Breathing Spaces

In 2005, Highpoint Editions proudly presented Breathing Spaces, an exhibition featuring prints from a three-year collaboration between Boston-based artist Joel Janowitz and Master Printer Cole Rogers. Among the lithographs and monotypes on view are scenes from the Wellesley greenhouse (a space that Janowitz has long explored) and images of dogs engaged in gestural play. Janowitz is well known for his masterful ability to instill a realistic setting with a dream-like, meditative mood, and these qualities are prominent in the new work. The artist shared some thoughts about the collaboration in a recent e-mail interview. Looking back on the overall progression of the work, Janowitz said, “At the time I don’t think any of us knew that this would be the beginning of a three-year lithography project? I am excited about the work we have accomplished.”

The story of Joel Janowitz’s collaboration at Highpoint begins in 2002, when Cole Rogers and Executive Director Carla McGrath invited the artist to visit Highpoint and begin a new body of prints. Janowitz traveled to Highpoint that July, where he worked on a variety of litho plates and stones. The greenhouse imagery and “Dark Dog” images produced during the visit would set the theme for the overall project.

After Janowitz departed, Rogers and staff pulled additional lithographs from these original sources. Some of them were mailed to the artist, who layered on additional monotype in his Boston studio; others were editioned here at HP. Over time, more prints and drawings were sent back and forth in this fashion. Another short trip to Minneapolis by Janowitz added to the momentum and informed the project even more.

Although the painter found himself “fighting against [printmaking’s] natural flatness and searching for an elusive subtlety of color” early in the project, through experimentation at HP and in his studio he came to enjoy the medium’s unique effects and element of surprise. Janowitz credits Highpoint’s directors as having deeply and positively influenced this experience. “Thanks to the mastery and creativity of Cole, and the endless patience, understanding, and trust of both Cole and Carla, we began to find solutions that both honored the medium and felt right for my work.”

The resulting prints faithfully capture Janowitz’s unique artistic vision and delicate, painterly hand. As different environments coexist in a greenhouse space, clear representation and mysterious abstraction come together in these new prints. In Janowitz’s greenhouses, lighting and color have been exaggerated or muted to an unnatural degree. Yet, the viewer is able to gather a complete picture of the space—one that is inviting and evocative of misty air and thriving plantlife, but viewed through the lens of another time or place.

Janowitz explains his longstanding fascination with the Wellesley greenhouse: “Within this structure I have found a visual metaphor for the simultaneity of multiple ways of seeing, as well as for the many filters through which we see and understand the world.”