The squeaking of squeegees as they ran across a fine mesh screen, over and over again, filled the air with a playful, cartoonish feeling. While the smell of ink lingered in the lower half of the gallery, residency guest artists John Hitchcock and Emily Arthur, with the help of Ryan O'Malley and Marwin Begaye were screen-printing the many images that were to be used during the Air, Land, Seed exhibition. 516 ARTS in partnership with the NPN/Visual Artists Network has started its first ever residency program, beginning with this exhibition. - Ben Tobias
The lower gallery was converted into a make-shift print studio and the public was invited into the gallery to learn about and participate in the creation of screen-printed images. The images created were then used to transform the lower gallery into a mural of paper silhouettes, paintings and screen-printed wallpaper.
As the public was invited into the gallery to join in the process of screen-printing throughout the week leading up to the opening, a special day was planned where the art and process were taken outside of the gallery. The goal was to engage, share art and create lasting impressions on the community. The Print Blitz did just that, it brought the art to the people and let them participate in and watch the process of screen-printing.
Using a mobile printing station and two other smaller stations, John, Emily, Marwin and Ryan set up an outdoor printing area nestled in Albuquerque’s Downtown Growers’ Market. The public was then invited to have their items of fabric, paper and almost anything else that would hold ink, printed on. The community was pleasantly surprised and very intrigued when they saw what was going on. Many stuck around to watch, have items printed or just talk to the artist and ask questions.
After around two hours of screen printing and friend making it was time for the Parade of Flags, which was led by the large banner from the Banner Project and included some newly printed banners by the artists as well as some coming from their Flags project at the Venice Biennale. As the group navigated its way through the Growers’ Market, screen-printed images on paper were handed out to the crowd as gifts.
The Print Blitz was a memorable experience for the artists, 516 ARTS and the community. Many community members were excited to see the process, have their item printed or just chat about what was going on. This event really brought the community into the art and allowed them to hear the squeaks of the squeegee, smell the ink on the screen and feel the anticipation of having their items printed. Many community members made it to the opening that night and were amazed again at the diversity of work and talent within the gallery.