221 Pine St.

_mg_2928It is a very, very small world.

My son Nikolai and I start Day Three of a photogravure workshop with Jon Goodman today. My impression to this point is that the copper plate photogravure process is simpler than I expected. It is perhaps more accurate to say that Jon Goodman’s approach to this exquisite process is simpler than I’ve been led to believe. That said, I will be etching the plate I made yesterday in a couple hours. Wish me luck!

We met Monday morning on the second floor studio of Jon Goodman at 221 Pine St. The building I found out later was built in the early 19th century. A large manufacturing plant with a smokestack converted into a Verizon cell phone tower, it houses many artists. Chatting the first morning, Jon mentioned in passing that there was a platinum printer on the third floor above him that I might want to meet name John Marcy. As soon as he mentioned this, I had this faint memory, something about three flights of steps.

Hand wiping a plateJohn Marcy is of course, on checking, the platinum printer that worked with John Zokowski to resurrect Weston Diploma paper for alternative processes. I remembered the remark by John Zokowski of trudging up three flights of stairs (there are a lot of stairwells in this building that lend themselves to trudging). I was paying half attention when I first did the posting on the paper to the work John Marcy had done. I trudged up a flight of steps yesterday to the studio directly above Jon’s workshop and knocked on the door and met John Marcy for the first time. We chatted for a few minutes as it turns out (of course) that he has done much of the platinum printing for the 21st Photography books. 21st Photography has made a business of producing limited edition small run letterpress books with fine photographic illustrations representing some of the exciting photographers of our time.

Of course the tipping point to me of contacting Jon Goodman about a workshop on photogravure was seeing his work Volume III of the journal, The Clandestine Mind. The blue inked photogravures by Jon Goodman are simply exquisite. Beth Moon and I had spent some time pouring over them one beautiful Saturday morning. And now I met John Marcy, where he mentioned that one of the most challenging and rewarding 21st Photography book he worked on was The Sonnets of Shakespeare presenting the photography of Flor Garduño. To reproduce the richness of the original prints, John resorted at times to multiple pin registered negatives and masking in the production of the prints for this edition.

Earlier in the day, a letterpress printer stopped by to say hello to Jon, and Jon mentioned we might stop by to see him. In a break after I met John Marcy, we trudged downstairs to meet Michael Russem of Kat Ran Press. Of course in that great set of convergences going on that day, Michael letterpress printed the texts for all of 21st Photography books, of which I have a few. He mentioned that The Sonnets of Shakespeare and Brigitte Carnochan‘s The Shining Path being two of the one’s he enjoyed printing the most. He was looking at me and said “You’re the first collector of 21st Photography books I’ve met.” Perhaps I should’ve dressed for the occasion? Michael demonstrated his Vandercook Universal IV in action. It was a very cool and surprisingly clean flatbed press.

I guess in one sense I started out being surprised at the congruence of all these threads of people being a few steps from one another in a single building, but perhaps it makes sense. The building houses many practicing artists, and connections happen naturally.

I sent an e-mail to John Zokowski yesterday, who of course lives locally, and we are trying to get together this weekend.

Need to shower quickly and zoom to 221 Pine St. I have a plate to etc.

One Comment

  1. Posted Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Fantastic… I am reading your posts on this journey with great interest. I would love to hear your thoughts comparing polymer photogravure with coperplate photogravue. Comparable… more beautiful… difficult to master? Easier or harder to print… Regards, Len

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