Pressing Through Time covers a lot of time — over 150 years of printmaking in Taos Valley — and within this sweep of artistic activity it is exciting to see what is emerging from the presses of printmakers living here today. The opportunity to view this vibrant, contemporary work is coming our way in a two-part exhibition. The Encore Gallery at the Taos Center for The Arts opens the first half of a major exhibition featuring thirty-seven prints on Thursday, 1 October with a reception from 4-6 pm. Forty more prints open an exhibit in the Fechin Studio at the Taos Art Museum on Friday, 9 October from 4-6 pm. This two-part show, juried by three nationally acclaimed printmakers and teachers, Helen Frederick, Bill Lagattuta, and Dan Weldon, comes to fruition after 1 1/2 years of planning.
The synergy of contemporary printmaking around Taos began to grow when Gary Cook moved here in 1986, set up his press above Brodsky’s Bookstore on Paseo del Pueblo Norte, and established Paperworks Artist Press (1987 to 1992). At Paperworks Cook taught printmaking workshops and classes to beginning, emerging, and prominent northern New Mexico artists, bringing with him the earlier experience as a tenured faculty member in the art department at Wake Forest University. In 1998 he joined the UNM-Taos faculty where he has taught printmaking for seventeen years.
In 1998, master printer Jennifer Lynch taught the first woodblock class at UNM-Taos where she introduced non-toxic printing techniques. The following year Lynch offered a monoprint class in a non-toxic studio, thereby underscoring the need for chemical-free environments for printmakers in Taos. This non-toxic approach to printmaking is now widely followed in Taos studios and elsewhere. Lynch has continued to teach printmaking frequently at UNM-Taos, and numerous artists recently juried into the PTT shows studied with her.
Sally Tobin Schrup was an early proponent of printmaking at UNM-Taos when she served as Academic Head of the Fine Arts Department. Tobin Schrup had taught printmaking in Dallas after completing her study of painting and graphic arts at the University of Dallas with Steve Wilder, and she brought this strong background to Taos when she moved here in 1992.
Steve Wilder also taught art on SMU’s main campus in Dallas and in Taos at Fort Burgwin where in 1990 he converted an unoccupied building into the Art Barn (east of the reconstructed fort on Highway 518). Classes in printmaking began in 1991, facilitated by the gift of a Takach press from Theresa M. Beck. Now for twenty-four years printmaking has been part of SMU’s summer curriculum at Fort Burgwin.
The continuity of printmaking instruction in Taos reaches back to the 1930s when Joseph Imhof moved the first lithography press to town (see blog, LITHOGRAPHY COMES TO TAOS), when the UNM Field School in Art began at the Harwood Foundation, and when the Taos School of Art was founded by Emil Bisttram.
The fruits of this artistic teaching and labor come together in the shows of contemporary prints now opening in Taos.