Black Swamp Arts Festival has been music to the ears of Best of Show winner Chris Plummer

Chris Plummer in his booth at the 2015 Black Swamp Arts Festival.

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

For Kentucky printmaker Chris Plummer, a change of scenery shifted his gaze to the landscape.

About two years ago Plummer quit his job at the Kroger bakery and moved with his family from the outskirts of Cincinnati to a more rural part of Kentucky. “I do a lot fields and barns because that’s what I see around me now.”

Before he focused on woodprints that depicted slices of stories that reflected the angst of folks on the edge between the country and suburbs.

Now he creates colorful monoprints, abstracted color landscapes, all inspired by scenes within a few miles of his home.

“With woodcuts, for whatever reason, I tend to focus on what is wrong, and with monoprints what I’m looking at is the beauty around me.”

Plummer had started to experiment with monoprints, as well as painting, before he moved. Now that has taken hold.

Those prints were praised by the jurors at the 2015 Black Swamp Arts Festival when he won Best of Show honors. He also took the top prize at the festival in 2013.

Plummer said he’s heard a lot of positive reactions to the newer work, though some people have said they prefer his older work. Still others noted that they like that he’s continuing to change as an artist.

“I know a lot of people find what works and stick to that,” he said. “To me that would be boring.”

Though he’s done as many as 20 shows a year, Plummer has settled into doing about a dozen. He particularly likes college towns with their bookstores and coffee shops, and younger buyers.

As a music fan, Plummer enjoys the acts at the Black Swamp Arts Festival. In 2007, his first visit to the Black Swamp fest, he discovered Alejandro Escovedo and has been a fan ever since. This year he’s looking forward to seeing Pokey LaFarge live. His booth in the center of the show gives him a front row seat for those performing on the Community Stage.

Plummer didn’t set out to sell work on the art fair circuit. In fact, after working for an artist who did the circuit, he saw how much work it was and told himself that was not the path for him.

Then in 2001, a couple year after graduating from the University of Northern Kentucky, he exhibited at a fair. Plummer won an award and he decided this was a way he could realize his goal of earning a living through his art.

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The Black Swamp Arts Festival has been a main stay on his schedule.

Plummer expects his work will continue to evolve. He’d planned to focus on the monoprints for a while and then return to the woodcuts.

The technique for monoprints yields only one print with each taking about three hours to complete. With woodcuts he can work on a print over several weeks and produce editions of multiple prints.

Already he has experimented with doing graphite rubbing on some old prints as a way of adding texture.

“With monoprints it’s all about texture,” he said.

He’s created a woodprint “trying to mimic look of monoprints,” Plummer said.

Still he’s not sure what the next stage of work will look like. “It’ll definitely be different.”

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