By Angela Noel
January 25, 2018
I hold Josh Bindewald partially responsible for one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had. As the Exhibitions and Artists Cooperative Manager at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis, Josh invited his wife, Sarah, to bring a few friends to the gallery for an evening exhibition. Sarah and I met up with a few other people for drinks before the public show and headed over to the event. Among the genuinely beautiful pieces of art, a performance artists with shaggy hair, a microphone, and a (hopefully) fake pile of feces, writhed on the floor.
Memorable to say the least.
Josh is also responsible for one of my favorite romantic lines, said to his bride on their wedding day. I loved it so much I asked to include it in the novel I was writing at the time. While looking into Sarah’s eyes and reciting the vows he’d written, Josh said, “Sarah, I feel noticeably wrong without you.” Now, that’s the kind of love I can’t resist. When a love grows so strong its presence is part of the fabric of life as we know it–beauty can be the only result.
And that, as it happens, is Josh’s philosophy for his printmaking.
Printmaking is a study in patience. It requires a vision. Then, depending on the technique, transforming that vision into its mirror image. Next, the artist makes a type of stamp from wood, metal, or other material capable of holding ink. Pressing paper to the “stamp” creates a print–the artist’s vision manifest. Sometimes it’s a one-time thing, where only one print can be made. Other times, a printmaker will do a series with variations on the theme to produce the desired effect.
Some artists might tell you they’re trying to change the world or to comment on it in a way that brings about a kind of necessary evolution in thought or deed. But that’s not what Josh is after with his art. He’s after the moment of beauty that begs the viewer to stop for the space of a deep breath or two. And it’s that sweet spot, when you’re not quite not thinking, but not quite thinking, where art fails description. This kind of art isn’t sending a particular message so much as it’s inviting you in to create your own.
Just like the words he said to Sarah on their wedding day: Beauty is both the thing we never knew we needed and the one thing we can’t possibly live without.
Life in Color
When I look at some of Josh’s work, I see a type of coherent color explosion. At Bradley University, where Josh earned his Graduate of Arts degree in printmaking, he learned many things. But the most profound new understanding he came away with was the use and purpose of color in printmaking. The deliberate contrasts and the shape the color takes bring out the architectural or organic elements in new ways. The same print made from the same zinc stamp, for example, changes as color and other images play on the page. There’s no deep message there except this: Reusing the plate, “echoes how we as humans interact with our natural world,” Josh says. It’s the same, but different. It’s us, but not us.
Like many artists, Josh always feels like there’s that next project thrumming in his brain. Art is both an outlet and a contribution. He feels the need to create and wants to make his vision reality. He wants people to connect with the work and to have it strike that feeling of beauty. In a way, Josh’s art is as intimate as the wedding ceremony he and Sarah designed. It’s not meant to mean something to everyone. It’s only meant to mean something to those who see the beauty in it, and once known, feels noticeably wrong without it.
How we experience art is as much about what we’re bringing to it as it is about the object itself. To me, Josh’s work makes me wonder what’s next. What kinds of things will he explore in color and shape that take me out of my ever-thinking mind and help me experience a space between?
Whether it’s inviting me into the weird or the wonderful, artists like Josh help make all kinds of moments memorable.
Your turn: What do you think is beautiful? What kind of art interests you?