PrintHouston's Kick Off Event Rocked!

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This past Sunday kicked off Houston's unofficial "print season," with a print event that totally rocked. OK, lame joke. PrintHouston 2014 opened its city-wide summer print spectacular with Rockin' Rollin' Prints and It Came From the Bayou (Now you understand why that joke was so bad). Hosted at the Saint Arnold Brewery, the day-long event saw the brewery's beer hall stocked with printers from across the country showcasing their wares, as well as an outdoor steamrolling print experience.

The event, which was co-hosted by PrintMatters and Burning Bones Press, was the final day of a weekend-long printmaking extravaganza organized by Burning Bones. Burning Bones is a printmaking studio in town that acts as an incubator of sorts for artists to create and sell their original prints. The studio is home to some rather pricey printing equipment, which members of the collective can use to make their masterpieces. Additionally, the studio hosts classes to all those printmakers in the making.

During the now annual, It Came From the Bayou, event, Burning Bones busts out its best prints from artists who are part of the collective as well as finding printmakers far and wide.

Some of the artists showcasing their works were St. Louis' Tom Huck, New York's Cannonball Press and Dennis McNett, Mississippi's Sean Starwars, Texas' The Amazing Hancock Brothers and more.

I was struck by the work of Matt Rebohlz, who, among traditional printmaking methods, still uses the very old intaglio practice in his work. Intaglio is a process developed back in the 1400s that uses an etching needle on a copper or zinc plate. The plate is then submerged in a bath of acid for various lengths of time depending on how deep the artist wants the bite marks of the acid's etching. The result is fantastic and allows for incredibly fine markings, often lost in traditional woodcuts.

That is not to say there weren't some amazing woodcuts on hand. New York's Cannonball Press' large-scale prints hung behind their booth, demanding that you come over and give them a closer look. Their prints have something of ironic story lines behind them, with tales of love triangles and forlorn cowboys. I liked them so much, I purchased one myself. It may have helped that their calling card is an embossed plastic comb, which is awesome and handy.

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The pricing of the majority of the work was another huge draw. The more expensive prints ran about $50 or $60; yes, those were the costly ones. Whatever your price range, you could walk out with an original piece of art work and support the culture to boot.

The "rockin rollin" part of the show took place in the front lot of Saint Arnold's. A literal steam roller made its way over various oversized wood cuts creating giant prints. It took almost ten people to make the magic happen, but the result was a unique and interactive art-making process for the entire patronage.

As mentioned, the day was the official kick-off for the annual summer celebration of all things print, PrintHouston 2014. This year's print party returns with its second ever juried exhibition. Yizhak Elyashiv, faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design, will serve as this year's judge, with the exhibit of selected participants on display at the Nicole Longnecker Gallery from June 7 through July 5. The winner of this year's biennial will be awarded in a public reception on Sunday, June 8.

But there is so much more going on in the print world this season. Galleries and museums throughout the entire city and Galveston are taking part with exhibits, lectures and special events running now through August. So, if you missed this Sunday's event, you've got plenty of time to witness printmaking in all its forms - basic to intricate - the entire summer long.

For a complete calendar of events visit printmattershouston.org.

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