Evan X. Merz

musician/technologist/human being

Discovering Bay Area linocut artist Melissa West

Yesterday I went to the SF Bay Area Printers' Fair and Wayzgoose. It was a fabulous and interesting event. I was so glad to see prints by so many local artists and printers. I enjoyed talking to everyone I met there, but I spent the most time at the booth of artist Melissa .

Most booths at the fair had around a dozen different prints to peruse, but I was blown away by Melissa's prolific output. Melissa must have had close to 100 unique pieces there if you don't count the 50 she did as illustrations in a book she was selling. Every piece was a handmade linocut with no digital processes involved. I spent time leafing through every single piece there.

Another thing that impressed me in West's work was her textual fluency. Her work incorporates numerous references to other works of art and culture. She had many pieces that mimicked style elements in medieval art, including a series about saints that portrayed figures in a Byzantine style. I particularly liked St. Christina the Astonishing.

I was also impressed simply by the quality of her work. Despite her massive output, every piece reflects a fluency with linocut that I see in very few artists. She has clearly devoted a lot of her life to the craft, and the time has been well spent.

As usual, I picked up a couple pieces to add to my own collection. I think this surreal landscape will look great next to my pieces by Sam Hyde Harris.

El Viento, a surreal landscape by Melissa West

And this piece made me laugh. I think it will look good in my in-laws' house. Their house is adorned with artifacts relating to vehicles and travel.

The Rapture of the SUVs, by Melissa West

I encourage you to check out Melissa West's work and pick up a print. Put something beautiful on your walls.

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Evan X. Merz

Evan X. Merz holds degrees in computer science and music from The University of Rochester, Northern Illinois University, and University of California at Santa Cruz. He is a programmer, musician, and author of Empress blog software. He makes his online home at evanxmerz.com.