Turner Print Museum to Present Never Before Seen
Paintings & Scratchboard Works Created by Janet Turner

Art Show Promo PhotosWe all know what a great printmaker and print collector Janet Turner was. Her print works hang in some of the most prestigious museums and galleries in the world. And her collecting of prints by famous as well as lesser-known printmakers became the basis for the Turner Print Museum’s 3500-plus print collection.

Get ready to add “outstanding painter” and “outstanding scratchboard artist” to Turner’s list of accomplishments during her lifetime (1914-1988).

CSU, Chico’s Janet Turner Print Museum, located in the Meriam Library, next to the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology, will be presenting paintings and scratchboard works done by its namesake — all on public display for the first time — during its initial exhibition of the 2012-2013 season.

“New View: Janet Turner Paintings and Scratchboards” runs August 27-September 23 with a curator’s talk and reception taking place at the museum Thursday, August 30 beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Turner is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

It seems reasonable to assume that Turner world be interested not just in printmaking, but also in other forms of artistic expression. She after all was a professor in Chico State’s Art Department from 1959-1981 and well-versed not only in printmaking but also through her preparatory education in other forms of creating art.

“This exhibition presents Janet’s scratchboard work as individual art, even if they were part of the development of art in another medium, specifically her prints,” noted Catherine Sullivan, Curator of The Turner. “Her infrequent paintings were also part of her printmaking image building process.”

Scratchboard, for people unfamiliar with this art form, is one of the oldest printmaking techniques; art historians theorize that its beginnings goes all the way back to caveman days when people would use sharp rocks to scratch images into bones. The materials used for scratchboard illustrations has evolved over time  — today’s scratchboard artists are more apt to use a piece of paper or board covered with a white, chalk-like material and then coated with black ink; lines scratched into the surface with a knife-like tool collectively create an image.

“Depending on the intent of the artist, several areas may be cleared out for layering with watercolors, airbrush or acrylics,” notes Wikipedia. “These layers are then scratched off one by one to create different shades of color that blend into and highlight certain parts of the image. It can then be retouched with more paint as necessary.”

People that come to the exhibition and who are familiar with Turner’s prints will see similarities between some of her scratchboard works or paintings and the print works she did. One of Turner’s most iconic and well-known works, “Koi,” a detail which is on The Turner home page — www.janetturner.org — will be shown in its scratchboard form, as will another well-known work, “Bees Amid Tulip Tree.”

Sullivan said Turner’s scratchboards were frequently used to explore an illustration technique that later would show up on one of her print works.

“I don’t know any other printmakers that used scratchboards in the manner Janet did.  I suspect she liked it for its painterly characteristics and as a guide for the line cutting needed for her prints.”

Sullivan believes Turner’s scratchboard works have a singular and painterly appeal separate from her print works.  

“I would not say her use of scratchboards made for a better print, but more so allowed her to conceive it in its totality before she began the stages necessary to compete the print work.”

That Turner was enamored with creating paintings speaks, Sullivan believes, to a strong ambition from her to be a painter. Her interest in color defining form, as seen in her prints, is evident in her paintings.

“I believe Janet had a strong desire to be a painter and found a way to create a greater body of work by infusing her prints with painterly aspects. Most commonly this was done with the carved blocks for form and a multitude of transparent and opaque screen print runs.  Printmaking created a significant amount of art to sell and exhibit versus the ‘one-off’ that is a singular scratchboard or painting.”

All in all 25 scratchboard works and six paintings will be on display. The paintings were created from the 1940s to late 1950s; scratchboards are from 1940s to late 1960s.

“New View: Janet Turner Paintings and Scratchboards” is made possible by the donation of these works to the Turner collection by Vernon and Marie Fish, local collectors of Turner’s works.

“While Janet regarded the scratchboard and paintings as preparatory for her print works, the late Vernon and Marie Fish included them in their personal retrospective collection of Turner’s work. The importance of these scratchboard and painting works is they demonstrate the breadth of Janet’s skill in expressing personal artistry in a variety of media. They exhibit a spontaneity that is sometimes muted in the printmaking translation.”

A select number of prints from the Turner Collection that expand on the “New View” exhibition at the museum will be displayed in the Ayres Hall first floor cases on the CSU, Chico campus.

For more information on the exhibition, call Sullivan at 898-4476 or visit www.janetturner.org. Groups and classes can go online to make arrangements for visits to The Turner, including visits outside the public viewing hours. The website has a section for class applications for docent tours and related activities. This form should be submitted prior to the visit to ensure a productive and educational experience for the class.

Please note that the Normal Avenue Parking Lot, located across from CSU, Chico’s Performing Arts Center, is closed while construction commences on a new parking structure; parking is available near the Meriam Library on nearby Chico streets and also at adjacent Chico State parking lots.

The Janet Turner Print Museum is part of the School of the Arts at CSU, Chico. To see a video of art exhibitions presented during 2012-2013 by The Turner and University Art Gallery please visit http://bit.ly/Pvz2HH.

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Curator's Statement

For more information on Janet Turner please read Roger Lederer's excellent piece,
"Those Amazing Birds: Janet Turner, Bird Artist," and her biography on the Turner website.