When Jade Dellinger assumed the reins at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery, he already had a few projects in the works. One was the Moon Museum Exhibition, which opened at the Georgian National Museum Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery in Tbilisi on November 19. And the other is GraphicStudio: Uncommon Practice at USF, which opens February 1 at the Tampa Museum of Art. Curated by Jade Dellinger and co-organized by USF Contemporary Art Museum and the Tampa Museum of Art, the project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Graphicstudio is a renowned print workshop located on the campus of the University of South Florida. Because of its philosophy of providing artists with the freedom to experiment and pursue new directions to advance their practice coupled with an exceptionally talented faculty and staff, GraphicStudio has attracted some of the most important artists of the 20th century to the University of South Florida campus in Tampa. Their collaborative projects have produced print editions and multiples at the forefront of contemporary art.
GraphicStudio was the brainchild of USF Distinguished Professor Emeritus Donald J. Saff, who founded the workshop in 1968. Fueled by the renaissance in American printmaking in the 1960s, Saff led his team to invent new processes and treatments of traditional printmaking. Jim Dine, Philip Pearlstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Jim Rosenquist produced large scale lithographs and mixed media works there. A new process for printing encaustic waxes, called "wax type," was developed by GraphicStudio specifically for Roy Lichtenstein. GraphicStudio transformed the seminal printmaking process of relief into a technique known as "heliorelief," which uses photographically-generated stencils to effect fine details in the prints thereby produced.
But rResearch and innovations were not limited at GraphicStudio to works on paper. The production of sculpture editions and artists' books was also a significant part of GraphicStudio's mission. Innovative sculpture multiples produced under Saff's leadership included Robert Rauschenberg's mixed media editions for his ROCI project and cast bronze sculptures for Roy Lichtenstein.
The atelier later merged with the Contemporary Art Museum and Public Art Program to form the Institute for Research in Art, under the direction of Professor Margaret A. Miller, whom Dellinger credits as mentor, inspiration and one of the reasons he moved to Florida from New York. In recent years, Miller has re-emphasized sculpture production and the studio's fabricators have researched and developed innovative techniques in bronze casting for Louise Bourgeois, Diana Al-Hadid and Estero Segura, and wood constructions for Los Carpinteros and Allan McCollum.
"In the most significant and far-reaching collaboration between the Museum and the University of South Florida, more than 110 works by 45 artists will fill the Museum walls and highlight the important connection between Tampa and the international arts world," states the Tampa Museum about the exhibition. "Graphicstudio: Uncommon Practice at USF is the most ambitious and comprehensive show to feature works from the workshop since the survey exhibition of the early years of Graphicstudio at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. in 1991."
Two years in the making, Graphicstudio: Uncommon Practice at USF chronicles several aesthetic and technical conversations among artists of different generations. Highlighting both technical and conceptual breakthroughs, the exhibition includes seminal works spanning Graphicstudio’s forty-six year history (by Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, Allan McCollum, Louise Bourgeois, Jim Dine, and others) with some of its most recent collaborative endeavors (by Christian Marclay, Mark Dion, Teresita Fernández, Los Carpinteros, and Trenton Doyle Hancock). The retrospective is the largest exhibition in the history of Tampa Bay, taking up 90 percent of the Tampa Museum's new facility.
A catalogue to commemorate the exhibition and the partnership will be published by D. Giles, Ltd of London, England and will be available for purchase in the Guilders and Florida Communications Group Museum store.
Dellinger was the logical choice for a curator for the retrospective. In 1989 and '90, Dellinger was doing research on GraphicStudio as an undergraduate. "I interviewed a number of artists who'd had projects there, including Bob Rauschenberg and Jim Rosenquist," said Dellinger in an interview last Fall. "My research was compiled during a critical moment for GraphicStudio. The National Gallery of Art in Washington was archiving GraphicStudio's records. They did a major book and quotes from my interviews ended up being included in the book." Which undoubtedly factored into Dellinger being tapped to put together the retrospective at the Tampa Museum of Art.
The Museum opens daily at 11 a.m. Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. General admission prices are: adult $10.00; seniors, groups, military plus one guest $7.50; students $5; and children ages 6 and under free-of-charge. A Pay-What-You-Will fee structure is offered every Friday from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. The Museum’s address is 120 Gasparilla Plaza. Tampa, FL 33602.