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First impressions

UCF’s Flying Horse Editions launches annual fine arts print fair

Photo: Daniel Dorsa, License: N/A, Created: 2011:01:26 15:15:01

Daniel Dorsa

Print on Demand: Jon Didier, an intern at Flying Horse Editions, examines Yuji Hiratsuka's "Bewitching Ritual" woodcut print as it comes off the press

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Orlando, it seems, is a ripe market for this kind of event. Central Florida is home to an unexpectedly vibrant printmaking community, of which Flying Horse is a central concern. The facility functions not only as a working press but also a teaching space for printmaking, book arts and multiple editions, not just for students but for artists inexperienced in the process. Visiting artists work with UCF art students to expand their practice – painters learn to pull intaglio prints; sculptors explore ways to make multiple editioned objects. It’s impossible to trace the roots of a “scene” with any precision, but this one was certainly sparked to life by events decades ago: the founding of Flying Horse and the acquisition of the first prints of OMA’s Contemporary American Graphics Collection.

That collection, seeded in 1974 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that allowed the museum to purchase its first 27 prints, is unparalleled among regional American museums of similar size. It includes works by Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Kiki Smith, Elizabeth Peyton and Kerry James Marshall. An ingenious corporate leasing scheme funds the acquisition of new prints and maintenance of the existing work: Orlando-area businesses may borrow prints from the collection for display in their public areas. Every two years, prints are returned, checked for needed repairs, exhibited at OMA, then placed again with different sponsors. (After 10 years, prints are retired from the program.) With the leasing fees paving the way, the Contemporary American Graphics Collection has grown to more than 270 pieces.

Scott, who was the curator overseeing the collection before leaving the museum, remembers OMA as the place she “really learned about prints.” Her current concern, Sue Scott Gallery, doesn’t specialize in prints, but she founded One Eye Pug to print monotypes by painters she admires. Her fondness for the form is evident: “Taking the work through the press gives it an added sense of ‘accident’ that an artist can’t control. The results are mostly very exciting and unpredictable. I love standing at the press when the paper is peeled up from the plate – you never quite know what to expect.”

Scott finds that printmaking can be freeing, not only for collectors but for artists, too. “The artists I’ve invited to make prints often find that the methods they use – spraying solvent, dragging the paint with cards or squeegees or using stencils – feed back into their painting. … It allows for experimentation.”

And there’s yet another reason for the appeal of fine art prints: affordability. Price can be a barrier for the beginning collector, but prints, lower-priced than many other mediums, make a great entry point. “I think that OMA’s example of collecting prints has encouraged many local collectors, like the Feldmans and others,” Lotz says. “Bob Feldman began buying prints by ‘blue chip’ artists … and that inspired him to become more serious about buying contemporary art generally. It gave him the bug, so to speak, and the confidence.”

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