Preview: Art Under Pressure at Ohio Art League Gallery

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From the April 4, 2012 edition

Cindy Davis and Joan Tallan, members of the Phoenix Rising Printmaking Cooperative, have contagious enthusiasm. And rightly so.

“We feel like we’re in a palace,” Tallan said.

The two are overjoyed about the co-op’s new Downtown studio space, located in a historic building at 243 N. Fifth St. The co-op, which was established in 1998, moved to its new, larger space in December from a cramped location on Parsons Avenue.

On Thursday, the cooperative reveals what it’s been up to since relocating when “Art Under Pressure” opens at the Ohio Art League Gallery.

Nine of the cooperative’s members will present works that celebrate Columbus’ bicentennial. The show, which features printmaking techniques such as etching, relief and collograph, is curated by Tallan, a teacher turned full-time printmaker.

“I love telling stories … and this is a great technique for telling stories,” Tallan said.

Although Tallan’s prints are often political, her main work for “Art Under Pressure” is a playful relief depicting bustling scenes from the Ohio State Fair.

Other printmakers explore the city’s neighborhoods in the show; Davis celebrates Clintonville with a detailed etching and mezzotint piece called “Almost Home.”

Meanwhile, Michael Rado’s clever and stately embossing of a Columbus manhole cover looks like it could reside on a wall in the governor’s office. Other members participating in the show are Jenny Cross, Ellie Hug, Donna Jacobs, Eliana Saari, Judith Steele and co-op co-founder Anne Cushman.

Phoenix Rising is a place where printmakers can support each other, Tallan said, and share the shop’s two intaglio presses (a Takach and a Rembrandt) plus a hulking, fire-engine red Vandercook relief press from the 1960s.

“We have access to these great machines,” Tallan added. “Most people, if they have the money, they don’t have the space, and if they have the space, they don’t have the money to buy one of these presses.”