The Random Print of the Week by Stanley Rosenthal is from the Museum’s ColorPrint USA collection. Characters at either side hang by wire harnesses and tethered monkeys similarly dangle in tandem. A dark blue seascape meets the crisp edge of a wood plank floor and a partly cloudy sky. A figure with insect wings sits on a lifeguard tower facing an elevated train; a frieze of dreamy or fantastic passengers stand stoically in train cars, each labeled with a different railroad company’s name; a moon or planet eclipses the sun. The scene feels theatrical, an imagined landscape of facades and choreographed movements.
The elusive meaning of this imagery resides in its autobiographical subject, a situation that the artist recently clarified. The title alludes to the first letters of the train’s imagined stops: Cleveland, Chicago, Louisville, and Kiev, all stops Rosenthal’s family made on their emigration from Ukraine. Rosenthal’s great-grandparents in the train cars on the left and right hold portraits of themselves dressed as Russian nobility; the nude figure in the middle car may be a self-portrait. The figures swinging in from either side dressed garishly in striped knee socks, helmets, and life vests, are fictional superheroes from Rosenthal’s imagination. And the artist sits in the life guard chair observing his real and imagined history. We leave the meaning of the monkeys, the lunar eclipse, the expanse of ocean, the railroad and more for you to dream upon.
Stanley Rosenthal is a Professor of Printmaking at Wayne State University in Michigan, where he says he recently returned to the imaginary world he started creating 40 years ago.