In writing this blog post, I hope to accomplish several things – to speak about the Print Club of Rochester, its history and purpose, to talk about our 89th Members Exhibition and 90th year and to share a little bit of my experience with the Club. I have also selected some of my favorite archive prints, which you can see throughout this post.
First, a quick history. This year we are celebrating the club’s 90th year as an organization – WOW! It was started in 1930 by 22 print lovers and at the suggestion of the Memorial Art Gallery. We have the distinction of being one of the oldest continually running Print Clubs in the country.
The club’s membership includes printmakers, collectors and print enthusiasts. It is dedicated to promoting interest, appreciation, education and production of all aspects of fine art printmaking both traditional and contemporary.
It offers studio visits, demonstrations, workshops and exhibition opportunities. One of the unique features of the club is its archive of Presentation Prints. Each year a prominent printmaker has created a limited edition of prints exclusively for the membership.
As this is our 90th year, we originally had a variety of events planned in celebration. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus, we have either postponed or cancelled these events. We are so thankful to Brad, Sarah and all the Main Street Arts staff for hosting our 89th Annual Members Exhibition and for establishing safe procedures that will allow us to exhibit and view both in person and virtually. This year we are featuring 21 of our members as well as a selection of our archive prints. The club is thrilled to be exhibiting in one of the Finger Lakes premiere galleries and we hope that this will extend our exposure even wider throughout the regional community. Please plan to take a lovely drive down to Clifton Springs (don’t forget to make you appointment online) to view the diversity and expertise of our membership.
Now onto my story – I was first introduced to the Print Club of Rochester in 2012, while taking a printmaking class from the amazing printmaker, Liz Durand at R.I.T. I must admit that I was not aware of the club at the time.
I am a San Francisco native and printmaking had been my concentration while studying at California State Long Beach. I came to Rochester and completed my MS in Art Education that led to a wonderful career as an Art teacher in this area. My career however left me with little time or energy for my own artistic endeavors. I much regret that my printmaking was put aside until I approached retirement. Liz encouraged me to join the Print Club and I am so thankful she did, as it has been a pivotal moment in my artistic career.
When I first joined, the club was offering studio visits, demonstrations and portfolio presentations. The members were welcoming and clearly loved sharing their knowledge. They were incredibly well versed in a wide variety of printmaking methods, many of which I was unfamiliar with and had never tried. The presentations were informative, educational and inspiring. I became eager to sample all these methods. It was also wonderful to be around other artists who shared the same passion for printmaking!
I had been curious about the inner workings of the club and knew at some point I would want to serve. When asked to join the Board of Director’s, I dove right in. This was a very different experience from my teaching world. There was so much to learn – the logistics of running the Members Exhibition, the Presentation Print process, the cataloging of the incredible Archive of prints and promoting the history and mission of the organization.
I was amazed by the Archive and the long list of prominent printmakers who had made these Presentation Prints. This had been done annually since 1934 and the list read like a Who’s Who of printmaking – Clare Romano, Charles Hewitt, Karen Kunc, Dan Welden, Carol Wax, and Tom Huck just to name a few. There were also local well-known printmakers like James D. Havens, Robert Marx, and Harvey Breverman. Even more amazing was the opportunity to meet several of these artists as they came to the Rochester area to exhibit and present their work.
In 2014, I stepped into the role of Membership director. I loved that it allowed me to meet and correspond with all of the members. Additionally, as part of my duties, I took on the responsibility of organizing the annual Members Exhibition.
The club has grown a great deal in the past 5 years. Adam Werth stepped into the position of President in 2015 and this began a change in the direction and emphasis of the club. Together with the board of directors, we aspired to become a prominent club in the Rochester area and to elevate the club to a national level.
To this end we hosted a series of 3 exhibitions in partnership with Rochester Contemporary Art Center. These were known as the “Under Pressure” series. Each exhibit featured 3 internationally known printmakers as well as 1 local printmaker. We featured artists such as Ellen Heck, April Vollmer, Sean Caulfield and Kathryn Polk. Several of these artists attended the Under Pressure Openings, and shared their concepts and practices with the membership and community. It was an incredible experience to meet these talented, dedicated printmakers.
Additionally, in 2016 we also began hosting International exhibitions that were presented in collaboration with R.I.T./N.T.I.D. Our jurors have included other big names in the field like Art Werger, Miranda Metcalf and Jenny Robinson.
In recent years the club has, in fact, grown to be a national club – in part because of these exhibitions but also due to the reputations of our recent Presentation Print artists like Jeffrey Dell, Kathryn Polk and Linda Whitney.
In 2019, Adam moved to California and I assumed the position of President. I feel privileged to serve the Print Club. It is an organization that I have become quite passionate about. I am eternally grateful for all that I have learned and the people I have met along the way. I feel fortunate to have had these opportunities and know that I would not have experienced them had it not been for the Print Club of Rochester.
To learn more about our club and to view the entire archive please go to our website at www.printclubofrochester.org.
Katherine Baca-Bielinis, President—Print Club of Rochester