Christian Ward (left), Alex Fridrich (center) and Alexis Anderson (right) of the Long Beach Printmaking Collective. Photo courtesy of the LBPC.
Print is dead, many pundits claim—and while they may be right on a mass consumption, media-driven level, the Long Beach Printmaking Collective (LBPC) wants to show off the beauty of intaglio-inspired printmaking, the art of silkscreening, the mechanics of a proofing press, and the overall glory of tangible prints.
Led by Christian Ward, Alex Fridrich and Alexis Anderson, the LBPC has it all: various printmaking techniques that incorporate the use of copper, wood, Plexiglass, fabric, paper, water-and oil-based inks, non-toxic solvents and cleaners that will be attached to copper etching, relief, letterpress, monotype and screenprinting. To harbor their collective, the group will be using a studio space at the ArtExchange (ArtX) in the hopes that a localized community of those that appreciate and create prints will bring out the best in Long Beach.
As Ward notes, this is not the first time he’s tackled operating his own printshop; of course, what’s different this time is ArtX’s commitment to a mixture of practice, business and education.
“The collective was created for the space at ArtX,” Ward said. “Alex and I co-teach and manage the printmaking shop at Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro, where we hold community classes and do artist collaborations. So this won’t be our first time operating a project like this. The collective coming together at ArtX will be a little different in that it will also function as personal studio space where we can focus on our own work too.”
Ward’s passion for the art of print extends back to his childhood, when his older brother—a printmaker and sculptor himself—would often send the young Ward prints, mostly etchings or the occasional woodblock print.
“I was fascinated by the character and quality of these works on paper,” Ward said. The mark making, the paper, how the ink was impressed into the cotton rag was not like any imagery I was used to seeing in my everyday life. I could see that printmaking offered a special voice to one’s creative ideas and since printmaking allows for multiples the artist could share and spread his or her creations.”
It was then that Ward pursued learning printmaking in Eugene, Oregon at Lane Community College. His first teacher, Susan Lowdermilk, became one of his largest inspirations—as well as the woman who showed him the vast community the printmaking sector grasps. After being introduced to a “whole community of artists that live to participate in this network of sharing printmaking tools and techniques,” Ward scored his MFA at the Cal State Long Beach as well as a prestigious fellowship at Salem Art Works in Upstate New York.
Fridrich and Anderson are no spring chicks either in the world of print. Fridrich recently printed a big edition of large woodcuts for the Japanese American Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Alexis was just in a show at Mesa Contemporary Arts in Arizona as well as being featured in LA Salvage, a show held at various sites throughout Southern California.
All three artists do this for a living—which is precisely why they created the LBPC. Their belief is that offering classes and creating spaces for artists to work, the voices of artists can be heard on a larger, more refined scale. From inviting outside artists to creating “conductive workspaces,” Ward and crew want the LBPC to be the printing hub of Long Beach.
Come February of next year, you’ll get to experience first hand what the LBPC is all about when it formally opens its doors.
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