Moss Beach is a color reduction woodcut from 1981 by American printmaker Gordon Louis Mortensen (born 1938). It is pencil signed, titled, dated, and editioned ap I/IXX. It was printed by the artist in 33 colors using 19 press runs on ivory Torinoko wove paper and the image measures 8 x 10 inches.
The town of Moss Beach began as a resort destination, with its first hotel built in 1881by German immigrant Juergen Wienke. From 1907 through 1920, the Ocean Shore Railroad hugged the shoreline from San Francisco to Tunitas Glen. It brought an influx of visitors from San Francisco and resulted in the growth of the small coastal communities. Moss Beach experiences above average fog levels and has high quality air. It is noteworthy for the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and the Cypress Tunnels. The tunnels are created by overhanging cypress trees on both sides of the path which create a horseshoe-like trail of cypress overhangs. The trail leads to an outlook over the bluffs. In 1969, the Moss Beach tide pool area, now the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, was designated as a natural reserve for plants and animals adapted to live at the edge of the ocean.
Originally a portrait painter, Mortensen abandoned that media for reduction woodcutting, achieving the creative freedom he desired. He is one of a few practitioners of this method in the United States. He commented on his reduction process: "Only one woodblock is used. On it an image is drawn in India ink. Before the first color is printed, any areas that are to remain unprinted (white or the color of the paper) are cut away from the surface of the block. Then an oil base ink is used to print the first color on all of the sheets of paper that are to be used for the edition and proofs. After the first printing the block is again cut, removing any surface of the block that is to remain of the first color in the finished print. After each subsequent color is printed, the block is cut again, the process continues until the print is finished, and most of surface of the block is cut away."
Gordon Louis Mortensen was born near Arnegard, North Dakota in 1938. He received his B.F.A. with Honors in 1964 from the Minneapolis School of Art and he was enrolled in graduate studies at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul between 1969 and 1972. He is a member of the Boston Printmakers and has produced membership prints for the Albany Print Club and the Print Club of Rochester.
Gordon Mortensen holds an impressive record of solo exhibitions and has been included in numerous competitions and exhibitions. He is represented in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Monterey Museum of Art, California; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts.