narrative about Juba Kalamka, a bisexual black hip-hop artist in San Francisco. Hanging on wires like a web around the corner of the gallery, the multi-part monoprint is part of her series “Men are like Fascinating Insects,” which examines and subverts assumptions about male behavior and personae.

Kalamka is her mission incarnate: a burly gay man who works in the homophobic hip-hop world. Zhang tells the story of his tender encounter with a spider and explores the metaphorical connections between man and insect with an exuberant mash-up of words and images. The flip, offhand look she cultivates belies the research, effort and do-good impulse behind her work.

Through Aug. 1. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Thursdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. Atlanta Printmakers Studio. 675 Metropolitan Parkway S.W., No. 6026. (Not well-marked; bring address with you.) No phone; info@atlantaprintmakersstudio.org. www.atlantaprintmakersstudio.org.

Works of varied styles featured at Emily Amy Gallery

Emily Amy Gallery features mini-exhibits of six diverse metro Atlanta artists in her spacious Westside gallery. Here a couple who caught my interest:

Zuzka Vaclavik is an accomplished realist moving out of her comfort zone. It’s a double irony that Vaclavik abandoned the figure and found inspiration in graffiti in the Renaissance heartland. A stint at the University of Georgia’s program in Cortona, Italy, inspired the energetic abstract drawings on view here.

In contrast to her earlier work, “STR” is a dense of hard-edged shapes in which large planes of color abut dense passages of patterns, lettering and collage. A group of looser, sparer drawings punctuated with moments of close-knit shapes suggest another promising path. The paintings on paper feel like they want to be larger paintings, but it’s cool to be catching an artist at the moment of taking a new direction.

The animals that populate Meta Gary’s dreams are the protagonists of the intriguing paintings of her “Astral Menagerie” series. She invests many of them with human traits, which symbolizes an animism she associates with shamans in primitive cultures, though they seem more like characters out of fairy tale and myth.

Gary commingles crisp silhouettes with graphite drawing, painting of almost pastel softness, stencils and broad passages of color that emulate the paint-by-numbers aesthetic or au courant animation style.

The blocks of wood on which she deploys these various techniques add texture and warmth and another layer of unreality.

This formal approach is not uncommon (nor is the shaman; see Shana Robbins’ painting at Marcia Wood Gallery), but the UGA grad does it well. She orchestrates seemingly unrelated images into visually coherent compositions.

“These are the ones who have found you,” for instance, includes a herd of stenciled dinosaurs, and an anthropomorphic rabbit sitting in a tree. A flock of birds escapes from a bird cage that couldn’t have possibly held them all. Somehow the ship with billowy white sails that float in the background knits these oddments together into a very satisfying enigma.

Through Aug. 26. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays. Emily Amy Gallery. 1000 Marietta St., Ste. 208. 404-877-5626. www.emilyamygallery.com.

Catherine Fox blogs about art and architecture at www.ArtscriticATL.com.