When it comes to viewing printmaking in the Valley, all roads lead to the Lankershim Arts Center. It's a fine place to see art, even if the gallery hours are severely limited.
It is open only about 15 hours a week, but as the official home of the Los Angeles Printmaking Society, the gallery can be relied upon to show the diversity of the print medium.
The companion shows "Of Time and Place," a portfolio of printmaking work celebrating the century in art, and "Common Ground," an exhibition of work by members of the American Print Alliance Council, which includes groups from the United States and Canada, add up to an eyeful.
In "Time and Place," Karl Kasten pays tribute to bygone legends of the printmaking realm in "Four Printmakers." Expressionist woodcut heroine Kathe Kollwitz is represented, as are artists better known for their painting--Gauguin, Degas and Stanley Hayter.
In the same show, James Reed's fastidious rendering of a Victorian house in San Francisco impresses with its evidence of simple drafting skill.
Similar ability can be seen in David Smith Harrison's desert setting, with a neatly etched palm tree, part of the "Common Ground" show, which is traveling around the country through next year.
The more extensive traveling exhibit makes clear that the illustrative milieu of printmaking often has its own expressive code.
Crude charm fuels Andrea Ondish's "Till Death Do Us Part," a woodcut of a Punch and Judy show, that innocent yet violent tradition of "child's play."
There is Rosemary Feit Covey's charismatic view of peasants in church. An angular figure in the throes of toil is the subject of Art Hazelwood's "Shoveling."
Jerril Dean Green-Kopp's "Burning Churches, Burning Questions" is a thickly plotted composition in which flames threaten stability.
From a mixed-media perspective, Robin McCloskey's "Bicycle" draws its intrigue through the friendly tension between printmaking and the photographed image.
A similar mixture of effects is seen in Susan Mackin Dolan's use of digital photo etching and hand-coloring, with a mythic-looking result.
Diana Kleiner veers into the realm of sculpture with her rolled-up artist's book, "Iguol y Diferente XIII," an etching and photogravure on handmade paper, curling into a standing scroll.
Ann Klingensmith's "The Gift" is a color reduction woodcut of lovers embracing, its emotion heightened into the realm of the erotic by swirling lines and surreal colors.
Color is used for emotional effect, as well, in Art Werger's "Lead Astray," an atmospheric overhead view of an urban street corner bathed in sensual anticipation.
One of the most striking and visually conceptual pieces of the lot is William Fisher's "Dissertation Physique," which blends layers of imagery in a provocative way. A vintage portrait of a Boy Scout is layered with a transparent screen with faces blown up to the point of being abstract newspaper photograph dots, questioning perception.
Caroline Thorington's "July 4th Picnic" uses the lithographic medium to portray lounging picnickers seen from a detached overhead vantage point. The work accentuates the everyday oddity of the situation in a way that a painting might not have captured with such understatement.
The implicit message contained in this generally fine outpouring of work in the two shows is that the printmaking medium is one that thrives and evolves of its own volition, often without much ongoing support from the art scene at large. Printmakers need love, too, and they deserve it.
"Common Ground" and "Of Time and Place," through July 17 at Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Thursday-Saturday, 2-5 p.m. (818) 752-2682.