have the hairy texture of a friendly monster. His bridges dance, his hills are scoops of ice cream, and his outlines have the happy confidence of a toddler. These are exuberant block prints.
I don’t have any first-hand information about his technique, but looking at these images it seems to me that Spitzer is very careful and deliberate with his thick black outlines, and then spontaneous and impromptu with his textures and carving out the inside areas. Most of the time he seems to use only one blade for everything, although the very top edge and corners of the sky
in “Hurley Bridge” and “Bridge at Damping Wind” appear to have been done with a wider blade. Obviously this is no accident - Spitzer has deliberately chosen the blade and carving style that will leave all those little dashes of ink, and he carves in different patterns depending on the design he wants (mostly horizontals, or following the curve of the outlines).
I would probably have guessed that these pieces were from the 60s, but they’re actually all from the early 90s. I don’t have any examples of what sort of work Spitzer might have been doing back in the 60s except 2 muddy, angular acrylics posted at the same gallery. But whatever influences contributed to Spitzer’s wood block aesthetic, this is clearly his own particular style, and I find it delightful.
[Pictures: Hurley Bridge, woodcut by James Spitzer, 1991;
Bridge at Damping Wind, woodcut by Spitzer, 1992;
Bodega Near the Bay, woodcut by Spitzer, 1990;
Rhone River, woodcut by Spitzer, 1990;
The Overpass at Ringaway Ave, woodcut by Spitzer, 1991
(All images from The Annex Galleries).]