Eric Holch’s timeless prints brighten the wharf

Article from Inquirer & Mirror,
August 4, 2016. Photos by Nicole Harnishfeger.

By Dean Geddes –

For more than 30 years the iconic serigraph prints of Eric Holch have captured the timeless beauty of Nantucket, evoking memories of summer afternoons at the beach and breathtaking sunsets over the harbor.

Holch’s work is rich with vibrant colors, depicting picturesque landscapes of the island in season. Each print is handmade by Holch, who meticulously cuts silkscreen films and layers the colors one at a time, from light to dark, onto his canvas.To do one edition of a print, the process can take up to four months, with the precise cutting of the films taking up to a month on its own.

“Basically you’re cutting an opening in the silk for the color to come through, then when you pull the squeegee across the screen it squishes through the screen into the paper, just through the area you’ve cut. You’ve blocked out everything except where you want the color to go,” Holch said. “It’s a really exciting process because the print slowly comes to life.”

It’s a process so precise that it can be affected by the weather and humidity outside. To compensate, much of Holch’s work features slivers of white outlining the colors.

“If you have a dark color next to a light color and you have a little sliver of white in the middle it kind of makes the colors pop more, it separates the color. But that’s also a technical trick I use, so if the paper contracts or expands (because of the weather) that sliver just gets a little bigger or smaller (instead of the colors bleeding across each other). It allows me to print when it rains for three straight days,” Holch said.

Originally, Holch began showcasing his work at the The Granary Gallery (now Slip 14 restaurant) before moving to his own gallery at 10 Old South Wharf. But things have come full circle with Holch now showcasing his work at The Brown Basket Gallery at 9 Old South Wharf.

“I’d had a great time and had a good run, so I just decided to try ‘Plan B,’ which was actually ‘Plan A’ some 30 years ago, having someone else carry my work,” Holch said.

Holch used to be set up right next to the Brown Basket Gallery and shared a wall with owner Jerry Brown. So for him it’s kind of like moving in next door. The collaboration works well as Brown uses display cases for his baskets, leaving the walls open for Holch’s artwork.The space is finite so Holch displays his best-selling, most iconic works like the beach umbrellas, town scenes and “The Whale” poster on Old South Wharf, what he called the “bread and butter” of his gallery. Larger and more diverse works are on display at Holch’s larger gallery at his 5 Pine St. home, a stone’s throw from the top of Main Street.

“It works great because it’s only a five-minute walk (from Old South Wharf to Pine Street), so they can come from there if they need a full line,” Holch said of anyone who wants to explore more of his work.

But it was important for Holch to remain on the wharf, where his presence has been a part of the scenic row of shops since 1978.
“The wharf is great. With all the hubbub in town you get to the wharf and everyone is more relaxed. It’s just a very pleasant shopping experience,” he said. “There’s men’s stores, women’s stores and now an ice cream store. The fact that it’s changing allthe time should get people to come back every year and see what’s new.”

In addition to the limitededition silkscreen prints, Holch also sells less expensive posters. Each poster he still creates by hand, using the same process and materials as the limited-edition prints, the difference being that the posters are not limited because the screens are saved.

“If I have a really popular poster I can print more of them, whereas the prints are limited editions. Once they’re finished the screens are destroyed,” he said.

Holch’s work is on display during business hours at the Brown Basket Gallery at 9 Old South Wharf or by appointment as his home gallery at 5 Pine Street. www.ericholch. com

“The wharf is great. With all the hubbub in town, you get to the wharf and everyone is more relaxed. It’s just a very pleasant shopping experience.”

– Eric Holch Printmaker