Alibi V.28 No.47 • Nov 21-27, 2019 

Art Magnified

Serendipity at the Wheel

The monotypes of Paula Panich

The monotypes of Paula Panich on display at Hartford Square Café.
The monotypes of Paula Panich on display at Hartford Square Café.
Photo by Clarke Condé

Falling somewhere between a painting and a print, the monotype is really neither. Created by pressing ink that has been applied to a sheet of plexiglass into paper, the result is a one-of-a-kind piece that inherently lacks many of the benefits of either the painting or the printmaking process. It requires a press, but does not allow for the creation of multiple, identical prints that the thing was made for. It requires that you paint directly on a surface, but does not allow for the precision that placing paint directly on something affords you. Instead, what you gain is serendipity; the beauty that comes from not knowing and simply spinning the wheel to see what you have created. As the great painter Bob Ross often encouraged, “We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

Paula Panich uses the monotype technique to embrace imperfection and the freedom that comes from chance. Her Landscape and Field Series consists of six prints, the first of the row is pictured above, hanging just feet from the expediting area of the kitchen. It reflects the ease of the process and the serenity that comes with accepting things out of your control. Her colors and lines are primitive, showing a handmade process that does not take itself too seriously. The busy Hartford Square Café, with its brunchy crowd and clanking cutlery may not at first seem like the best way to see artwork, but Panich’s work fits beautifully into its surroundings. They’ll let you stand there and look at it for a few minutes at least without anyone asking what you are doing. Maybe get a cup of coffee and linger a bit longer.

We find our art where we find it here in Albuquerque. This is not a city with snobby tendencies that rule out displaying top-notch artwork in bars, breweries, restaurants, walls and low-riding canvases crawling along our streets. Panich’s monotypes are a perfect reflection of that easy, accepting philosophy that fills the city with serendipity and unexpected surprises. Take a chance. Wander in. Have a look.

The Monotype: Creation/Destruction
By Paula Panich
On display through December
Hartford Square Café
218 Gold Ave. SW
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