To depict one’s deceased mother as a skeleton might be considered irreverent, but Rachel Winn Yon means no disrespect. Her three-plate color etching, “Family Legends: My Mother, in Death as in Life,” shows an energetic skeleton harvesting beets in a garden.
“It just kind of came to me in a dream state,” said Yon, adding with a laugh, “No one in my family has seen it yet. I wonder what their reaction will be.”
The reaction of the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, the former SLO Art Center, was to select her etching for the inaugural Purchase Award for its permanent collection.
For this printmakers show, “Legends,” Yon also took the Blue Ribbon for “Family Legends: My Father, His Animals.”
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Here she plays with Marc Chagall images: a huge red chicken is the dominant figure, along with dancing pigs and a floating cow, udders up, in the madcap barnyard scene that depicts her father’s farm animals on the loose. The frequent escapes were a result of her father’s jerry-rigging.
“He was kind of a Rube Goldberg,” according to family stories, she said.
Yon left the South Carolina farm to pursue art many years ago. During her four decades as a printmaker, she has observed many changes in techniques.
“Mono prints were not allowed then,” she said, “and of course, digital prints have come to the forefront.” She embraces the new technology. “I personally love some of the prints that are digitally enhanced,” Yon said, noting that the medium is only as good as the artist. “It has everything to do with the person manipulating the tool.”
She was passionately absorbed with painting, especially abstract impressionism, after earning her art degree, until a friend suggested she give prints a try. Because Yon is left handed, her brain’s wiring seemed suited for the reverse- type procedures necessary to printmaking, where the positive becomes the negative and the left the right, in a mirror image.
“As a child, I saw everything backwards,” she said.
Anne Herlihy, whose “The Big Boys” depicts portraits of writers who influenced her, noted the mental and technical challenge of such reversals.
Printmaking is time-intensive, according to Robert “Rosey” Rosenthal, who spent a month of 40-hour weeks on each of his etching and aquatints, “Dreamworld: Aesop’s Reverie,” and “Dreamworld Dungeon.”
“They were fun, but they were tricky,” he said. The longtime printmaker said he
Double winner Rachel Winn Yon’s ‘Family Legends: My Father, His Animals’ took first place in the Central Coast Printmakers exhibit.
doesn’t mind this commitment, “’Cause that’s what I do.”
The Central Coast Printmakers’ call for art went out statewide for this juried show. In addition to Yon and Rosenthal, area residents in the exhibit include Joyce Bauerie, Helen M. Davie, Dennis Kehoe, Marianne Nucci and Ybi Van Ekeren.
Print methods include solar etching, linocut reduction, linocut chine colle, woodcuts, intaglio, monotype and photopolymer etching.
Subjects range from the subjective, such as Phil Middleton’s “Interpersonal Supernova with Insight,” to representational, such as Laurie Meinke’s “Naxi Ladies of Lijiong.” Multiple color prints include Brigitte Schubert’s second-place award-winning “Carnival” and Dianne Burkhardt’s honorable mention “Butterfly Migration.”
Black and whites or subdued values include third-place winner’s Deborah Denker’s “Untitled #9.”
Three-dimensional prints include Paul La Riviere’s “Fall from the House of Mime,” an honorable mention.