FIRE BARN GALLERY

RANDY SMITH - VISUAL CHOREOGRAPHER

Opens Thursday Aug 2nd, 6 - 9pm

at the Fire Barn Gallery (18 North 5th)
With gallery talk by the artist

Silkscreen, also known as serigraphy, is the process of creating images by pressing ink through a screen stencil onto a surface. Screen printing has been around for thousands of years, but it became popular as a medium for fine art in the 20th century.

Randy Smith, owner of Grand Haven's Michigan Rag and Marushka, is one of the most well-recognized silkscreen printers in the field. His former business partner, the late Richard Sweet, left his position as art teacher at Grand Haven Area Public Schools to found Marushka in 1971. Randy was Richard's student at the time. He began working for Richard soon after graduating, helping to sell the hand-made silkscreen prints and eventually becoming a partner in the business in 1985 when they opened Michigan Rag. Nearly 1.7 million Marushka prints were sold worldwide between 1974 and 1989.

Several artists created designs for Marushka and Michigan Rag throughout the years. A massive archive of these designs is still drawn from to create new images. Randy identifies himself with the term "conductor", someone who is not necessarily the creator of the music but is credited with the performance through its arrangement.

"He uses existing images as if they were marks." says gallery director Chris Protas, "He composes with several images to create a single new image, one that has its own feel, distinct from the individual parts. In this way I see him as a composer as well as a conductor."

This recycling of imagery recalls the work of the two modern artists Randy regards most highly: Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Both were pioneers in the art of silkscreen, helping to position it as a fine art form.

Many of the pieces on display were created just for this exhibit.

The show opens Thursday August 2nd, 6-9pm with complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres. The artist will give a gallery talk on his work at 7pm.

Works will be on display Aug 3 - Aug 18, Wed, Fri and Sat, 12-6.