Sunday, May 25, 2014

California Society of Printmakers: One Hundred Years 1913-2013

California Society of Printmakers: One Hundred Years 1913-2013 is a thorough-going, beautifully illustrated centennial volume.  The California Society of Printmakers was originally founded as the California Society of Etchers in January 1913.

Headline from the San Francisco Chronicle January 19, 1913, p. 27

Robert B. Harshe, a professor at Stanford University and an assistant chief in the fine arts department  the Panama Pacific Exposition, was elected president of the new organization (see more about Harshe in "A Reader's Guide to Modern Art (1914)" from the blog). Other founding officers included prominent California artists Pedro J. Lemos, Gottardo Piazzoni and Ralph Stackpole.

At the heart of this volume is Maryly Snow's 80 page essay "Digging the Archives: The Documented History of CSP's Origins."  This chapter covers the organization's history from its origins through its 1968 merging with the Bay Printmakers Society to become the California Society of Printmakers.  Another chapter, "A Print Dealers Journey With California Prints" by Daniel Lienau provides an helpful overview of printmaking in the Bay Area, including the pre-Society days. 

The chapter "Moving Toward Multiplicity: Printmaking in Northern California--The 1940s to the Present" by Art Hazelwood discusses a wide-range of print making activities in the San Francisco Bay Area.  These include the activities of the Federal Art Project Graphic Arts Workshop that arose from the Tom Mooney Labor School.  It also notes the importance of museums like the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts (at the Legion of Honor) and Oakland Museum of Art.  He also discusses printer-publishers and community based printers.

Another sizable portion of the book is the list of "Current CSP Artist Members."  This a repetition of the format of the California Society of Printmakers 85th Anniversary volume from 1998 which was primarily a catalogue of black and white by members.  The centennial volume improves on this, featuring colors reproductions by its members' works.

Finally California Society of Printmakers: One Hundred Years 1913-2013 includes several appendices.  The first is an index of artist members through the Society's history.  There is also a listing of artist who exhibited in their annual exhibits, by decade.    There are listings of honorary members, associate and patron members.  The fifth appendix provides a chronology of the Society's exhibitions.  Another appendix gives an annual listing of prize winners.  Finally there is a chronological annual listing of the Society's officers. 

The volume also includes a glossary of printmaking terms.  Finally there is an extensive bibliography listing archives, books, journals, newspaper articles and websites.

This book is a fitting tribute to an artistic medium and its striking realization by Northern California artists over more than a century.

The Fan Tree, by Ernest Haskell - 1920 E. H. Furman Prize winner of the California Society of Etchers (source: Smithsonian American Art Museum).

California Society of Printmakers 85th Anniversary: Catalogue of Prints (California Society of Printmakers, 1998).

California Society of Printmakers: One Hundred Years 1913-2013, Maryly Snow, editor; Sylvia Solochek Walters, assistant editor (California Society of Printmakers, 2013).

"Etchers Form a State Organization: Many Local Artists Are Enrolled; Two Exhibitions a Year, With Demonstrations, Are Planned," San Francisco Chronicle (January 19, 1913): 27 (accessed from the San Francisco Chronicle Historical database (Proquest).

"A Reader's Guide to Modern Art (1914)," San Francisco Public Library Art, Music and Recreation Center blog (February 4, 2014).

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