“The Avocet Portfolio 2023” Exhibition

Bronx River Art Center (BRAC)

poster for “The Avocet Portfolio 2023” Exhibition
[Image: Noah Bean "Galilee Pond with Joe Pye Weed" (1989) screen print, HC 22 x 30 in.]

This event has ended.

Curated by Andrea Callard

Artists: Tomie Arai, Noah Baen, Lisa Bateman, Andrea Callard, Susan Spencer Crowe, Jane Dickson, Conrad Gleber, Betti-Sue Hertz, Carter Hodgkin, Rebecca Howland, Miriam Jacobs, Peter Julian, Darra Keeton, Whitfield Lovell, Sarah Greer Mecklem, Ann Messner, Richard Mock, Peter Nadin, Gail Nathan, Florence Neal, Kingsley Parker, Cara Perlman, Rachael Romero, Christy Rupp, Rand Russell, Clarissa Sligh, Kim Sloane, Kiki Smith, Jolie Stahl, Richard Tobias, Frances Valesco

Bronx River Art Center (BRAC) presents The Avocet Portfolio 2023, an exhibition of fine art screen prints by 31 artists that were produced between 1985 and 1992 at the non-profit cultural organization, Art Awareness, located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains in Lexington, NY. In this pastoral setting artists from New York City worked alongside artists from upstate in a farmhouse barn studio using a new line of nontoxic water-based inks to complete forty-eight editions of screen prints over seven summers. In groups of three or four, the artists mutually supported the production of each print’s edition ranging from 10 to 30 large-scale prints.

These vibrant, and richly layered prints are stylistically diverse. Some take inspiration from the studio’s rural surroundings, depicting fauna, figures and landscapes coexisting. Others explore geometric abstraction or nascent geopolitical concerns. Seen together, the Avocet Portfolio reflects the dynamic exchange of ideas, techniques and innovations central to creative collaboration, an extension of the sensibility of the printshop’s primary organizers, Andrea Callard and Jolie Stahl who were original members of the well-known activist collective, COLAB (Collaborative Projects, Inc.). Known for its DIY exhibitions and multimedia projects COLAB’s most renowned “action” was the “42nd St. Show” produced in Times Square in 1980. Twelve of the members of COLAB were among the 31 participants invited to the Avocet workshop over the seven years of operation. This fertile creative period represents a vital moment in the history of experimental printmaking. Andrea Collard went on to direct the printshop for the subsequent six years of its existence, and to produce this Portfolios, one of which is owned by the New York Public Library.

Screen printmaking has been an initial media of BRAC’s arts offerings, as its process of making multiple copies afforded wide dissemination of the social and environmental mission of our organization throughout the surrounding communities. As BRAC formalized its arts presentation and art education side of its mission, so too did its expertees in printmaking evolve along with ceramics, photography, painting, digital arts, and public art and design. This exhibition renews and refreshes BRAC’s focus on the power of printmaking to make available affordable original art for everyone.

Andrea Callard is an artist working in digital media and on paper. Her early work looked at nature and its soundscape in various locations in New York City. How we live in our landscapes remains a central preoccupation for her. For example, Callard has spent a decade photographing Freshkills Park in Staten Island where, in its previous incarnation as Freshkills Landfill, New York City has dumped its waste for over fifty years before being closed in 2001. In 2008 NYC Parts Department began construction to turn this 2,200 acre parcel of land into a Park, and in 2012 the first phase of the park was opened. Just this October the rest of the 21 acre Phase 1 segment was completed. Turning the whole landmass into a huge city park will take nearly 30 more years.

Callard’s early Super 8mm films and videos were preserved with generous support from the National Film Preservation Fund, New York Women in Film & Television, the Fales Library & Special Collections and the Moving Image Archiving Program (MIAP) at New York University. Galleries, museums, and festivals around the world screened the results. These include Equenas Historias da Vanguarda across Brazil, Downtown NYC, Ambulante across Mexico, DOXA, The Maysles Cinema, The Museum of Modern Art, The Walker Art Center, The 7th and 10th Orphans Film Symposium, and the 56th Oberhausen Short Film Festival among others.

A memory of her early films led to Callard making industrial videos for Green Planet 21, an innovative Western recycling company. From 2008 to 2019, Callard documented and promoted industrial recycling and sustainability initiatives. She produced over 120 industrial videos as well as websites and other digital media for sales and advertising.
In 2013, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in NYC presented the XFR STN, an exhibition for media archiving in public, including members of Collaborative Projects, Inc. (COLAB.) The following fall, with a small group of media archivists, Callard developed an effort that became the XFR Collective, Inc. The XFR Collective lowers the barriers to archiving services for artists and activists at a modest cost. You can watch 400 videos digitized from obsolete formats at https://archive.org/details/xfrcollective

In 1980, Callard organized “The Times Square Show”, a seminal exhibition by COLAB and affiliates. She photographed the show and many publishers including Phaidon Press, The Whitney Museum, Artforum magazine, among others, use them to illustrate the important works of this period in art history.


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