Sometimes my pitch for a potential acquisition failed for one reason or another, and I kept a list of them, the ones that got away. And sometimes the ones that got away felt like they needed to find their way into my own collection. (Once the museum declares it is not interested in a work, one is free to pursue it oneself.) Such was the case with Amze Emmons, a terrific artist based in Philadelphia. I first became aware of Amze because of the blog he worked on with friends and colleagues Robert Tillman and Jason Urban called Printeresting. The blog’s tagline was “The thinking person's favorite resource for interesting print miscellany.” Luckily for everyone, the site is archived here: https://archive.printeresting.org/. Back in 2012, Ben Levy and I invited the three to give a talk at the museum during the Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair. They also created a post about the fair, which is here: http://archive.printeresting.org/2012/05/06/baltimore-contemporary-print-fair/?fbclid=IwAR2nXkMqKRc4VmrV3fUA62rSsI0G-fHU3ZcO86rxOVMy_TMoMKvVvBlGg0s.
Amze teaches printmaking at the Tyler School of Art, part of Temple University. In addition, he is an artist, curator, and critic. He’s an eloquent thinking person with abundant energy. In his work he often looks for objects and ideas that are particular to place yet universal. Many have a dystopian feel. One drawing caught my eye because it not only speaks to Amze’s overall themes, but also it speaks to social protest and history. Publisher Publisher is a drawing in graphite and gouache (opaque watercolor) from 2014. In an empty urban lot is a pile of discarded books surrounded by microphones on stands. The books have the opportunity to speak through the microphones, but are, by nature, incapable. The missing link is us. We are the only ones that can ingest and distill the books’ information and turn around and share that knowledge aurally (or is it orally). What information the books hold is unknowable, unless we rescue them for this pile, open them, and give them our attention. The possibility is right there on the precipice and is only lacking human care and intervention. I see a push-pull of knowledge and ignorance, of potential and impotence, of knowledge and its censure, of sorrow at the books' destruction, of them as symbols of humans’ frailty, and fear of other, of learning, of living.
My pitch for its acquisition fell on deaf ears. But all is not lost. The drawing now graces the walls of my dining room. It’s a rare work that appeals to my industrial-Americana-loving husband, my own need for beauty, and my deep desire for works that pack a punch. Amze, I thank you and I tip my hat to you.
Amze Emmons (American, born 1974)
Publisher Publisher, 2014
Gouache and graphite
26 x 38 in.
Ann's art blog
A small corner of the interwebs to share thoughts on objects I acquired for the Baltimore Museum of Art's collection, research I've done on Stanley William Hayter and Atelier 17, experiments in intaglio printmaking, and the Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair.