Last Friday the big turquoise double doors of Stables gallery expanded and contracted to accommodate the crowd of artists, family and friends that gathered there. Everyone had someone to talk to, everyone had something to eat. Inside, every wall of the gallery was swathed in a colorful array of prints.
It’s the 6th year of the Pressing On annual print show. Pressing On is a loose coalition of local printmakers. The group’s core membership has hovered around ten for the last six years. This year’s show boasts sixteen printmakers altogether, five of whom are new faces.
The permeable membrane of the group does not accurately suggest the large margin of experience or expertise between the members of this coalition. Dwarka Bonner—a featured artist in Pressing On, and the one manning the desk when I wondered in—told me that the printmakers in Pressing On 6 have been practicing for ten years or more. Dwarka has been making prints in Taos for upwards of 12 years.
For the most part, the Pressing On printmakers coalition formed out of the print making classes offered at UNM Taos, which is lucky enough to have a couple presses; although after living in Taos twenty-seven years himself, Dwarka says people have come together through a variety of forums. This year, like years past, the show is self funded with the help of the TCA, who leases the show and helps make it possible.
Even with the resources of the community and college, it’s not easy being a print maker in Taos. The nearest print supply store is in Albuquerque. And it’s essential that these artists have print quality paper, strong enough to withstand soaking, blotting and multiple runs through the press. The press, Dwarka pointed out, exerts so much pressure on the dampened paper that you can often see the plate mark; the indentation that defines the outer edge of the print.
Standing in Stables Gallery you can really get a sense of how broad this art form is. There are prints that look drawings, prints that look like paintings, prints make into books, collaged prints, 3D prints. Before we were through with our brief conversation Dwarka had showed nine different print techniques on the walls. Some of the prints look like ancient scrolls and some have a pop art feel that reminds you of something you might find pasted lovingly above the bed of a teenager. The wide divergence in style and technique make me ask Dwarka what the artists age range was. “Seventy to middle age,” he told me. “A lot of time goes into printmaking,” he said, “sometimes the time’s a little easier to find when you’re older.”
Hopefully young bucks as well as old guns will take the time to go into Stables and absorb the care and curiosities of Pressing on 6.
Pressing On 6 is located at Stables gallery 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte
The show is up from Sept 13-Oct 2. Open daily 11-5
Free workshop Sat 24th.