"Through the Dusk, a Light" at Recspec Gallery

Annalise Gratovich prints up a bright array of time and place

Tell Me When It Rains by Annalise Gratovich

Annalise Gratovich creates her prints by hand from start to finish, carving wood, etching metal, dyeing paper, and using manual printing presses to create multiple originals from her woodcuts and copper etchings.

That's the craft of what she does, as cribbed from her website, and that craft is prodigious in many ways.

The art of Gratovich's work is in the images she creates via those arcane (to us laypeople) methods, the themes she explores with those images and those methods. In "Through the Dusk, a Light," the artist's solo show at Recspec Gallery, the creations on display are about "the places for which the heart yearns."

This is the second show at Recspec's new space on the south side of our city, the gallery now ensconced among industrial offices and such just a few wandering blocks away from the Yard on St. Elmo. (You may recall Recspec as one of the evacuees when the old Flatbed World Headquarters was displaced last year by, oh, let's call it the Relentless Forces of Late-Stage Capitalism.) This new space, all stark white walls and much less shotgun-shack than the former venue – it looks precisely like the image of an art gallery in a person's mind's stock-photo section – and it does well by Gratovich's large prints and the smaller collages that are built from carefully excised portions of other prints, presenting her colorful and precise graphics with plenty of room for separate consideration and a fine rhythm to the sequence of display.

Those graphics, ah, yeah. Gratovich continues to explore a many-peopled mythos to excellent effect, her suites of figures resembling, if one must offer a comparative description in words alone, some ongoing series of expressive Matryoshka dolls designed by Hayao Miyazaki on commission from God. You know? But all of them thoroughly her own creations and accompanied by much personal – often Southwesternly botanical – iconography. They're the sort of things you can easily recognize from across a room, although the complexity of details within the larger prints invites scrutiny for a lot of long, delighted minutes.

But there's an extra element to this show that's also maybe the best thing about it. Because Gratovich has a small working studio adjoining the Recspec Gallery space, and if you stop by during the gallery's open hours on Saturdays, you can also take a peek inside that studio – and see the actual huge woodcuts and smaller etched matrices that the artist cuts her images into for printing. Now, no one thinks such beautiful work just appears ex nihilo ... but, when you see the very artifacts of the process, it stuns you anew with evidence of how much labor goes into manifesting those framed instances of beauty and depth on the gallery walls. And of course the artifacts are, themselves, another kind of impressive beauty.

All of which, we suggest, is helping to make this elegant new Recspec Gallery one of those places for which the heart yearns.

"Annalise Gratovich: Through the Dusk, a Light"

Recspec Gallery, 4825 Weidemar #700, 512/906-6116, www.recspec-gallery.com
Through March 7

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