Right Place, Right Time: The Rest is History Becoming a Master Printer and Collector with Bob Blackburn
Right Place, Right Time: The Rest is History Becoming a Master Printer and Collector with Bob Blackburn
Prints from the K.Caraccio Collection Blackburn 20|20 August 11 - September 12, 2021
Between 1972 and 1976, Kathy Caraccio –a New Yorker born and raised in the Bronx, fresh out of art school– joined the newly incorporated Printmaking Workshop as an assistant and aspiring master printer. In what she describes as her “graduate school”, Kathy recounts her years at the PMW Inc. and her collaboration with Bob Blackburn as a defining moment in her career. Not only did she become a master printer with the abundant collaborative opportunities in the studio and the cultural and artistic exchanges between artists, but the witnessing of Bob as a collector led Kathy to begin an archive of printer’s proofs and trades. Kathy and Bob remained friends until the end of his life. Today, Kathy’s collection surpasses five thousand pieces and includes 90 works collected during the four years she worked with Blackburn at the PMW Inc. The show sheds a light on the incredibly diverse and international community and its richly varied graphic output, which the PMW Inc. is known for, and also highlights how stories, motives, and techniques travel when artists share a space.
Marianna Olinger and Morghan Williams New York, August 2021
Becoming a master printer and collector with Bob Blackburn Interview with Kathy Caraccio, by Morghan Williams
Morghan Williams: When did your journey with art begin? Kathy Caraccio: I was a child artist from kindergarten. My mother showed me how to use my hands and she would say “give Kathy some crayons and let her go”. I was out of trouble doing my crayons and everyone encouraged me. Everybody bought me art supplies and that was motivating. My mother taught me sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery and all of the dexterity handicrafts. I had dolls that I made clothes for and I made my own clothes through high school. I had a continuous focus on detailed activity and always knew I’d be an artist. I was given an opportunity at my all girls high school to work privately with Sister Emily Thomasina. She took me under her wing and gave me lessons and supplies because the school didn’t offer real art classes. She agreed to offer me a place in the back of her classroom where she was teaching French. I started at Bronx Community College taking 59 credits to earn an Associate’s degree while I was living at home. There was an art history class taught by a man who showed pictures of him and his family on vacation in Italy - there was very little real learning. I applied to Hunter in the Bronx for my BFA. The CUNY system was in transition and created a new Bronx campus from Hunter College named Herbert H. Lehman College. Professors from Hunter were given the option to go to 68th Street and 90% chose to go to Manhattan. All of my professors at Lehman were new vibrant hires. I applied for a BFA which extended my education by one more year and I graduated in 1971. MW: And how did you end up at the PMW Inc. after college? KC: Richard Ziemann was my first printmaking teacher and he did exquisite, detailed images of landscapes. He drew every leaf on every tree with an
engraving tool. His class was wonderful - and then he went on sabbatical and Arun Bose took his place, arriving directly from Paris, where he studied at Atelier 17, Stanley William Hayter’s studio. He came with a newly acquired printing technique called color viscosity. Arun also worked as a master printer at the PMW when he came from Paris. Arun’s first class was a viscosity printing lesson which utilized color inks, rollers and oil. I realized right then that I could draw, paint and print all in one class. He loved teaching his students, playing with color, and inventing new unconventional printing approaches. Arun was a father figure, a mentor, and someone who set the example of practicing art making enthusiastically. Most of all he treated me like an artist not a student. In 1971, I wanted to use the presses as an alumni and the art office said I could use the room if my teacher gave me permission. So I went to Arun and he said “no, you don’t want to do that, you want to go to Blackburns”.
Arun Bose, No Title, 1972. Intaglio with viscosity, 22” x 30”. In the K.Caraccio collection.
MW: Can you talk a little bit about Bob and describe what it was like to work at the PMW Inc? KC: Bob had an open door, shirt off his back policy. He really invited everybody in. If you couldn’t pay, you didn’t have to. He would just say “get to work”. Being in Manhattan, he attracted many international students and artists who fell in love with the potential of printmaking. The PMW facility was within walking distance from suppliers of tools, paper, chemicals, ink, and blankets. The work that goes into making a plate and a print starts with finding materials, making the image, using the acid, proofing the plate, selecting the ink, and using the presses - this all happens within a shared community. That’s not something you have at home. When I went in, I snooped around and watched what everyone was doing - I learned by watching. I began to realize I could problem solve and work out if something needed more pressure, better paper, or a different approach. There was an exodus to the elevator one day and I asked where they were going. The group told me they were taking their prints to the Brooklyn Museum. It turned out to be the last day that artwork was being reviewed for a show that happened every two years curated by Una E. Johnson. I decided to take my 60 plate quilt print Dutch Rose off the press, stick it in a portfolio, and deliver it wet. I was selected for the show and got a full page of coverage in the catalog. That opportunity was directly related to the sharing environment that Bob established. MW: What was it like to work with artists from different backgrounds? KC: It was a profound opportunity to think about where they were located geographically and listen to artists share their culture and learn about their printmaking techniques. It was always interesting to talk to international artists because many other cultures have a much longer tradition of printmaking. For instance: Monique Binswanger, a Swiss artist, learned etching in Europe.
