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This article by Pat Summers was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

June 30, 1999.

Art, Steamrollered with Care

How better to celebrate a 25th printmaking anniversary

than to make a print? But not just any old print. This celebratory

print should be the biggest as well as the best — grand in every

way. And since it celebrates an organization that serves artists from

around the state, and one whose "Roving Press" travels the

length and breadth of the state, it should also celebrate New Jersey.

So let’s call it "Journey Through New Jersey."

So it will be a gigantic, though a very limited-edition, print —

a monotype, in fact. To make an intaglio print, involving cutting

into wood or other surfaces, would not be a good idea, given the

locale.

Even so, some sections will be collographs, and others will be

carborundum

prints, both with relief surfaces or embossed effects. And the media?

Just some blacktop, lots of ink, home construction material, plastic,

carpet. And — oh, yes — a steamroller. (Don’t try this at

home.)

With a nod to its production process, we might call the big print

a "flatotype." Or a "rollergraph." No matter what

it’s called, this print will make a big impression.

The Printmaking Council of New Jersey, based in North Branch, near

Somerville, has scheduled an array of enticing silver anniversary

events during the month of July, both inside and outside the Newark

Museum. First comes "The Big Print." On Saturday, July 3,

kicking off a fittingly festive holiday weekend, at least 25 artists

will produce a 100-foot long and 10-foot wide print in the museum

parking lot. The council hopes to convince the Guinness folks that

it is the world’s largest.

Like the Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway, "Journey Through

New Jersey" will be long and skinny. Unlikely ever to be repeated

at the Printmaking Council itself, the process for "the big

print"

will literally start at ground level, as artists sketch their designs

on the pavement or slip prepared sketches between it and the layer

of clear plastic placed on top of it. Next comes the non-toxic,

water-based

pigment needed for the artists’ designs, all related to the "New

Jersey journey" theme. With the ink applied, the third layer is

"Tyvek," a Dupont material used in home construction,

clothing,

and mailing envelopes, that the overall design will be printed on.

Then, for a lithography press effect writ very large, the

"Tyvek"

is covered with carpet pieces, so a steamroller can transfer the ink

to the material.

And there you have "Journey Through New Jersey."

The overall design only begins as an aerial view of New Jersey. In

and around the state’s outline, 12 or more "postcard" insets

will show key features, from the Jersey shore to High Point; from

the Statue of Liberty to Newark and Hoboken. The state tree, bird,

and flower will be worked in, as will horses, cows, and, unavoidably,

deer.

All this will happen between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. And,

says Stephen Fox, artist, member of the Printmaking Council’s board,

and impresario of "The Big Print," those interested are

welcome

to come and watch. His planning for the event included finding

interested

artists ("When they heard what we wanted to do, they came out

of the woodwork"), coming up with a theme and a tentative design,

and lining up the materials. The ink had to be custom made, and when

synthetic papers all proved too small for the job, he located a roll

of Tyvek without pre-printing and large enough for both trial runs

and the finished product.

After the fact, once "the Big Print" lives, there’s a little

logistical problem: If a 500-pound gorilla can sit anywhere it wants,

where does a 100-foot long print hang? Anywhere it can? (And at press

time, that remained to be seen, or found.)

"The Big Print" is the brainchild of Stephen McKenzie,

Printmaking

Council advisory board member, and proud owner of his own steamroller.

Also an artist, he says he was always interested in "doing large

works outside the studio." Aware of the effective job that

`rollers’

do on asphalt, he talked to a contractor and before long, owned his

own, with a three-foot wide roller. (Nowadays, they’re all

internal-combustion-powered,

by the way.) Around Labor Day each year, he hauls it out of the barn

where it’s berthed, and, joined by friends, does a large work outside

the studio. Stamile Trucking and Excavating, in South Bound Brook,

is both the source of McKenzie’s roller and the donor of one from

its fleet for the Newark printmaking event.

Also marking its 25-year milestone in "educating children and

adults in book arts, papermaking, photography and printmaking,"

the Printmaking Council will sponsor a symposium on printmaking’s

present and future: "Printmaking, Printmaking, Wherefore Art

Thou?"

at the Newark Museum Sunday, July 18. Miriam Beerman will moderate

a panel of five print exponents, with a reception following. Between

July 14 and September 26, an exhibition of "Silver Anniversary

Selections" from the Printmaking Council will be on view at the

museum.

But, unless it rains that day, postponing festivities for two weeks,

"The Big Print" comes before the sit-down or walk-around more

serious stuff, and it’s sure to be a `reeeely big shoe.’

— Pat Summers

Printmaking Council of New Jersey, 908-725-2110.

The Big Print, Newark Museum, 40 Washington Street,

Newark,

973-596-6550. In the parking lot; raindate is July 17. Free.

Saturday,

July 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Printmaking Symposium, Printmaking Council of New

Jersey ,

Newark Museum, 40 Washington Street, Newark, 973-596-6550. With Judith

Brodsky, Ellen Handy, David Kiehl, Maurice Sanchez, and Merle

Spandorfer.

Moderator is Miriam Beerman. Sunday, July 18, 1 p.m.


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