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Printmaking in Frank Stella's house

Printmaking in Frank Stella's house

May 12, 2016 // by John Hutcheson

Collaborations between artists and printmakers can be so close it's almost like living together.

John Hutcheson, a master printer trained at the Tamarind Institute of Lithography and an associate professor at the University of North Florida, explains in this text he wrote and recorded about Frank Stella's Sinjerli Variations (1977) lithographs and screen prints from the collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. It's from a series of audio guides he created for works in MOCA Jacksonville's printmaking exhibitions: Time Zones,In Living Color, and the Permanent Collection.

In Living Color Frank Stella Sinjerli Variations a
Visitors view Frank Stella's Sinjerli Variations on display in the In Living Color exhibition. Image courtesy of Thomas Hager.

Petersburg Press is one of the biggest publishing workshops that sponsors artists to create large print projects.

For Sinjerli Variations, a project of six different images by Frank Stella, Petersburg installed a print shop with a large press on the ground floor of Stella's house in Greenwich Village.

Petersburg hired Bruce Porter, a Tamarind printer who had graduated a year before I did. Porter had initially worked for Ken Tyler at Gemini in Los Angeles, then again with Tyler in Bedford Village, New York.

Jim Welty, who had been one of Porter's printmaking students at the Rochester Institute of Technology, joined the team as head pressman. Later, Welty ran this whole Stella shop, assisted by Spencer Tomkins, son of the writer and art critic Calvin Tomkins.

I was hired to join them in 1978, and I had the pleasure to work in Stella's house for five years.

Everyday Stella would come downstairs to draw litho plates and mix ink colors.

We would process and proof those plates during the day so he could see the results when he returned in the evening.

These big print projects often take two years to complete and involve series of six to ten complex images that are hand-printed in editions of fifty to one hundred prints each.

Listen to the audio guide here or call 904-248-4197, then press 305.

Find all of Hutcheson's audio guides here.

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