While she was at Blackburns, she created an index card file. She went to New York galleries that showed prints, drawings, or works on paper and would take notes on details like the name of the director, if they were friendly to her or not, and if they had a good display area. When Monique left to go to India with her family for three years, she gave me her card box. I got a starter kit of how to look at the galleries. I made use of that card box and visited the galleries, asked questions, and saw the lay of the land.
Kathy Caraccio, Widow’s Cross, Etching Collage, 1975. In the RBPMW Collection,
Widow’s Cross in the background of a critique at PMW Inc., 1976.
MW: You worked for and collaborated with so many artists during your time at the PMW - can you share a story about a job that you took on? KC: In 1974 Bob brought me a large etched copper plate and proposed that I put some color on it. I asked who was it for, he said it didn’t matter that he would pay me for three days to proof with the viscosity set up I had. Bingo! That project ended up being for Romare Bearden’s images, The Train and The Family. During the proofing stage I realized I could ink individual sections as well as roll the surface with viscosity rollers. I was free to explore – I had nobody telling me what they wanted. Bob was very smart to trust me to proceed with whatever instincts I had. He was a genius at implementing a printing project and taping the resources of his membership. After a dozen proofs went to Romare and he added watercolor, Alex Rosenberg selected one to publish in his upcoming Bicentennial Portfolio. One came back to me to be editioned. I needed to add a watercolor plate, adjust some parts of the image and cut out many smaller sections for separate inking. The studio hired assistance to help with the viscosity and the à la poupée color application.
Romare Bearden, The Train, 1975. Unsigned proof, in the K.Caraccio Collection.
MW: Can you talk about your pathway to becoming a master printer and collector? KC: Learning about master printing through being at Bob’s involved a lot of brain picking and lateral learning. The environment of the studio and its activities, the getting materials together, the signing, the collecting - the whole package of the love affair with art - was Bob’s intention in the non-for-profit space. Arun Bose taught me to work from the seat of my pants, to move forward, fall in love, to figure it out and make a test plate. Because I’m an optimist, things weren’t problems but problems to be solved. I was in a great community of supportive people who were very willing to share techniques and ideas. Bob brought artists through that network and was always making connections. He wanted it all to be barter and to this day I still have a Blackburnian vision of that exchange of energy as opposed to an exchange of money. I would work for the opportunity to collaborate, collect printer’s proofs, and to expand my technical skills. The foundation of Bob’s PMW and what it offered was a communal sharing that equalized everybody.
PMW Inc. exhibition at the opening of the Jamaica Arts Center, New York, 1972. (Bob Blackburn in the center background; Kathy Caraccio on the right).
The memories of the conversations I had with artists are brought back when I look at the prints in the show. I love that each print has a story as well as a technical virtuosity. I still talk to many of the artists that are in my collection. I keep in touch and watch their careers. I am grateful to say the sense of the PMW community and family is still alive today.
Prints by: Emma Amos Romare Bearden Camille Billops Robert Blackburn Monique Binswanger Betty Blayton-Taylor Kathy Caraccio Bill Caldwell Saint Clair Cemin Bernard Childs Hilde Virgina Jaramillo Cherie Moses Otto Neals Gladys Pancoe R.H. Park Mavis Pusey Mary Anne Rose Gary Shaffer Doris Seidler Sharon Howell Sutton Mary Ann Unger Ben L. Wigfall Ellen Zeifer
Kathy Caraccio (USA) Seed 1975 Etching with Viscosity Image size: 5.75” x 9.75” Paper size: 19” x 26.75” Printer: Kathy Caraccio
Robert Blackburn (USA) Organic Things 2002-3 Etching with Viscosity Image size: 13.75” x 14” Paper size: 22.25” x 23” Printer: Kathy Caraccio
Ellen Zeifer (USA) “Cloudburst” 1974 Etching with Viscosity Image size: 17.75” x 23.75” Paper size: 21.25” x 28.5” Printer: Ellen Zeifer
