Kreg Yingst - 50th Anniversary Gallery #6
Little Brother Montgomery - by Kreg Yingst
2 color block print
10” x 10”
This piece was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Attic Gallery on Washington Street in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
In 1930, just a year after the great stock market crash, one of my favorite artist’s Lynd Ward released his second woodcut novel, Madman’s Drum, while barrelhouse blues pianist Little Brother Montgomery released his signature song, Vicksburg Blues. An influence on Willie Dixon, Otis Span, and Skip James, Montgomery would play in nightspots in Vicksburg and Gulfport, Mississippi, as well as New Orleans.
Montgomery led his own Jackson-based Southland Troubadors, sometimes broadcasting on local stations such as WCOC in Meridian, to advertise the band's appearances. The group, which also toured several states billed as the Collegiate Ramblers, never recorded, but as a solo pianist or with only one accompanist, Montgomery cut twenty-two blues sides, all released on singles on the Bluebird label, in 1935-36.
Eventually he settled in Chicago, playing numerous venues and accompanying blues greats, Memphis Minnie, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, and Buddy Guy. He would continue to play and tour until his death in 1985.
If I recall correctly, I first met the owner of the gallery, Lesley Silver, while exhibiting at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Lesley’s friendliness and warmth, as well as her knowledge concerning my work, won me over. I would continue to see Lesley off and on throughout the years while doing shows in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. One could always expect to see her, wagon in tow, hauling prized possessions of her favorite artists back to the gallery. The gallery over the years has become a virtual wonderland, covered wall to wall with paintings, mixed media and the like, featuring a number of the best artists in the south.
With some of the best known galleries in the United States unable to stay afloat throughout the years, it’s quite an amazing achievement for Lesley and Daniel to reach this 50-year milestone! Congratulations!
Initially trained as a painter (BA and MA), I first became interested in relief blockprints when I
discovered the woodcut novels of printmakers Lynd Ward and Frans Masereel. The strong graphic
contrasts of light and shadow, and black and white, seemed to appeal to my aesthetic senses. I quickly
delved into the work of the German Expressionists and Mexican Socialists, and perhaps have been
influenced in some way by all.
My blockprints are carved out of wood or linoleum - a compression of cork, wood pulp, and
linseed oil. I print each block on an obsolete Showcard sign press, and the larger prints I burnish by hand.
The choice of paper and cutting style are important in trying to create the correct feel for the subject matter.
My ideas are a result of my interests in narrative; story, poetry, lyric, and personal experience.
The narrative aspect of lyrics was a natural progression for me in developing artistic ideas. The
blues legend, Robert Johnson, became an early study in Faustian narrative myth, while many other
musicians had their own unique stories to tell. From there, it was simply the beginning of a series, or cycle of prints. I’ve worked in this method for the past 20 years as it allows me the opportunity to fully exhaust my ideas and flesh out the subject matter. I enjoy researching the history of the blues, country, jazz, and Americana, while the rock series is deeply imbedded in personal experience.
It was with purpose I created my small images the same size as a CD cover, the round images the
same as a 45 record, the mat similar in size to an album cover, and the medium size prints scaled to
resemble old music posters. The print bin creates the same recollection of browsing through albums in a
record store. It’s been my intention to foster a nostalgia or retro experience, while still making the art
uniquely my own.
Lesley remembers: I've always loved Kreg's work. He has such a distinctive style and his block prints are done with such care and quality. Even though he is one of our 21st Century artists, his work is a connection to our early days when original graphics including block prints were a big part of the Attic. His focus on blues musicians is such a great fit, and I always learn more about the subject from his work. Traveling to shows to get new artwork for the gallery is a lot of work, but getting to visit with artists like Kreg makes it fun.
Most of the pieces featured were created new for these, and are for sale. To purchase, call Lesley at the Attic Gallery: 601 638 9221. firstname.lastname@example.org
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