Kevin's printmaking, including his last collaboration with Pepe Coronado

by Robin Moore

I loved this article in the Washington Print Club's quarterly magazine and I wanted to talk a little more about some of the prints Kevin created and in particular, the last print edition he planned with Pepe Coronado.

First, I was always dazzled that Kevin had hand-drawn the CMYK (cyan-magenta-yellow-black) printing plates for "Lewes," an artists' book that he produced in the 1980's at Pyramid Atlantic and then at the Writer's Center in Bethesda (the press was moved during the project). This was a chance to produce something using real color printing… slick and expensive, with less of a "hand" feel than the beautiful lithographs he had produced with Scip Barnhart over the years.

Because the plates were hand drawn, Kevin never knew exactly what the final prints would look like. He created meticulous mechanicals and sketches to be sure every millimeter would line up correctly -- and all in the pre-digital era. The finished "Lewes" book is a brief but patient meditation on a week's worth of quiet domestic images. I knew this book from my work at the WPA bookstore, Bookworks, one of a handful of shops that sold artist produced books, and I loved it -- and this was before I had even met him. Because I was a print buyer for many years after that, "Lewes" always held a special place for me among all his work.

Kevin loved working with Pepe on "Suburban Apotheosis" (2000, ed. 32) and "Memoria Suburbiae" (2005, ed. 20), the two silkscreen prints. Again, part of what makes those so lovely is the intense care the two men took as they engineered each layer (of largely transparent inks -- unusual for silkscreen editions) and built the image, especially the looming dark areas. "Memoria Suburbiae"'s release party was during his recuperation from a cancer surgery and I think of it as one of his final statements, although there were several others.

During the production of "Memoria," Pepe moved up to New York, but they had already put some time into making the final, very small print shown here. The edition was never printed, just the test prints. Again, this involved slow build up of color using hand-drawn plates, only unlike the other two, this one used digital scanning as an intermediary and (I believe) was designed for a common inkjet printer.

It always surprised me that great experimentation could produce work that was "normal looking" and occasionally (at least in the case of "Lewes") soothing in appearance. But that was Kevin: devoted to his craft, interested in stretching things just a bit, and committed to his result.

As time goes by, I'll use this blog to share my other thoughts and experiences with Kevin's work and process. For now… what a tiny treasure this print would have been. Thank you, Jenny Freestone, for reminding me of it, and thank you Pepe, for sending the "states" and for all the time you put into the collaboration.


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