Yesterday was “re-hang the gallery” day here at 15th Street Gallery. The period of time between shows can be both freeing and frustrating. It’s freeing because since there is no one featured artist or theme, we get to exhibit whatever happens to suit our fancy. But it can be a little overwhelming because in pulling work out of the vertical art storage bins, we are faced with so many possibilities that it’s hard to decide what to show. But as we came across some beautiful mezzotints by New York artist Fred Mershimer, it was like meeting up with an old, dear friend. A friend you knew really liked but somehow you had forgotten just how special this friend is to you. We hadn’t seen “Fred” for a few months and the reunion was surprisingly fresh and exciting. So, the decision of what to exhibit on our new hanging walls was easy. Welcome back to the gallery Fred!
A mezzotint is a very labor-intensive and painstaking print to make. Its velvety richness is achieved by roughing the copper plate with thousands of dots/lines made by a special tool known as a “rocker.” In printing, the tiny pits in the plate hold the ink when the face of the pate is wiped clean. The results, particularly with these Mershimer scenes of New York, is quite stunning. When viewed from a distance these New York scenes can have an absolute photographic realism, but a closer look shows the artist’s sensibility at work. There is heightened intensity in the lighting and composition that distill the essence and magic of the city. It’s easy to see why Mershimer has become one of the most acclaimed contemporary mezzotint printmakers, being featured in exhibitions and museum collections throughout the country. We are honored to have his work here at the gallery and it was a delight to be reacquainted with Fred yesterday. Good old friends, indeed. These mezzotints.