It began with a Facebook message. Bloomington area sculptor Dale Enochs wanted to know if he could come to my studio and see my printmaking process. It is not often that an accomplished artist wants to see my studio. During our visit and subsequent conversations, I learned that Enochs was revitalizing an interest in printmaking that had started during college and graduate school, where he admits he was fascinated by tools and materials.
One of the things I did was sing the praises of linoleum. Unless you need the grain of the wood, linoleum is easier to carve than many types of wood and holds edges better than rubber. I gave Dale two square of linoleum to try out, and worried I had led him over to the dark side. A few months later, he gifted me with this diptych, entitled Dialogue. I shouldn't have worried.
Dale Enochs. Dialogue. Linocut on paper. Ready for a frame and a place in my house!
Enochs has been a sculptor for many years, and his stone and metal creations grace many buildings, homes and outdoor sites throughout the world, and right in our town. His installation Elemental Indiana fills two giant walls in the ticketing area of the Indianapolis International Airport.
Dale Enochs. Elemental Indiana (detail), Limestone and metal.
He recently installed a metal wall sculpture on the newly constructed Bloomington Transit Center. Entitled Breakaway, its circles and ripples invoking the constant energy and movement of our college town.
Dale Enochs. Breakaway. Coated metal. A 20% scale maquette for an installation at the Bloomington (Indiana) Transit Center.
So back to our studio visit...he told me that he had received an Indiana Individual Artist grant which he was using to refurbish and outfit an printing press he had been given. A show at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center would the culmination of this new-to-him press, and showcase both his sculptures and his printmaking. After seeing this show in June, I wanted to know how his love of sculpting Indiana limestone fitted with his new passion of printmaking. If you look closely at Enoch's limestone carvings and his printmaking, you can see that he switches seamlessly between the two media.
Dale Enochs. Heart of Stone. Limestone. (In background, Dale Enochs. Water Lily. Woodcut on paper)
An opportune 2010 trip to Bhutan fueled Enochs' printmaking endeavors. His wife Ann Berke, a biology and math teacher, had secured a Teacher Creativity Fellowship from the Lilly Endowment. Bhutan is a place untouched by outside influences. Enochs found himself drawn to the tantric vocabulary of this Buddhist country, and wanted to translate this into a Hoosier vocabulary. (One on-line explanation of tantra is "a doctrine of enlightenment as the realization of the oneness of one's self and the visible world.) In this tradition, visual symbols such as mandalas and other ritual objects are extremely important.
The heart is a theme that runs throughout many of Enoch's pieces, both sculptural and on paper. He explains that he has a collection of heart phrases, and notes that the essence of heart is evocative in many cultures -- notably in the Asian idea of the heart chakra.
Dale Enochs. Heart of the Matter, Relief print on paper.
One of the things I like most about Enoch's work is his willingness to incorporate disparate materials in interesting ways. His print Heart of the Matter developed from an actual multi-plate metal sculpture similar to Breakaway. He mounted each metal plate on MDF and used them to create this colored relief image. The detailed background pattern was created by carving on red rubber from the hardware store. I have been a bit of a linoleum purist so far, and this encourages me to think beyond the linoleum block.
Dale Enochs. Water Lily. Woodcut on paper.
An up-close look at Enoch's printmaking shows similar marks to those that finish his stone-carved pieces. He tells me he often takes rubbings of his stones to get ideas for new patterns. On his stone carvings, while he makes use of pneumatic chisels during the carving process, he likes to finish the surface by hand -- thereby "accentuating eccentricity" and capturing unexpected energy. In his work there is this duality between energy and calm, harkening back to his inspiration from Bhutan.
Finally Enochs appreciates the practicality and freedom that printmaking provides. Now that his press is in service, when carving a block he needs only small tools and a table -- no fork-lifts required. Much of his sculptural work is done with commissions and many of these are publicly funded. Creating a new print requires no RFPs, and allows his ideas to be communicated directly from the printing plate to paper.
In this conversation between stone and chisels...and linoleum and paper, a oneness between very different artistic media emerges.