Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jul 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Cutting Edge

artfile printBridget Heny’s printmaking metaphysics

Madonnas and hangmen, lilies and hunters, drowning maidens and con artists—such archetypal imagery saturates the woodcut prints made by Bridget Henry. Her themes seem channeled from dreams. Or inspired by the coastal setting of her studio. A loose collection of vintage buildings, Campo Verde lies between artichoke fields and the ocean. Romantically ramshackle yet carefully painted, polished and restored, it is not only the sweet remains of a wild coast hippie zeitgeist, but also the setting where Henry, one among several artist residents, makes her work. A specialist in reduction woodcuts, Henry's richly inked prints are loaded with inspiration from Jungian archetypes, folkloric archaeology, and the odd Tom Waits song.

"I was always attracted to old woodcuts," Henry says."I quickly realized that this was my language."

In a converted washroom of former migrant-worker housing Henry draws, sands, carves, and prints the wooden blocks that form the foundation of her work. In the center of the space is the etching press, the key to all of her results. "I saved up for it," she says proudly. Holding up a work in progress—a fisherman in a tree casting his net for a giant fish waiting below—Henry explains her process. Once satisfied with an initial drawing, she transfers it to the surface of the wood. Carefully registering printing paper with wooden surface she rolls on the first color. "The background comes first." Then she carves again into the wood, leaving uncut the surface she wants printed in the next color. Pulled through the press, the paper now has two colors of the design on its surface. Henry carves the next phase. Mixing inks on a slab of glass, she will apply the third color to the woodcut surface using hard rubber rollers, re-register the original sheets of paper, and roll the prints through the press again. And over and over, carving, inking, and pressing until the image has emerged in its full, multi-colored glory.

Henry came to Santa Cruz in 1985 from her native Southern California. "It was so beautiful that I decided not to go directly back to school," she recalls. "I wanted time to travel and be free." After a few years at Cabrillo, where courses with Howard Ikemoto inspired her printmaking metaphysics, she transferred to UCSC, studying with Paul Rangell, Bob Chiarito and Don Fritz. She ultimately scored a Staff Research Assistant position in printmaking at UC Santa Cruz, a dream day job that gives her freedom to make art.

"I don't have a car payment, I'm not putting children through college. I have a great life," she says, beaming. "I can travel, eat well—living out in Davenport has been a big part of that."

Thanks to Open Studios exposure, Henry's sensitive graphic eye has been on recent public display, on an Oakland museum exterior wall and in a wraparound installation on the downtown Santa Cruz public library. The project, she says, opened up her visual vocabulary and resulted in an installation of 17-foot-long paper panels upon which the word "Home" had been computer-printed from Henry's original woodcuts.

"We had an audience watching us paste up the panels the whole time," she recalls. Henry never waits for inspiration. "It took me a long time to get to this point of readiness." Currently she is exploring a set of prints with fairy-tale images. "I have done “Little Red Riding Hood” at different ages. I'm interested in stories as a way to see how people move through different characters in their lives." An obsessive reader, Henry reveals that she might have liked to be a detective. "I'm curious—I want to uncover things." It shows in her work.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Binding of Edmund McMillen

How a Santa Cruz designer created one of the most unlikely hits in video game history

 

Sun in Leo, Rosy Star, Venus and Uranus Retrograde

Three major celestial events occur this week. Wednesday, the Sun enters Leo, highlighting the heart center of everyone. Leo is a sign of deep sensitivity (along with Cancer). Wednesday is also the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible. Saturday, July 25, Venus turns stationary retrograde at 0 Virgo (progressed Regulus, the Law, Hall of Records). Venus retrogrades for 44 days and nights, forming one petal of a five-pointed rosy star (pentagram) in the sky (five retrogrades over eight years = star). Venus retrograde turns values upside down. Our usual sense of beauty, values, the real price of things, relationships—all turn into a bundle of confusion. We don’t seem to know anything. Luxury goods are mispriced, values are jumbled, we wonder who that person is we’re in relationship with. We don’t know where our money is or where it’s gone. Venus, in daily life, represents values (resources, money, possessions and quality of relationships). Venus retrograde asks, “What do I value?” Venus retrograde puts us in touch with what has changed and what is truly of value in our lives. Venus retrogrades from 0 Virgo to 14 degrees Leo (July 25-Sept. 6). Leo is about the self and our creativity, which is how we come to know and value ourselves. We “know ourselves through what we create.” In Venus (values) retrograde (inner focus) we will ask, “What are values (not just money and finances)? What are my values? What do I create? How do I value my creations? Do I value myself?” Sunday, Uranus—planet of all things new, revelatory and revolutionary—also retrogrades (from 20 to 16 degrees Aries) until the full moon of Christmas Day. Five months of Uranus retrograde. In July and continuing on through the following months we have many planets retrograding. Things therefore slow down. Everyone’s focus becomes subjective, hidden by veils and curtains. A time when inner reserves of strength are available. A time of protection.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 24

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

AJ’s Market

Local cult fave keeps getting bigger and better

 

What do you think of Bernie Sanders?

He’s what we need, more hardcore Democrats. Old-school, ’70s-style Democrats. Tony Dolan, Santa Cruz, Freelancer

 

Hunter Hill Vineyards & Winery

Calling all Merlot lovers—Hunter Hill has released its 2013 estate Merlot ($25)—and a superb one it is, too.

 

Turn Up the Beet

Golden beets with buffalo mozzarella, plus single-malt whiskies and award-winning local Chardonnays