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Michael Berkhemer Biography

When Michael Berkhemer, the elegant Dutch painter with his deceptively simple yet ultimately complex language of abstraction and color, arrived in St. Louis in 1999 to print with me, one thing was clear – we were going to need more ink and a strategy to get it on the plates in way never seen before. House paint rollers seemed to be in order—dozens of them. And what—thirty, forty pounds of ink in five days? This was not printing for the faint of heart—wet on wet, sliding plates, and paper so big and heavy with ink that Michael’s subsequent visits to Wildwood Press would be forever known as the Big Paper Rodeo.

In order to keep up with Michael’s ambition, the studio continues to be a place of invention. In 2000, Michael’s iconic ellipse gave rise to our use of laser-cut steel plates—now a studio staple. In 2002 and 2005 his puzzle plates became more complicated and we honed our skills in cutting and acrobatic placement with each visit.

Above all, Michael’s finished work—his layer upon layer of color, the reveal/the sliver of light beside a deep pool of a shape and hue, and his intense concern with the center heightened by his purposeful disregard of the margin—confirms his self-proclaimed place as a painter who prints.

Maryanne Ellison Simmons
Printer Publisher Wildwood Press

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