Golden Eagle Artist Supply and Nick and Toni’s restaurant are next door neighbors on North Main Street in East Hampton so it was logical they joined forces to present “A Night Out With …” and the community is so much better for it.
On select Wednesday nights throughout winter, different artists will demonstrate or talk about their artwork, at times giving participants a hands-on experience. After the studio presentation, the group enjoys dinner in the cozy back room of the restaurant and chats about art and life.
Last week, husband and wife Dan Rizzie and Susan Lazarus-Reimen put on quite a show. Both artists attended the University of Texas but didn’t realize that their history was entwined when they met. “We knew a lot of the same people but not each other,” Ms. Lazarus-Reimen said.
By the time their paths crossed at Nick and Toni’s in 1989, Mr. Rizzie was a world-renowned artist. “I have prints in the Museum of Modern Art and hanging in Abu Dhabi, don’t I?” he said, setting a tone of self-deprecation that continued throughout the night to comic effect, with Ms. Lazarus-Reimen playing the straight man.
“I’ll talk too much,” Mr. Rizzie said. “Stop me.”
Both artists demonstrated the art of monotyping, a type of printmaking, on a simple etching press. Mr. Rizzie began with a dry process. “She’s more of a wet printer,” he said. “I do mostly dry printing.”
Monotyping produces one work at a time, as opposed to the ability to make multiple images, as with etching. “Monotype is a lot different, a lot more freer,” said Mr. Rizzie, who started to explain the difference using a Rembrandt work hanging on the wall of the studio.
“Hold on one minute,” Ms. Lazarus-Reimen said, grabbing a copper plate previously etched by Mr. Rizzie, where his bird imagery was created with acid.
“Once you rub ink into that and wipe it, it collects in that valley,” Mr. Rizzie said of the barely visible lines.
He began simply enough, by teaching the class how to rip a 30-inch piece of paper in half. “Handle paper properly. Lay it down on a line, ripping it from the back so you don’t see an edge,” he said. “You want to keep the deckled edge. Be as frugal as you can.”
“There’s so many wonderful, different papers out there,” Ms. Lazarus-Reimen said. “You want the edges to look nice and pretty like Dan’s here.”
During wartimes, when paper was expensive, the image was printed on a better piece of paper than the backing, called chine-collé. “I love the way it looks,” said Dan. “I’m showing you how to do a homemade chine-collé.”
With help from his wife, Mr. Rizzie layers the press with a plain square copper plate, very thin Japanese paper with a rough side and shiny side, sprayed with adhesive, and covered with a series of blankets. Once the thinnest layer, called a “pusher,” and two thicker felt “cushions” are placed on top, the wheel was turned, pushing the package through the printer.
“You don’t want to stop in middle,” Mr. Rizzie said. “What if it doesn’t work? ”
“It will be fine,” Ms. Lazarus-Reimen assured.
After peeling the paper off the press, he held it up. “What we have here is a dirty piece of paper.”
“You need a clean press bed otherwise particles will transfer,” Ms. Lazarus Reimen said.
Mr. Rizzie did a little work in advance by spray painting black splotches onto another sheet of paper and drew outlines of circles. He then glued circular black, red, yellow, orange, blue and purple pieces of paper onto those, in order to create depth or the impression of three dimensions.
He was aiming for an image similar to the cover of his beautiful book, “Dan Rizzie,” printed by the University of Texas Press. In the end, this artwork was auctioned off to one lucky person in the audience. You could hear a pin drop as he placed everything back on the press and turned the crank.
“Drum roll please,” he said peeling the image off the press for the last time.
“Does it have depth?” It had more than depth. It had a value everyone in the room yearned for. Any monetary value was dimmed by the amount of joy the artwork clearly represented.
“Now I’ll show you a wet print,” said Ms. Lazarus-Reimen, who chose a hand-carved heart-shape template, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
“I usually use oil-based. Today I’m using water-based to be expeditious,” she said.
“That’s a big word,” her husband said. “Expeditious.”
She completely covered the heart and another square plate with fuchsia paint using a roller and then took a paper doily she bought at the Sag Harbor Variety Store.
“You always have to think in reverse,” said Mr. Rizzie, helping her apply the doily. “When I try to think backwards I can’t.”
Moving to the other side of the studio, she lifts her paper from its water bath. “Hold paper on the corner so water drips out,” she said. The wet paper was placed between two towels and a large rolling pin was used to squeeze out the excess water before it was placed onto the press.
“Just embossing is a very cool thing to do,” said Ms. Lazarus-Reimen holding up a plain piece of paper embossed with the heart.
Her finished artwork was still simple yet bold. The center of the heart remained a negative space surrounded by “lace” and fuchsia.
“Wet print has to be weighted down as it dries,” she said.
Ms. Lazarus-Reimen stressed the need for experimentation and collaboration. “When working in a print shop, watch others,” she said. “There’s a million things you can do. The more you do it, the more fun you have. It’s amazing.”
She showed the audience previous works of art incorporating string, fabric and other materials.
“I never throw anything away,” Mr. Rizzie added. “There’s no such thing as a mistake.”
When his wife picked up an image of their dog by Mr. Rizzie, it was obvious to him, time was up. “You all deserve a medal for sitting through this,” he said. “Let’s eat.”
At Nick and Toni’s, one table included Golden Eagle owner Nancy Rowan; Kirsten Benfield, who has been working at the restaurant for 23 years and is also a watercolorist; teacher and Golden Eagle’s Artist of the Month photographer Michele Dragonetti who will present on March 21st; and painter Carol Sigler.
“We ordered Corpse Revivers in honor of Dan and Susan who drink them at brunch every Sunday,” said Ms. Benfield.
“It’s also an acupuncture point,” said Ms. Sigler, who was not only the first acupuncturist in the area but the first on the East Coast to put solar panels on her home. The meal and the company could not have been better.
Toasting the crowd, Mr. Rizzi declared, “Without my beautiful wife, I’m just a jerk.”
“Oh no you’re not,” she replied.
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One fine body…