Taos is widely recognized for attracting creative people, many of whom work in fine arts. Artists began arriving in Taos in the 1860’s with kindred spirits following ever since. For 150 years artists have been living in the Taos Valley and working in every known medium of artistic expression, including the complex processes of printmaking. Yet, Taos is regarded more as a locale where painters have thrived – not a place where remarkable prints emerged from presses large and small, standing in studios surrounded by the majestic Taos Mountain.
Overlooking prints is not new to the art world. There have been times when collectors and critics relegated prints to the back room because they were produced in multiples and thus not considered fine art. However, when we read the history of printmaking, consider the names of artists known for their remarkable prints, and stand in front of works on paper by artists like Albrecht Durer, John James Audubon, Mary Cassatt, Andrew Dasburg, Doel Reed, or Gene Kloss, we know we are in the presence of art at its very best. Such works draw us to look closer as they reveal themselves in line, tone, and color, rendered by complex techniques on stone, copper plate, glass, solar plates, or even with inks squeezed through silk screens. The results can be breathtaking, and when we learn more about the processes for making prints, we can respond to the bravura and accomplishments of the artists working in all styles, from historic periods through the modernism of Larry Bell, Ron Davis, and Ken Price.
The act of printing has always seemed to me a miracle, just such a miracle as the growing up of a tiny seed of grain to an ear – an everyday miracle, even the greater because it happens everyday. One drawing is sown on the stone or the etching plate, and a harvest is reaped from.
–Vincent Van Gogh
Pressing Through Time – 150 Years of Printmaking in Taos will mark the first exhibition to survey the historic sweep of important prints produced in the Taos Valley from the 1880s to present time. The co-curators, David Farmer and Robert Parker, are planning a community-wide set of exhibitions, with prints to be shown in nearly all of the museums in town. The co-curators will select prints from earlier periods, while a jury of nationally recognized authorities on printmaking will choose work for the contemporary section – all to be shown in autumn, 2015.
Because the scope of this project moves beyond the capacity of any one museum in Taos, related shows will be mounted at the Millicent Rogers Museum, the Harwood Museum of Art, the TCA Encore and Stables galleries, the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, The Blumenschein Home and Museum, the Doel Reed Center for the Arts, the Couse-Sharp Historic Site and a number of Taos galleries.
The list of printmakers in the Taos Region – both historic and contemporary – exceeds 180 and will grow as it is shaped and edited. Curation by Farmer and Parker of the historical prints from museums and private collections will be a collaborative process that includes key staff at the participating venues.
The results of this extensive project will be a ‘Taos Festival of Printmakers’ with significant historic and contemporary prints on view, supplemented with lectures, videos, demonstrations, and workshops for children and adults, all around Taos in the fall of 2015.
We anticipate that UNM-Taos will offer a short printmaking workshop in its fully equipped teaching studio, while several local printmakers will host workshops and open houses. Some of these events will be scheduled in clusters so out-of-town visitors may see the exhibits and visit a studio on one day or over a weekend.
David Farmer is a retired director of rare book libraries, a teacher, curator, photographer, and an author of articles, exhibition catalogues, and biographies of writers, printmakers, and notable figures in the world of books and collecting.
Robert Parker, an architect and teacher, is also an artist who has worked in a variety of mediums from glass through painting, to printmaking. He has served on boards of arts organizations in Canada and the United States and has curated numerous exhibitions.