Catalog Introduction

Catalog Introduction

I commissioned 30 artists from my wanderings throughout the Southwest -- Tucson, Albuquerque, and El Paso -- to give me large prints, so that we could exhibit with force, and even ruffle those beyond Austin and San Francisco. I was looking for prints that "want to get out of the studio," like the 60s psychedelic posters or Chicano serigraphs (complete abstraction was discouraged). Part of the adventure was to see what the artists would come up with, as the subject matter was open. Would any theme surface from our neglected desert cities? Or would the printmakers take off in different directions, in a region so vast that they cannot agree on what to call a dry river -- wash, arroyo, or draw? The very fact that it happened was enough of a statement, suggesting that artists might not have to live in expensive big cities to have an impact.

Once we decided to produce a print carpeta (portfolio), we followed the wake of an impressive print exhibition -- the "Estampas de la Raza: Contemporary Prints from the Romo Collection" -- and Tanya Rich and I went out to see that show in Los Angeles. Those prints were large, colorful, and definitely wanted to get out of the studio.

Unlike Ricardo and Harriett Romo however, we started from nothing. They bought their prints from established print publishers, like Self Help Graphics and Modern Multiples in Los Angeles, and the Serie Project in Austin. I only followed the traditions of Self Help Graphics and the Serie project, by soliciting prints on a full sheet of cotton paper, 22 x 30 inches, and splitting the co-edition; giving the artist 25 prints,and keeping 25 to exhibit and sell. I let the artists print mostly at a studio of their choosing, and paid for the production and paper costs. In addition, I awarded each artist an extra $500 for their effort.

I am not a printmaker, but have always been seduced by the large, colorful serigraphs, such as those I saw at the Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco in the 90s, when Rene Castro and Calixto Robles were working at Mission Grafica in the balcony, and Michael Roman was printing downstairs. . However it was not until 2012 in Tucson, when I met Martin Quintanilla and Gonzalo Espinosa at the Sculpture Resource Center, that I attempted to make my own large prints. Martin infected us with his print fever, carving into Mexican shoe rubber, with enough production to put on his own print fair. About that same time, Gonzalo brought out his old silkscreen exposure unit, and he and I started "Taller Sin Miedo" with Joshua Woodhall. However, our serigraphs trickled out too slowly to put on any exhibition.

Therefore I bought prints from other Tucson artists, to show at a pop-up gallery in El Paso in 2013, during the sixth annual Chalk the Block art festival downtown. Most of the Tucson printmakers showed in Joe Marshall's space, so we named our exhibit "YayBig Southwest" after his gallery. We even showed the prints I had bought from El Paso artists, during the previous Chalk the Block in 2012. Tanya Rich and I then showed that collection to Albuquerque and Phoenix, buying prints from artists in those cities as well (and later in Las Cruces and San Antonio), and the collection snowballed.

To keep the creative momentum going, we invited the artists we met in the Southwest to participate in the YayBig Print Exchange, and showed those small framed prints during Chalk the Block the following year, 2014, beside the Horned Toad Print Exchange. During that

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