Terry Winters / Mark Melnicove: Sometimes times

The unconscious, the unknown, the unsaid: mirror images of these “uns” are the things themselves—the conscious, the known, the spoken. In between non-existence and existence are the sparks of art. The artist approaches the unknown by venturing into a darkness, to see if it will speak. Then to listen, draw and scrape, mirrors, impressions, evocations. Isn’t that the process of art?

Science—the most “known” of human endeavors—constantly reaches into the void with antennae ready for new sensations, data, experiences, inventing symbols and mathematics, floating theories and their disappointments, inventing universes, dreams of infinite interpenetrating membranes, confusions, irrationalities, paradoxes, contradictions. Science registers these, accepting nothing as the whole truth, always open to doubt, revisions, variations, ladders to nowhere. So art and science are not so far apart at the edges of the known, and each provides a language into the unknown.

Sometimes times is a book of such mixed language, though it is poetic and metaphoric rather than specifically mathematical.

The authors—distinguished New York-based painter, draftsman, printmaker Terry Winters and Maine-based poet, educator, book publisher, Mark Melnicove—met in 2013 at Colby College’s Miller Library Special Collections & Archives around serendipitous connections each had with the late Belfast polymath Bern Porter (1911–2004), scientist, artist, book publisher, first Belfast Maine Poet Laureate, and a 1932 Colby graduate. A long-time friend and collaborator with Porter, Melnicove is the literary executor of the late artist’s estate.

In 2015, Colby College Museum of Art curator Beth Finch mounted Winters (Printed Matters) and Porter (Listen to this page) exhibitions in adjacent galleries, based partially on Winters’s choice of many color “Founds” from Porter’s Colby archive. In events surrounding these exhibits, Melnicove and Winters did not discuss working on another project. But, in 2017, Finch brought them together to create Sometimes times. Their collaboration began with twenty drawings by Winters to which Melnicove richly responded with poems.

Melnicove often would wake in the middle of the night, emerging from unconsciousness or dreams in a lucid state of mind where, he says, “a window or door would be open” to the layers of Winters’s imagery. The poems and images evolved, going back and forth between Winters and Melnicove, illuminated and revised by both artists until the collaboration was complete—twenty color silk screens facing twenty ekphrastic poems, on 16 x 24 in. sheets—and ready for their 2017 exhibit at Portland’s Able Baker Contemporary Gallery where they were displayed in large glass-front cases.

Winters’s art has investigated systems of mark-making and color that hover in the eye between two and three dimensions, between the organic and biological, suggesting mathematical, organic, and microbiological structures, space-time symbology, tracks of elementary particles, information systems, and their metaphoric potential. Often in unpredictable grids and networks, they are graphically intense and visually exciting. They seem to connect viscerally with the body and hold the attention as if one were floating in an experiential dialog with the root forms of life and the universe.

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Terry Winters (print), Mark Melnicove (poem), “You cannot capture waves,” Sometimes times, #02, digital printing of silkscreen print, 5 3/4″ x 8 3/4″, 2023.

In You cannot capture waves,” deep black lines like rhythmic oscillating topographies ride within planes whose textures and acid colors resemble the child-like scrubbing of wax crayons. The handmade sophistication of one expression contrasts at high vibration with the more elementary sensations of the other. Melnicove steps through his midnight window to add a voice to the image, “I embody disguised shapes and disfigured measurements; I break the hopeless compass over my knee/in the name of art.” How can a work of art be measured? Surely not by a compass. Perhaps only by being precariously balanced by another work of art.

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Terry Winters (print), Mark Melnicove (poem), ”I hear more than the ocean in a seashell,” Sometimes times, #12, digital printing of silkscreen print, 5 3/4″ x 8 3/4″, 2023.

In “I hear more than the ocean in a seashell,” on a brightly scrubbed magenta, lemon yellow, and lime green ground, a graduated field of around 1000 touches of Winters’s brush initially feel random but gradually the eye recognizes the subtle energies of very carefully placed and interwoven repetitive arcs or waves. On this visually active ground floats a contrasting obloid form, with contour lines suggesting a found seashell and also a human ear. “Listening to the page,” as Bern Porter did, Melnicove steps through that dark window again, mixing visual with verbal, taking the reader along, “I hear the grit on the windows grinding in farther. . . . I hear regimented genes spit seeds at sunshine. . . . I hear feverish rosebuds break out on children’s cheeks. . . . I hear ants wobble and fall on their way home, carousing.” The words unleash one’s own imagination to float in that same darkness where the sparks fly. “I hear a bell,” Melnicove concludes, “I shall answer it.”

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Terry Winters (print), Mark Melnicove (poem), “Sometimes everything joins together,” Sometimes times, #11, digital printing of silkscreen print, 5 3/4″ x 8 3/4″, 2023.

In “Sometimes everything joins together,” upon a ground of deep blue and green, Winters draws a web, or a net, or the closely packed geometry of the heart of a sunflower. Gradations of that blue, then brighter magenta and even brighter yellow radiate around it like broken sunshine. Melnicove writes, “Sometimes everything joins together, and there is nothing/to do but sit back and admire how every part/is whole . . . how lucky you are/that birds are willing to share seeds with you . . . a cloud hovers over.” Suddenly, it’s a summer’s day! And in the poet’s final lines, with a full circle, you find the book’s title,

because sometimes times are as magnetic as this.


Sometimes times was originally produced as a portfolio of twenty-two silkscreen prints, each 16 x 24 in., printed by New York’s Two Palms Press, in 2017. Now, in the Dome Editions (New York) book, Winters and designer Phil Kovacevich have produced a beautiful 5 3/4″ x 8 3/4″ paperback color edition of forty-eight pages. For more information or to order a copy, contact mmelnicove@gmail.com.


Image at top: Terry Winters, frontispiece for Sometimes times, digital printing of original silkscreen print, 5 3/4″ x 8 3/4″  © 2023 Terry Winters.