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Three accomplished women artists, who took very different paths to make the lakeside town of Mount Vernon their home, have created an art collaborative producing some of the most high-spirited monotype prints in the region. Their styles, like their backgrounds, are very different. What they all share is the love of monotype printmaking — where the artist puts paint or ink on a glass or metal plate and then applies it to paper on an etching press, creating a one-of-a-kind textured print.
The three — Ann Warren, Jan Webber and Judith Krischik-Brinton — work together in Warren's renovated barn turned studio under the name of Flying Bear Prints, a nod to the bear sculpture outside the studio window. (The bear, created by Dennis Pinette, was part of the Belfast Bearfest.)
They will show their prints this summer in Webber's Minnehonk Gallery in Mount Vernon's village center on the shores of Minnehonk Lake. The show opens on July 1, and the gallery will be open Thursday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., until Labor Day.
The village center is a nexus of summertime activity in this community that was once part of the back-to-the land movement. In addition to the gallery, which is attached to the Webber Real Estate office, are two antique shops, The Olde Post Office Café, a fine arts furniture maker, country store and Mount Vernon Community Center — which hosts community breakfasts every week.
Warren was born in Bangor and graduated from Mount Holyoke College. Before moving to Mount Vernon in 1999, she and her husband lived in New York, and she returned to painting when her son started school. She was part of a landscape group and participated in workshops from Alaska to Cape Cod. Monotype, she said, has given her the opportunity to test her limits.
"The variety of tools — anything from brushes to rollers to palette knives — can be used to ink the plates. Any number of materials can create forms and shapes from paper cut outs, string, rug liners and on and on," Warren said. "Marks in the ink can be created with Q-tips, combs, fingers. The image once pulled can be altered on the paper with pencil, crayon, collaged elements."
Webber, who sells real estate with her husband, operated the Minnehonk Gallery from 1993 to 2006 and then reopened it again in 2015 for Flying Bear Prints. She grew up in Wilton, Maine, graduated from Colby College, and ultimately settled in Mount Vernon where she met her husband, and the couple raised their two sons.
Webber has been fascinated with printmaking since the 1980s.She has attended workshops at the Round Top Art Center and Midcoast Printmakers in Damariscotta as well as the Great River Art Institute in Vermont.
"I experiment with collagraphs, gel plates, collage, and other methods to make one-of-a-kind works. One print may involve a number of layers, always a surprise in the final outcome," Webber said. "I have been influenced by abstract Japanese printmaker Hideo Hagiwara, and poetic artist Paul Klee, among others. I try to make each print, like a poem, speak from the heart. Moods, rhythm, color and structure all play a part in my work."
Krischik-Brinton grew up in the Ruhr Valley in Germany and worked in Switzerland in her 20s as a writer and editor in the headquarters of the Rudolf Steiner movement, inspired by the Austrian philosopher, author and social reformer. She met her husband while doing an interview and ended up following him to the states, ultimately coming to Mount Vernon.
While in Switzerland she had taken painting classes, but said it's when she finally came to Maine that she started taking her art more seriously. Her work has been shown in Portland, Hallowell, Milbridge and Rockport. In recent years, her interests shifted from acrylic painting to monotype printmaking.
"I love working with translucence and multiple layers, and printmaking has proven to be an excellent medium for it," she said. "Art for me is all about abstract shapes and how they relate to each other. I am fascinated by the edges and contours which manifest when I pull a print. It is something I've always wanted to create in painting. It comes so naturally in printmaking."