Arts and Entertainment

Thanks ... for everything

Kris Spencer
Kris Spencer's 'Koi Attack' is part of Fine Balance Imaging Studios 'Gratitude 4 Giclee Print Art Show' through Feb. 28 at the Bayveiw Cash Store.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Fine Balance Imaging Studios

Thankfulness, indebtedness and appreciation.

These are fine words that acknowledge acts of kindness and excellence.

But it is the word “gratitude” that Joe Menth and Nancy McFarland chose to honor the artists who use their printing services at Fine Balance Imaging Studios at Bayview Corner.

Gratitude is one of those words that perfectly expresses its meaning just by saying it. In the spirit of such perfect expression, Fine Balance Imaging Studios shows its appreciation for all its clients with “Gratitude: 4 Giclée Print Art Show” through Feb. 28 in the Bayview Cash Store.

In a show of their absolute gratefulness to those who keep them doing what they love to do, Menth and McFarland will host more than two dozen local artists and photographers in a show for which the artists receive 100 percent of sales from their work.

“Gratitude 4” is a show in two parts. Presently, several artists’ work is hanging in the Cash Store Hub. The second part of the show opens at the Open Door Community Gallery, also in the Bayview Cash Store, on Friday,

Feb. 19. An artists’ reception is from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20.

Menth said that what makes this art show different from most others is that all the pieces shown are giclée fine-art reproductions, considered by many galleries and museums to be of the same visual quality as the original piece. Recent works shown at the Seattle Art Museum for a variety of exhibits, including reproductions of some paintings by Michaelangelo, were created using the same process Fine Balance Imaging Studios uses for its Whidbey Island clients. Many galleries offer these prints as a viable alternative to high-priced original works of art. Giclée prints are preferred by curators and art lovers for their level of quality and accuracy, a quality that traditional limited edition prints lack.

Simply defined, a giclée is a fine-art print produced on real watercolor paper, canvas, or other substrate, using pigmented inks. It is believed that these archival prints will resist fading for more than 200 years, decades longer than the offset lithograph process. In fact, most giclée prints will outlast original watercolor paintings, as well as traditionally printed photographs.

But if you ask the artists who use the services of this Langley printing studio, both the longtime clients and new-to-the-island set agree, it is they who are grateful for such expert printers. The unanimous consensus among the artists is that nobody does it better or with such respect.

“They are the very best,” said longtime customer and photographer Sharon Shoemaker.

“They pay attention to detail and the customer’s needs. Joe is a wizard; always creative and cutting edge — introducing new papers and ideas. I have used many printers, and they don’t hold a candle to Joe and Nancy, who are also great to work with and fun, kind, can-do people,” she said.

Fine Gelfand is a multi-media and surface-design artist who Menth said helps him to see the endless possibilities in printing. Gelfand, in return, appreciates both Joe and Nancy’s willingness to match her vision.

“It is a deep pleasure for me to watch someone, anyone, who is really good at what they do. And Joe is good and then some,” Gelfand said. “I have worked with him on projects that he never imagined someone would dream up and unhesitatingly he embraces the new concepts with enthusiasm.”

Even the newer clients are hooked.

Holly Thomas said that the new technology she has discovered through FBIS, such as transfer techniques, has opened a new world of experimentation for her as an artist. But, like the others, it’s the nature of the studio that makes going to this printer a pleasure.

“I feel at home there,” Thomas said. “Joe and Nancy have a personal quality — a remarkable combination or a ‘fine balance,’ if you will — of ingenuity, artistic talent and common sense. Because of their personal qualities, they draw in wonderful people, so that if you hang out there for a little while, you’re pretty much guaranteed a fun encounter embedded with new ideas.”

The glowing critiques are too numerous to list, but you get the idea. These guys are good, and the “Gratitude 4: Giclée Print Art Show” is quickly becoming an island tradition.

The featured island artists represent all skill levels and mediums, including acrylics, watercolors, photographs, oil paintings and mixed-media collages. Some of these artists are internationally known, while others are just launching careers in art. The artists range in age from 10 to 80.

With all the energizing conversations going on between artists and the FBIS printers, and their exploration of ideas using new technology, the studio will roll out a series of classes this spring exploring the techniques in which its clients have expressed an interest.

“By empowering and enabling our clients with more information, it allows them to fully realize the possibilities, and further push the level of what they can achieve on their own in their creative vision,” Menth said.

“We’ve been asked for years to teach classes on all of the things we know and do, and we are responding this year with a full slate of classes starting in April,” he added.

Some examples of classes available are “Basic Photography Techniques,” “Photoshop,” “Adobe Lightroom,” “Framing and Finishing Techniques” and “Alternative Printing Techniques” for printing on metals, fabrics and wood, including advanced image-transfer techniques.

Also, in preparation for the Whidbey Island Arts Council’s annual Open Studio Tour, artists can take “Preparing for Tours/Shows/Contests: Resources for Artists.”

The company also has plans to improve its Web site to include a new blog tied to FBIS Facebook and Twitter feeds, profiles of local artists and lots of marketing tips for artists and other educational information.

Additionally, as an extension of the Gratitude Show concept, all sales from the Web site galleries will pay the artists 100 percent of the retail price they set for their work. Any Fine Balance Imaging client is eligible to participate.

Call 221-2707 for information, click here or e-mail

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