Alan Grabelsky is an artist who divides his time between Baltimore, Maryland and Fredericton, New Brunswick. He received his MFA in Film and Video from the California Institute of the Arts in 1972. While studying film at CalArts he also attended printmaking workshops with Alan Metnick at RISD in the summers.
Following graduation from CalArts Alan set printmaking aside and began a 40-year career in film and television. While living in Los Angeles, he worked on theatrical feature films including “Gorky Park” and “Continental Divide.” He moved to New York in 1986, where he was Executive in Charge of Production at Vestron Pictures, supervising production of six theatrical films, including “Dirty Dancing.” Joining HBO in 1989, he was Vice President in Charge of Production and supervised the production of over 20 films, including the Emmy Award winning “Miss Evers Boys”, and “If These Walls Could Talk.” He completed his career in film and television at Discovery Communications where he was Senior Vice President, Worldwide Production Management until 2012 for all fifteen US Discovery Communications Networks including The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, The Science Channel, and Investigation Discovery, and for all Discovery International Networks, distributed in over 220 countries and territories.
In 2010 Alan returned to printmaking, working in Baltimore, Maryland, with master printer Brian Garner at the Litho Shop, with internationally acclaimed artist Soledad Salame at Sol Print Studios, at the Baltimore Print Studios and at Manual Feed Press. In New Brunswick, Canada, he works in Fredericton at his own studio at The Charlotte Street Art Centre, with David Brewer at Rabbit Town Press, and in St. Andrews with master printer Robert Van de Peer at the Sunbury Shores Print Studio. He has produced pieces employing unique combinations of lithography, wood block, silkscreen and photo etching techniques.
Love Songs: A Journal of Fateful Encounters
Each of these prints is my attempt to capture and make manifest a particular moment in time. They represent an experience that included a visual component, but more importantly, a feeling component, that struck a chord deep within me.
My formal art training was in film at the California Institute of the Arts where I received a Master of Fine Arts. The language of film is familiar to me. Without a formal visual art education and its own particular language, I have struggled to find the words to explain how these prints were made. Metaphor and analogy have come to my rescue. Thus, Love Songs: A Journal of Fateful Encounters.
Love Songs, because the way love songs are inspired, how they are made, and the way I feel when I hear one, or sing along with one, makes them the ideal metaphor to describe how I made these prints and how they make me feel when I spend time with them. A Journal, because in addition to each print’s individual impact, when I looked back at this finished body of work, I was surprised to discover how vividly it chronicled my life during the time of its making. And Fateful Encounters, because as I said, each print, like a love song, is inspired by a particular encounter that happened at a particular moment when I was paying proper attention. Within each encounter I experienced an incandescent moment that, like an exploding flashbulb, left a ghostly afterimage, visual and emotional, that I was later able to conjure back into physical existence in the form of an ink drawing. The ink drawing is the foundational element each print is built on.
At each step of the process, I strive to suspend myself in the sweet spot between intention and accident. The drawing is made quickly in an effort to reimagine and capture gesture, not actuality, and it is used to produce the key black image of the print. The drawing also serves as a template for the gray bed in which the key image nestles. That gray bed is a multi-layered ink drawing on wet media acetate, made in a manner that is intended to make accidents happen. These two images, one embraced by the other, sit on top of a silver metallic background. Just as the key image and its gray nest are in a dynamic relationship with each other, the silver frame itself is never static. It is in almost constant motion depending on how the light is falling on it.
Once these three layers are combined, they sing to me of the encounter that inspired them. A beautiful song I never get tired of.