ON VIEW THRU NOVEMBER 30, 2023: Printmaker and weaver Blaine Davis shares prints, linocuts, copper plate etchings, and tapestries that showcase his life’s creative work.
Davis has always been drawn to the symbols, used by Depression-era, nomadic workers called hobos to convey information, directions, help, and warnings to fellow “Knights of the Road.” The title work consists of nine Hobo symbols arranged in a grid which reminded Davis of a game of tic-tac-toe. “I have used these symbols in my work for a long time, but this was the first instance where I included this much color, and I’m quite happy with the result,” says Davis. “I first used these symbols over 30 years ago. They were with me before all of the rest of the ideas and images in this show, and are still being used. I like the idea of my work with these symbols as a framing reference for the show.”
Davis’ copper plate etchings are the result of a process he calls “controlled accidents” – experiments with addition and subtraction. “There is usually no plan,” he explains. “I just see what happens using various techniques, adding layers, and sometimes chopping whole sections of the plate away to edit the piece. The plates can go into the acid numerous times while I keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.” Davis’ linocuts, on the other hand, are planned and he uses them to play with color and form. For example, he created the “Brazil” series after a trip to that country, using images and colors to which he was drawn.
This exhibition also includes some of Davis’ tapestries. “I’ve been weaving longer than I’ve been printing, and I enjoy that process, too,” he explains. “While some of my tapestries are planned, others are created spontaneously, depending on what I want to do at the loom on any given day.” One large piece in the exhibition is the result of a collaboration with other members of Contemporary Handweavers of Houston. Others include some that Davis wove during a residency in Iceland a few years ago, and a second version of his favorite tapestry, the first being long sold.
“I wish I had some all-encompassing story to tell about my process for making art,” says Davis, “but, for the most part, it just happens, and I’m happy to go along for the ride.”
Blaine Davis grew up in Maine, Idaho, and Wisconsin. He moved to Texas after graduating from college in 1975. Four years later he received a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and went to work as a librarian for the Houston Public Library. At that point, he also began taking art classes at the Glassell School in Houston where he eventually found his way to the printmaking studio. He currently makes his art at Burning Bones Press, a cooperative press in the Houston Heights. He is also a tapestry weaver.