In a constant trade-off with the biannual Denver’s Month of Photography, which falls in March during odd-numbered years, the Denver Month of Printmaking, aka Mo’Print, hits the scene in even years with a region-wide celebration of printmaking in all its diverse mediums and levels of difficulty. As with MoP, Mo’Print can be daunting, with multiple exhibit and event choices crowding the calendar, so we’ve put together a list of twelve ways to best use your time while becoming immersed in the local printmaking world. Give these a shot, then branch out if you can.
Master Printmakers and Print Educators in Colorado
McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue
Through April 8
Mo’Print’s centerpiece exhibit, Master Printmakers and Print Educators, engulfs the third floor of the McNichols Building with works from more than twenty of Colorado’s finest printmakers, many of whom double as teaching artists who help keep the craftsmanship of printmaking alive. This show opened quietly in January, jumping the gun over most Mo’Print exhibits, but if you haven’t seen it, you should: It provides a gorgeous overview of printmaking techniques and mediums before you head out to see the more specific exhibits around town.
Art Gym Denver, 1460 Leyden Street
March 1 through 17
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 1, 5 to 8 p.m.
The shared artist workspace Art Gym, home to an active printmaking studio, is showing off its attributes to interested printmakers with a trifecta of print-inspired shows, beginning with Giant Woodcuts, an exhibit showcasing print artists from the national scene and curated by Art Gym printmaking director Gregory Santos. Its focus is on big prints, many of them rendered on the ground under a steamroller; in the member gallery, (Tac)Tile presents new mixed-media works incorporating printmaking techniques by Matthew Swisher and Kelly Austin-Rollo. Art Gym wraps up Mo’Print 2018 with imPressed, a comprehensive national show that opens on Thursday, March 22.
Can’t get enough of the really big stuff? The Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design will host a live, participatory steamroller printing demo on April 21 (rain date April 28). Come back on May 5 for an opening reception and artist talk featuring steamroller prints by RMCAD students. Details at the Mo’Print website.
Pieces Together: Printed and Manipulated Surfaces and Objects
Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
March 1 through May 25
Opening Reception: Monday, March 12, 5 to 8 p.m.
The three-person exhibit Pieces Together is a bit of a well-kept secret, as it’s generally only viewable by ticketed theater-goers at the Buell (i.e., those with hard-to-get Hamilton tix). So it’s essential to hit the free March 12 opening reception if you want to have your socks knocked off by a look at new frontiers in a centuries-old medium, including Taiko Chandler’s experiments with monoprinting on Tyvek, resulting in a swirling, marbled effect on cloud-like paper shapes, and Mark Friday’s interactive assemblages incorporating printmaking elements. Rounding out the show, Chuck McCoy offers more traditional, improvisational monoprints and inkjet prints. It's that good.
Informed: Print as an Influence
Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive
March 1 through April 7
Opening Reception: March 1, 5 to 8 p.m.
Space Gallery gathers together an octet of printmakers — all of whom happen to be women — working in mixed-media constellations for Informed: Print as an Influence, an exhibit that places print work by each artist alongside their works in other mediums. If the edges between those mediums bleed together a little, don’t be surprised: Sometimes a drawing or painting is a preamble to the more work-intensive print. The artists will talk more about this in conversation at the opening reception, beginning at 5 p.m. sharp.
Hand-Pulled: Mark Lunning's Open Press
PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker
March 2 through April 30
Opening Reception: Friday, March 2, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
A show of artists who’ve been assisted in creating prints by master printer Mark Lunning is really crucial to Mo’Print: As one of the founders of the Denver Month of Printmaking and a towering figure in the local printmaking scene as the wizard who pushes all the buttons at the Open Press Ltd. studio, Lunning’s been leading artists through the arduous and detailed printmaking process for more than 25 years. The PACE Center shows how Lunning’s ethic has spread throughout the community by showcasing the past and present artists he’s mentored over the years.
Processus, 955 24th Street
March 3 through May 19
Opening Reception: Saturday March 3, 6 to 11 p.m.
Processus, another shared workspace with a printmaking studio, has assembled a small but potent group of six artists hand-pulling prints in Colorado, Oregon and Alberta, Canada, for Altered Nature, an exhibit that covers a lot of ground by mixing woodcut, linocut, silkscreen, polymer etching, mezzotint and engraving techniques. The title refers to environmental changes both man-made and natural, and how they affect and alter the direction of humankind. Celebrate Processus’s third anniversary at the opening reception.
