Englewood papermaker Ray Tomasso’s new works exhibited

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“‘Forgotten Latitudes’ is a new series of work in paper, exploring the textures of the blank spaces on maps. It is a search for the isolation, the wind and passage of time that takes place here unnoticed by anyone. The work evokes the names of places that have been changed or have never existed,” said Ray Tomasso’s artist’s statement about his new exhibit at Ice Cube Gallery in Denver, where he has exhibited previously. “Forgotten Latitudes” runs through Sept. 14.

Tomasso has lived and worked in Englewood since 1980, with his Inter-Ocean Curiosity Studio, where he pulverizes rags and makes handmade papers, in addition to housing a collection of antique letterpresses.

He was born in Omaha, Neb., in 1949, studied art and printmaking and created his first work of art in paper in 1974. He received an MFA in printmaking from CU-Boulder in 1979, where he studied with Clinton Cline and Robert B. Ecker.

After locating his studio in Englewood, he traveled internationally studying papers, history and techniques in this ancient craft. He was involved in founding the International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists, headquartered in Switzerland.

He has exhibited his art locally and internationally and continued to operate his studio.

His website has photographs of the complicated and lengthy process involved in creating each work. He offers a condensed description:

“A composition is set up using string, tape, found objects and textures, both found and made. The work to be cast represents a mirror image with the negative space above the composition.

“The work is made up of three layers of new, wet handmade paper, dropped from the paper mould. The first two layers are of recycled archival rag paper to capture the texture of the composition, the third layer is blue jean for strength and shrinkage. The result is a sheet of paper 8’x 8’ or 8’x 12’.

“This is glued to a wooden frame, sanded, and paint and pure pigment are applied. The surface is finished with layer after layer of paint and pigment with an eye to enhancing the textural qualities of the surface.”

His works are abstract and powerful, with varied linear and textural effects, different from most work an art lover sees in this area.

When RTD was building the Southwest Light Rail line, Tomasso was commissioned to create art for the Englewood station. It is made of cast glass, with found objects embedded in it, which show when light flows through.

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