Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Mar 02nd
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

 

Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Teresa’s Gourmet Foods

New owners for Santa Cruz’s leading local salsa company

 

What defines a good dive bar?

It’s slightly dirty, and they serve cheap drinks. Stella Celeste, Santa Cruz, Barrista

 

Picchetti Winery

After enjoying its contents, I couldn’t throw away the empty bottle of Picchetti Winery’s Red Table Wine.

 

Happy Birthday, Manny

Manuel’s turns 50, farmers market steel head pairs with Pinot, and a Birichino Malvasia