Art Students League of Denver, 200 Grant Street
Saturday, March 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Think of the easy monotype as the gateway to printmaking, but further study indicates that it can require accumulated skills to make more sophisticated imagery using the technique. The ASLD will open up its second-floor print studio to the public for a full day of monoprint demos with Tony Ortega, Taiko Chandler, Mark Lunning, Gregory Santos, Rachel Basye, Mary Mackey, Mami Yamamoto and Joe Higgins, a handful of amazing Denver-area printmakers with mad monoprinting skills. Hint, hint: Maybe your next step should be to sign up for a class. Catch Mo’Print demos by ASLD teachers Mark Lunning, Joe Higgins and Jennifer Ghormley at Meininger Art Materials, 499 Broadway, on March 19 for a bigger nudge in that direction.
Near and Far: Contrasting Regional and National Prints from the Kirkland and Mayer Collections
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, 1201 Bannock Street
March 10 through June 17
Near and Far coincides with the Kirkland’s long-awaited grand reopening at new digs in the Golden Triangle Creative District as the first exhibit to grace the museum’s temporary gallery space, so be prepared for crowds and the total Kirkland experience as you step inside for the first time. The show is a tribute to two stellar print collections. The Kirkland’s wellspring of Colorado-centric prints will blend with the Mayer Collection’s international spread as a complement to its permanent collection of regional artwork and decorative objects. The Kirkland opens its doors on Saturday, March 10, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, March 11, from noon to 5 p.m.; Near and Far runs through June 17, if you’d like a less-crowded second look. Admission is $8 to $10 at the door (free for members).
Open Press Printmakers: A Celebration
Open Press Ltd., 40 West Bayaud Avenue
March 9 through April 7
Opening Reception: Friday, March 9, 6 to 9 p.m.
The last thing you need to know about the great printmaker Mark Lunning (see above) is also the saddest: He’s pulling up roots in Denver after the show ends in April and moving Open Press Ltd. — lock, stock and barrel — to Sterling, Colorado. Lunning calls Open Press Printmakers: A Celebration a big love letter to the dozens of artists he’s worked with over the years at Open Press, which means it’ll surely be a who’s-who situation overflowing with memorable prints — not to mention that the reception will double as a big reunion and farewell party. Get in on the last chapter of an enduring Denver institution, and wish Lunning well as he prepares to embark on the next one.
Tribute: Dale Chisman, Werner Drewes & Robert Ecker
William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street
March 9 through April 21
Opening Reception: Friday, March 9, 6 to 9 p.m.
For Mo’Print 2018, Havu Gallery pays tribute on the mezzanine to three late artists with ties to printmaking: Denver native Dale Chisman, known for his soulful, spontaneous and near-perfect abstractions; Bauhaus-trained Werner Drewes, a non-objective abstract painter whose expressionistic woodcuts sometimes stood out in contrast; and Robert Ecker, a Pennsylvanian who taught at the University of Colorado for nearly three decades, producing a comprehensive body of mezzotints in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Bonus: After you’ve looked into the magnificent past, check out works by Sushe and Tracy Felix in the main gallery.
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Alto Gallery, 4345 West 41st Avenue
March 22 through 24
Opening Reception: Friday, March 22, 6 to 10 p.m.
A simple and unapologetically inexpensive handmade medium, block printing begins with a reverse design typically carved into a block of soft linoleum, plastic, wood or rubber (or whatever appropriate surface your imagination conjures). Ink is applied with a roller, and the carved relief is pressed evenly onto a sheet of paper or other surface. When you start thinking about what happens to the block once the prints are pulled, it becomes clear what makes limited editions a big deal. Letting Go explores the cathartic process of a one-time printing in both physical and emotional terms: For the first two days of the pop-up, blocks and prints will be displayed together on the wall. On the third day, the blocks will be documented and then destroyed as the creative process goes full circle. In between, beginning at noon on Saturday, March 23, Alto hosts a printmaking meet-up where artists can carve and pull imagery, and wannabes can pick up tips of the trade.
Mo’Print 2018 Studio and Print Tour
Denver metro area and beyond
Saturday, March 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Perhaps the best way to learn about printmaking is to watch the process in person or at least chat with the artist about technique and methodology while taking in finished work in the studio. That’s why the Studio and Print Tour is such an indispensable experience. Dozens of studios and printmaking facilities, big and small, will host open houses throughout the day on March 24, all over metro Denver and as far away as Boulder, Longmont and Fort Collins. Plot your course on the Mo’Print home page with help from an interactive map and a complete listing of participating locations.
That’s a start. While this list points out Mo’Print 2018 high points, it also only scratches the surface of what’s out there to see and do in March, from exhibits and workshops to parties and demos. Make sure you don’t miss a thing by visiting Mo’Print online for more details.