Bernard Childs (USA) Little Moon 1971 Engraving with Relief Rainbow Image size: 8” x 6” Paper size: 20” x 14” Printer: Kathy Caraccio
Doris Seidler (USA) No Title 1977 Viscosity Linoleum Image size: 12” x 12” Paper size: Bleed Printer: Kathy Caraccio
Bill Caldwell (USA) No Title 1975 Etching with Viscosity Image size: 9” x 13” Paper size: 15.75” x 20.75” Printer: Kathy Caraccio
Mary Anne Rose (USA) No Title 1985 Etching Image size: 10” x 14” Paper size: 15” x 20” Printer: Kathy Caraccio
Otto Neals (USA) Emergence 2003 Etching with Viscosity Image size: 12.5” x 18” Paper size: 18” x 24” Printer: Kathy Caraccio
R.H. Park (Korea) Dawn 1971 Etching with Viscosity Image size: 17.75” x 14.75” Paper size: 24.75” x 19.5” Printer: Rae-Hyun Park
Monique Binswanger (Switzerland) No Title 1976 Multicut Plate with Intaglio and Relief Image size: 11.5” x 15 Paper size: 19.5” x 14” Printer: Monique Biwnswanger
Gary Shaffer (USA) Hang Down House 1993 Aquatint Image size: 4” x 5.25” Paper size: 7” x 9.25” Printer: Gary Schfer
Betty Blayton Taylor (USA) Inner Symbol II 1974 Aquatint and Relief Image size: 23.75” x 17.75” Paper size: 29.25” x 21.75” Printer: Kathy Caraccio
Ben Wigfall (USA) No Title 1975 Woodblock Border with Aquatint Image size: 30” x 22.25” Paper size: Bleed Printer: Kathy Caraccio
Gladys Pancoe (USA) Winners and Losers 1971 Etching with Monoprint Image size: 9.75” x 15.5” Paper size: 16” x 22” Printer: Gladys Pancoe
Mavis Pusey (USA) No Title 1976 Lithograph with Embossing Image size: 5.5” x 11” Paper size: 8” x 13” Printer: Unknown
Camille Billops (USA) “Had I Know” 1973 Aquatint Image size: 8.25” x 11.5” Paper size: 14.75” x 17.5” Printer: Kathy Caraccio
Hilde (Norway) Mona’s Bar 1991 Etching and Aquatint Image size: 8” x 18.34” Paper size: 15” x 22.25” Printer: Hilde
Workshop 1991 Etching and Aquatint Image size: 17” x 11” Paper size: 27.75” x 21” Printer: Hilde
St. Clair Cemin (Brazil) No Title (Teacher II on verso) 1981 Aquatint Image size: 11.5” x 8.75” Paper size: 18.25” x 14.75” Printer: Saint Clair Cemin
Romare Bearden (USA) The Family (Unsigned proof ) 1975 Etching Image size: 19.75” x 26.25” Paper size: Bleed Printer: Kathy Caraccio, Linda Cunningham and Emily Trevor
Mary Ann Unger (USA) Rising State VII 1981 Etching and Aquatint Image size: 15.5” x 15.5” Paper size: 22.5” x 22” Printer: Mary Ann Unger
Cherie Moses (USA/Canada) No Title 1976 Monotype and Relief Print Image size: 11.5” x 11.5” Paper size: Bleed Printer: Cherie Moses
Virginia Jaramillo (Mexico/USA) “Stratum” 1973 Aquatint and Relief Image size: 12” x 10” Paper size: 20.75” x 17.75” Printer: Virginia Jaramillo
Sharon Howell Sutton (USA) “THIRTHY-TWO” 1974 Etching and Relief Image size: 21.25” x 21.5” Paper size: 28.5” x 28.5” Printer: Sharon Howell Sutton and Kathy Caraccio
Emma Amos (USA) Dream Girl 1975 Aquatint with Relief Image size: 15” x 17.5” Paper size: 23” x 25” Printer: Anthony Kirk
This catalog is published by the K.Caraccio Studio and Collection in connection to “Right Place, Right Time: The Rest is History – Becoming a Master Printer and Collector With Bob Blackburn”, an exibition of prints from the K.Caraccio collection at the EFA - RBPMW 20|20 Gallery. K.Caraccio Studio and Collection 315 West 39th Street, New York, NY 10018 www.kcaracciocollection.com
New York, 2021 © K.Caraccio Collection We would like to thank the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop for providing us with the opportunity to curate and exhibit works from the K. Caraccio Collection in the 20|20 Gallery. We would like to extend a special thank you to Program and Exhibitions Manager Essye Klempner, Workshop Coordinator Jazmine Catasus, and intern Alexa Gross for installing the exhibition and granting us access to the PMW photography archive. We would like to acknowledge all who have made this catalog and show possible including the curator of the RBPMW Collection Deborah Cullen-Morales and, of course, the artists themselves.
Exhibition Curated by Marianna Olinger and Morghan Williams Catalog Edited by: Marianna Olinger, Morghan Williams and Kathy Caraccio Graphic design: Marianna Olinger Front and back cover images: Archive of the EFA-RBPMW Images of the artworks: K.Caraccio Collection, Malkah Manouel, Marianna Olinger and Cherie Moses. The artworks’ COPYRIGHT belong to artists and/or artist’s estates.