Reynold Weidenaar at the Mackinac Art Museum

“Bridge Builders, Mackinac Straits”

Reynold Weidenaar (1915-1985) was an internationally acclaimed artist known for his use of Intaglio-style etching. This complicated process involves etching or engraving a solid piece of copper, placing ink upon the etched copper, and running it through a rotary press with a piece of paper over it to which the ink is then transferred. This creates a print of the etching previously done on the copper. This meticulous process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days to complete. Within the Intaglio process there are many different methods. Two of these can be seen in the prints above. The Bridge and the Storm, Mackinac Straits and Bridge Builders, Mackinac Straits are done in Mezzotint, which involves a rod called a “rocker” used to make the etching. The other, Building the Bridge, Mackinac Straits, is aquatint which utilizes resin for the same etching purpose.

“The Bridge and the Storm, Mackinac Straits”

“Building the Bridge, Mackinac Straits”

As you can see, the prints depict various scenes of the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. The tedious nature of Intaglio etching and the number of different prints Weidenaar created could seem to imply a certain awe or reverence concerning its construction. This is especially evident when paired with the knowledge that Weidenaar was known for including satire and his own personal worldview into his work, but these pieces appear to be free from parody. Even so, the fact that Weidenaar chose to use Mezzotint, which adds a dark, velvety appearance and the crowded, looming quality of the prints could also have been intended to evoke a foreboding feeling concerning the construction of this steel monolith. Nevertheless, the prints remain captivating renderings of the bridge’s construction. They and other compositions regarding Mackinac can be viewed at The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum on Mackinac Island.


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