Exhibit features the state of digital art

Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2002

An art show highlighting two revolutions opens this weekend.

The revolutions have occurred in the art world - in the realms of printmaking and digital reproduction.

David Riccio is mounting a show at The Big Picture gallery showcasing state-of-the-art digital printing and traditional printmaking methods. The show opens at with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 17.

Riccio is a printmaker in the classic tradition, etching zinc or copper plates, inking them and then using a press to transfer the image to paper. He's also a computer artist who uses high-powered programs to create digital artwork that comes off state-of-the-art color printers.

Both fields have been transformed in recent years. Riccio recently started a new business in Juneau with Ken Melville called Atelier (pronounced atell-eeay - French for an artists' or designers' studio), which makes fine-art reproductions of watercolors, photographs and paintings. Employing a method called giclee (pronounced ji-clay), it uses computers, digital ink jet printers, pigmented inks and archival paper.

"We're going to do a show that features stuff we're doing at our new business," Riccio said. "You couldn't have done this five years ago. The work stations you could get weren't big enough."

The show will include about 30 images, by Riccio, Melville and Juneau artist Forest Hembree. Riccio will have some of his original work created with computer art programs. Some are digital drawings done on the computer, then manipulated using Photoshop and Fractal Design's painter program, he said. Other images began as drawings, photographs or etchings and have been manipulated on the computer.

"I'm kind of all over the place in my spectrum of work," Riccio said. "I've been doing a lot of etching on zinc and copper plates, in the old style, 1850s-1900 style technology. I have an etching press and use soy-based black ink, intaglio or etching ink."

Riccio also paints silk with fiber-reactive dyes, which bind chemically to the material.

"I do primarily wall hangings and murals, fairly large, abstract pieces," he said.

The show will include large reproductions of digital photographs by Melville and reproductions of work by Hembree.

"He's a local painter, and does nice acrylics of animals, mainly marine animals," Riccio said.

Riccio has been working with University of Alaska Southeast art instructor Alice Tersteeg to integrate new technology into the UAS printmaking lab. Traditional printmaking uses acids, caustic solvents and potentially harmful inks and grounds, which are used to coat the metal plates.

"Etching in the old way is such a toxic process - you have all these chemicals to deal with," he said. "We learned all these techniques for working nontoxic technology at a seminar with Keith Howard, who pretty much invented these new techniques."

New technologies use environmentally friendly inks made from soy and grounds made from canola oil.

In addition to the art show, Riccio will give a demonstration and presentation on digital art next week as part of Juneau Jazz and Classics. The annual music festival added a campus day this year, with a slate of activities at the Auke Bay campus May 25. "They wanted to do some things for the musicians that were different from the normal music things, but still artsy," Riccio said.

The time has yet to be determined, but the presentation will be held in the Egan Library. The Big Picture gallery is in Lyle's Home Furnishings in the Mendenhall Valley. The artwork will remain on display through mid-June.

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