Monday, June 26, 2017

La Printeria: Transforming San Antonio's Printmaking Scene

I recently saw a post by an up and coming printmaking studio, located in San Antonio, Texas, called La Printeria. The good folks there have a terrific studio, and offer classes and press-time to printmakers of all ages and experience. The owner, Harvey Mireles, is working with the local city and arts groups to make a special thing happen...he wants to help train young persons the trade of making prints, and encourage them to become artists and express their talents through prints. Great idea. His training workshops have helped people find work, and bring focus to their lives.

This noble cause is born out of a desire to see youth succeed and not be tempted by things that could derail their lives. Mireles' own life path was a longish journey, but he decided to make a change and trained himself how to make prints, and now he wants to give back to the community to help others. I applaud his goal and mission. I hope there are more places out there like La Printeria. If there are, I say Thank you! If there are, please write to me and tell me about yourself and your own printshop.
( I will tell your story as well. Anyone who can bring the printed image to the public, is worth talking about and spreading their message. Congratulations to Harvey and all the people who work with him at La Printeria. Keep up the good fight!

You can find information about La Printeria on Facebook Their web address is and they are located at 563 SW 40th St, San Antonio, TX 78237 (210) 852-8898.
If you stop by, Flower may be hanging around, so give her some love, too!

They have a go fund me page about looking for sponsors to help teens take an 8 week printmaking workshop which starts in July.Give them some inked up love as only we printmakers can!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Glen C. Alps: Printmaking Innovator

Back in the day, when this writer was studying printmaking at university (you all knew that by now, I am certain) there was this monster of a printing press in the print room. It was orange and it had a Huge wheel on it and a lovely large steel bed with which to make large and complicated prints. It was called the Alps press and it dominated the print room at Miami University.

Our print professor, Mr. Robert Wolfe, told us it was designed by a printmaking teacher at University of Washington, Glen C. Alps. We all put that press through its paces, trying to print all manner of materials and images and sizes of images on it. It was a beast, and it helped us produce terrific prints. It took a beating and kept on printing....
As for the history lessons Mr. Wolfe gave us, he included the work and process of Mr. Alps, and his contributions to 20th century printmaking. As one can see from the images included here, the man combined shape and color and with rich textures. The work included roosters and bird, but it equally included an exploration into textures and multiple plate printings. I will venture into Alps' process for this one article because it truly defines his work and his expertise as a teacher.

Glen Earl Alps (American 1914-1996) was a printmaker and educator who was born near Loveland, Colorado. He attended Colorado State College of Education (today the University of Northern Colorado) in Greeley, Colorado, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1940. After graduation he worked as an art instructor in the Greeley County school system until 1942, then he took a job in publishing at the Culver Aircraft Factory, in Wichita, Kansas.
In 1945, Alps attended the University of Washington in Seattle, where he was received a Master of Fine Arts in 1947. He also studied one summer with the noted printmaker Mauricio Lasansky at the University of Iowa. He began teaching in the Art Department of the University of Washington while he was still a graduate student there. In 1947 Walter F. Jacobs invited Alps to teach classes at the school. After graduation he continued to teach at the university. He received tenure in 1954 and became a full professor in 1962. He was named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement from teaching in 1984. A respected professor of art, Alps personally taught hundreds of students during his tenure at the University of Washington.

His early work was affiliated with the realism of American Regionalists Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, but by 1947 his subjects turned toward abstraction and wild color. His favorite motif was the circle in a square.
Alps is credited with having developed a collage-like technique, on which various textures are glued onto a flat surface. The plate may be inked as either an intaglio or relief, and then is printed onto paper. Collagraphic processes have been around since the 19th c., but the 20th c. development of collage as an art form led printmakers to explore the process more thoroughly. Alps began working in the technique at the University of Washington, which he shared with his students. He asserted that "...the first concern of the printmaker is the development of the plate, where the individuality of the artist has its chance to take form."
In 1960 Alps received a fellowship to the Tamarind Institute in New Mexico. In 1988 he was an artist-in-residence at Pilchuck Glass School.
Alps also designed and manufactured about thirty fine art printing presses. The Glen Alps Press was reputed to be durable, versatile and easy to operate.

An original Alps press. See, I told you it was a monster.

Public collections:
Art Institute of Chicago
Bibliothèque Nationale
Harvard University Art Museum
Library of Congress
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Loveland Museum of Art
Museum of Modern Art
Portland Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum
Yale University Art Gallery

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Printed Illuminations of Peter Baczek

Light and simple geometric shapes, flat planes of color, and clear, descriptive lines that clarify object from negative space. All of that aptly describes the work of Californian artist Peter Bacezk, but his work contains so much more than mere description.
Peter Baczek has been a fixture of the northern California art scene for many years. He has worked in Berkley, and now resides in Oakland where he operates a printshop/studio. Go find it. It will be worth your while for a visit to a contemporary master precisionist.
Baczek's subject is the urban setting, showing us the terrain of his neighborhood; where homes, small shops and factories coexist. The clear clean light of northern California is a strong speaking point of his prints. The sky is crisp with its clarity, and reminds us that pure light is transcendent, revealing as much what is before us as much as it is a spiritual component of what is mystical and unseen around us.
Baczek capably handles the description of places without human inhabitants, yet his compositions are not lonely places. There is a presence to the work that someone is around, but we have just missed them. Batheing the compositions in light gives us a warm, and cared for feeling, which is different than the descriptive, yet empty feeling of Edward Hopper's places, or the cool precision of Charles Sheeeler's nearly abstract industrial work.
Baczek is describing places that are compelling, which is a challenge for quiet and spare locations such as his. We want to walk around the buildings, knock on the door of the houses and see who's inside. There is a quiet in the air about them, too, which one often feels when visiting the American southwest. The light is so intense is can drain the energy out of you, but here the light is warm and friendly. His colors are restrained, but vibrant.
His mesmerizing subject matter of ordinary, everyday street corners and rooftops captures the viewer’s attention by the sheer simplicity of his compositions.This artist creates a spirituality through his simplicity, and a balance between the natural world and the one manmade. It is a delicate balance, but one Baczek handles with aplomb.
Baczek, b.1945-, joins the ranks of other American greats. He quiets our day with his subtly challenging compositions and brings us a sense of peace. Enjoy, my inked up friends and share his work among yourselves, and your friends.

Permanent Collections
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA
Edinboro University, Edinboro, PA
Graphic Chemical and Ink Company, Villa Park, IL
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Metropolitan Museum and Art Center, Coral Gables, FL
Oklahoma Art Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ
University of California, Davis, CA
University of North Dakota, Fargo, ND