The Printmaking/Mixed Media Works of Liz Chalfin and Bryan Smith: A Reflection


Let me begin by saying I never quite know what to expect when I see the words “Mixed Media.”  In this case, it turned out to be a wonderful collection of works that involve watercolors, paper, photographs, charcoal, and pastel, to name some of the mediums used in this show.  I started with the Liz Chalfin pieces, intrigued by her use of negative space. Chalfin uses limited color choices in each of her

liz chalfin image
Liz Chalfin, Relationship, 22’x30”, monotype with photo-intaglio, watercolor, 2008

pieces, as well as a lot of texture, and line.  Each piece of hers in our Towne Gallery has at least one figure in it, and it amazes me how easy it is to recognize human behavior in the body language displayed in these pieces.  One in particular that stuck out to me was number 8, “What’s Next?,” which features a figure that is clearly a person holding a child, and floating to the left of them is a cloudlike image made of a blue lines with spots along it.  The entire piece is done in shades of blue on a white background, and the negative space really speaks to a person asking that question that is the title, what’s next?  Another piece that particularly stood out to me was Chalfin’s first piece in the show, “Relationship.” It shows two figures facing away from the viewer, separated by intercrossing lines of red-orange, black, and light grey.  The figures themselves seem contemplative, as they stand on swirling lines, and look out at orbs in each of their backgrounds. 

Next I turned the work of Bryan Smith.  His work in this show consists entirely of monoprints, a type of printmaking.  They have a very sketchy, painterly feel to them, in a controlled way.  Most of the pieces are monochromatic, and all of them involve human figures in the action of doing something.  They tend to be depicted in groups, though the viewer gets the feeling that each figure is

bryan smith image
Bryan Smith, 80 West Street, Mendham, NJ 07945, 24”x36”, mono print, pastel, charcoal, oil paint, lithographic rubbing ink

in its own space, and is not much interacting with the others.  Many of them seem to be in stages of great emotion.  One that I found to be quite visually interesting was number 16, “From March 17, 2010 to September 20, 2010.” It is one of the pieces that depicts the figures indoors, and the perspective with the staircases and figures is quite interesting to absorb.  Another that stood out to me was number 20, “Still (Looking) V”, which is one of a many from a “Still (Looking)” series.  This one shows figures in an outdoors of sorts.  They seem to be on cliffs of various heights, and are in varying positions of thought.  The figure closest in the foreground to the viewer has its hands on its head in some great emotion (despair perhaps?).  This Towne Art Gallery show (here until Feb 20th) contains some truly incredible, and visually stimulating work from all sides of the emotional spectrum.  It’s definitely worth looking into so come on down!