Printmaking Studios in New York

My visit to New York during Print Week would not be complete without exploring the city’s printmaking studios.  On a brisk November morning, I headed to the Garment District in midtown Manhattan, where the three main printmaking studios are now located.  All the workshops featured a members’ exhibition and were open to the public.

Printmaking Studios in New York LEP2

 

Lower East Side Printshop. 

My first stop was Lower East Side Printshop.  Founded in 1968 the Printshop moved to its present location in 2005. With over 160 artists served each year, it claims to be the largest printmaking studio in the U.S.

The studio is located on the 6th floor of an industrial building facing West 37th Street.  It offers 4000 square feet of workspace. Christine Walia, programs director, gave me a tour. The shared Artists’ Studio, open 24/7, struck me as a well-organized, functional place.  It was a quiet morning, with artists’ belongings tucked neatly onto designated shelf space.  The workshop has facilities for intaglio, relief, monoprint, waterbased silkscreen techniques, photo and digital processes.

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Lower Eastside Printshop.  Gallery.

There is also a Collaborations Studio, where a couple of artists in residence were working. In another section of the studio there is a small gallery and office space.  I browsed through some portfolios and chatted with Chirstine. I left with the impression of an efficiently run studio.

 

My next stop was Manhattan Graphics Center, an artist-run printmaking studio, a few blocks away.  The workshop was bustling.  In contrast to Lower East Side Printshop,  Manhattan Graphics Center  is administered primarily by key holders.  Key holders are members who monitor the studio and do chores for four hours a week in exchange for access to the studio when it is closed and for tuition discounts.  The monitor on duty was a bubbly artist, bursting with enthusiasm as she showed me around.  There was a workshop in progress and the space was infused with a creative energy all too familiar to me.

MGC1

 

Manhattan Graphics Center 

The studio is equipped for etching, lithography and silkscreen, with a darkroom and an exposing room.  There is also a gallery and seminars area.  The workspace is compact, set up in a long area.  Judging from the artists at work, it looks functional and pleasant to work in.

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Manhattan Graphic Center 

The monitor showed me some of her monotypes and I spoke with Robin Dintiman, a collagraph artist, who also teaches at the workshop.  She had two collagraphs in the members’ show.  The one that caught my eye, was made with an impressive five plates, and still managed to convey a sense of lightness and transparency.

I left after a round of jovial goodbyes and directions to Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, again conveniently located a hop away.  Who knew Manhattan would be so easy to navigate?

 

Robert Blackburn, an African American artist, founded the studio in 1948.  At Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, I was greeted by Connie, a soft-spoken, monitor. An artist worked in the far end of the studio as Connie explained the ins and outs of daily functioning.  While the studio features all the traditional facilities, I was particularly impressed by the digital lab that boasts four of the latest iMacs, CS5 and a large format Epson inkjet printer. The studio also has a small room reserved for contract printing.

RBS1

 

Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop

The highlight of my visit was the member’s show at the gallery, a few floors up.  In the mid-sized gallery, the walls were lined with prints, reflecting a variety of styles and techniques.  There was also a table with a fun assortment of artist’s books.  I met Chris Dunnett, Workshop Manager.  A graduate of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Chris is a dynamic, articulate fellow, with a passion for printmaking.  He was giving a pep talk to a group of NSCAD students, giving advice on interning in printshops. I introduced myself and we all chatted for a while.  They had all heard of Atelier Circulaire.

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Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop.  Gallery.

I left with Chris’s complex but impeccable set of bus and subway directions to get to the Print Fair.  On my way out, I stopped by the printmaking studio and picked up some of their wild pins, for my artist friends back home.  LITHOGRAPHERS DO IT ON ROCKS was not the raunchiest one!

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Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop.  Pins.

I stepped onto 39th Street with a smile on my face and a pin on my jacket: PRINTMAKING ROCKS!

 

Talleen Hacikyan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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