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  • Writer's pictureApril Gavin


Yesterday, I entered an art contest hosted by the Manhattan Graphics Center. This is the fifth year they are hosting a miniature print exhibition. The paper size was unrestricted, but the printed image could be no larger than nine square inches. There are many mathematical configurations for nine square inches: 3"x3' is obvious, but 2"x4.5", 2.25"x4", 1"x9", 1.5"x6" also work. Naturally, I had to attempt the non-obvious ones.

Covenant (2"x4.5") was my first attempt and I took great care in naming this work. With the ongoing war in Ukraine, my first thought was the white feather as a symbol of peace or truce. Merriam-Webster came in handy for synonyms. Covenant struck me as a powerful and important word.

Viceroy (2.25"x4") is two different print methods in a tiny space. The under layer is a monotype. I scouted the garden for a plant with small leaves to create the background. The caterpillar is a block print and was a joy to carve. The Viceroy is often mistaken for the Monarch. The caterpillars look different, but the mature butterflies look very similar. Check here so you can distinguish the two.

Ripple (3"x3") is the obvious configuration for nine square inches so I had to try it. I was inspired by a three minute mediation conducted by Thich Nhat Hahn. I perform this mediation when processing or coping with new information. The pebble breaks the surface of the water like a new thought entering the mind. We notice the superficial change in the water, but underneath the surface the pebble is traveling and will eventually find its place as new thoughts find a place in your own mind.

Phoebe (1.5"x6") was a pet chicken who gave me many years of joy and left behind tons of feathers. The format worked and it took me a few tries to capture her color. She was more russet, but I like how this version came out. Check out my video Bedtime for Chickens.

Ok, so this left me with a conundrum. I could only enter three pieces into the contest. It took some deciding, but Ripple, Viceroy, and Phoebe were my choices. I will save Covenant for a different exhibition. Wish me luck that the juror likes one of these enough to include in the exhibition.

Currently, I have work on view in two places. Last month, I entered a print-making contest in Barcelona. My work was not short-listed for the trip to Barcelona, but Verdant Heart is on the participants page here. Coyote Flings the Stars is currently included in the It's Ok to Laugh exhibition at the O'Hanlon Center for the Arts. I was thrilled to have juror M. Louise Stanley include this work.

If you have a chance, the Contemporary Jewish Museum has two exhibitions worth seeing. Tikkun: For the Cosmos, the Community, and Ourselves includes my mentor Lisa Kokin. They also have a Jim Henson exhibition in their upstairs gallery. I am the Sesame Street/Muppet Show generation and very proud of that.

Jhene Canody will be performing a one-woman recitation of The Yellow Wallpaper at the Monkey House here in Berkeley Monday nights in May. Charlotte Perkins-Gilman published this as a magazine piece in the late 19th century. She might be the first, modern feminist and her writing today is still as relevant.

Only one more deadline and one more audit to go (sounds like a Johnny Cash song) before I can relax my work schedule and spend more time making art.

Don't forget open studios over two weekends: June 4th and 5th and June 11th and 12th. There will be original art for sale and a gallery of work.


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