John Beerman’s prints, like his paintings, are meticulously crafted landscape visions which capture the essence of time, place and space. Whether views of the Hudson River, the southwest, or the eastern seaboard, Beerman’s subtle is reminiscent of the luminist painters of the 19th century yet thoroughly contemporary in spirit and point of view. Unlike his paintings, John Beerman’s works of art on paper are the result of a remarkable collaboration, a collaboration both personal and professional.
Hudson River Editions, a fine art press founded by master printer Sylvia Roth in 1981, is located in South Nyack, New York, in an ornate Victorian house filled with past artistic connotations. Artist Joseph Cornell was born in the house in 1903. Ralph M. Pearson, artist, author and educator, lived in the house in the late 1930s and 40s, and used the house as the site of the Design Workshop, an independent school focusing on art training and theory. Indeed, Sylvia Roth learned that Pearson’s etching press was located in the sun-filled room which currently serves as Hudson River Edition’s studio. Pearson’s wide-ranging associations with contemporary artists, his publication of numerous books and articles advancing the case of modern art, and his interest in the landscape of the southwest (echoed 50 years later in John Beerman’s New Mexican landscapes), all provide a fitting preface to the activity currently underway at Hudson River Editions.
John Beerman began to work with Sylvia Roth in 1983, and his first Hudson River Editions were, appropriately, a series based on images of the Hudson River and surrounding landscape. In 1988, John married Sylvia’s daughter Susan Roth Beerman, herself a painter and printer as well as a psycho-therapist. Throughout John and Sylvia’s many collaborations, the color etchings and monoprints have gained in both virtuosity and technical complexity. The collaborations represent a symbiotic relationship, with John challenging Sylvia’s technical skill and Sylvia training John in new ways of layering color to build structure, depth and atmosphere.
John Beerman’s color etchings are complex undertakings, each requiring the printing of multiple plates on fine German etching paper. Broad bands of bright, often fluorescent and transparent inks are printed first, much in the way underpainting is built up on John’s canvases. The final aquatinted plates each carry parts of the image – a tree, clouds, or rolling hill, for example – and the colors be3come more subtle and muted. After the landscape has been printed, marbleized or gold leaf borders are added, an integral element in all of John Beerman’s work. The paper support, the framing elements, and the landscape image all interact to create prints which relate, though stand uniquely apart, from the painting.