Where Worlds Collide Gary Comoglio: Primed for Printmaking
Like the discovery of the Daguerreotype photographic process, the invention of lithography was the result of a happy accident. In 1796 Alois Senefelder jotted down his shopping list on a piece of limestone using a wax pencil. He “came back in the morning and saw that the water had separated from the pencil on the stone and figured that he might be able to develop a printmaking process,” says Gary Comoglio of Alameda, a printmaker and exhibition director of the California Society of Printmakers, a San Francisco–based nonprofit printmakers’ arts appreciation organization.
Senefelder was right, but the process is not for the faint of heart, sometimes requiring up to nine months to carve a block while hands and shoulders cramp. A printmakers’ vision might require multiple plates to create a single image, and the printing process alone can take weeks to complete. “It’s a pretty labor-intensive process,” Comoglio says.
To create his multicolored prints, Comoglio combines the methods pioneered by the 1910-era modernist printmakers of Provincetown, Mass., with those of the Japanese printmakers who heavily influenced him. “I’m combining two completely different worlds of printmaking and then coming up with my own unique method. And that’s something that I hunt for all the time, to develop not only my own language of visual images, but also to add to the dialogue of what woodcut printmaking is, so that I’m contributing in a couple of different ways artistically.”
His hard work is paying off. Recent exhibitions include group shows at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, Falkirk Cultural Center in San Rafael, Olive Hyde Art Gallery in Fremont and the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in San Francisco’s Presidio, as well as Bankside Gallery in London, a collaboration between the California Society of Printmakers and the Royal Academy of Printmakers.
In addition to being a working artist, Comoglio shares his skill and knowledge with the next generation. He is the printmaking studio manager at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where he cares for presses dating back to the Victorian era, teaches silkscreen and printmaking workshops and advises graduate students on their thesis and printmaking projects, “one of the most rewarding parts of the job,” he says.