April 4 - May 17, 2015
Alan Stein and the Grimsby Public Art Gallery have a long history. In 1975 when the GPAG was established, Stein lived in Grimsby, a young artist with a growing reputation as the creator of stained glass panels and objects, and one whose developing career was worth watching. At the time, Stein shared work space with GPAG founding director Bill Poole who, in a catalogue for the second exhibition ever held in the GPAG, commented that “It is a joy to go to work and find the results of his previous day’s work at rest in one of the windows. Bringing ever changing colour and light to the workshop environment.” That exhibition featured Stein’s glass work, along with a number of etchings and drawings.
By 1977 Stein had a glass studio in Toronto; in 1987 he was in Parry Sound, where he still lives today, and had established Church Street Press.
Stein regularly shows and sells large scale charcoal and pastel drawings and oil paintings, but it is his work as a printmaker, private press printer and book artist that is best known to us in Grimsby. He has, over the years, been a regular participant at Wayzgoose, and his work has been featured in various exhibitions – in 1975, 1978 and more recently in1998 with his In Mexico prints. In 2005 Stein, along with Wes Bates, shared the exhibition Beyond the Book, which featured large scale drawings and paintings by two artists who are both well known for
their print and illustration work.
The current exhibition, Viewfinder, has much in common with In Mexico, an exhibition that was about the suite of illustrations Stein created for Al Purdy’s Mexico poems, but more importantly, that documented the warm relationship and intellectual collaboration between poet and artist. Viewfinder documents a similar relationship between Stein and renowned Canadian author and poet, Michael Crummey. This is accomplished by examining and revealing the processes and design decisions that were made during the creation of the hand-printed, limited run edition of Viewfinder, Crummey’s recent book of poetry. The poems focus on the history and landscape of Newfoundland and Labrador and in them Crummey adopts voices from the past or tells stories of his own family, expressing his thoughts about our transient place in the natural world and the ephemeral
traces we leave as we pass.
The close relationship forged between artist and author was crucial to the form and look of the finished book. Stein collaborated with Crummey in the selection of the poems, and ideas and images passed back and forth between the two, cementing their partnership despite the distance. Stein made several trips to Newfoundland to personally experience and thus better understand the landscapes he was depicting. He created wood engravings to illustrate each poem, set the type and hand printed the book in a limited edition of 50 copies on his Vandercook #4 proof press. Viewpoint, the exhibition, includes examples of most of the steps that were part of this year long project. Working models of the book, sketches and proofs for the engravings, the presence of wood engraved blocks, tools, materials and type all help the viewer to understand the complexity of this artistic production. The inclusion of a complete set of original wood engravings and seven large scale charcoal drawings of the same images demonstrate the strength and versatility of the images, which function equally well as illustrations alongside text, presented on their own as framed images or scaled up multiple times in the charcoal drawings.
Grimsby Public Art Gallery
Grimsby Public Art Gallery