'PRESS' Gallery to Open 'THE EXCHANGE" Exhibit


NORTH ADAMS, MA - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) announces that the "PRESS" gallery at 105 Main St. will open a new show, "The EXCHANGE," on Thursday, July 28.

Part of DownStreet Art Thursdays, the gallery's opening reception event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

"PRESS" is a public art project that invites viewers to take a look at the process of traditional letterpress printing. Its next exhibition, "The EXCHANGE," will consist of three themes explored by the students of Philadelphia's University of the Arts Book Arts and Printmaking MFA program.

The themes, "Scape 2000," "Tongue Twisters" and "Planets Exchange" include 31 prints that will be on display through the end of July and into August.

"This particular exhibition is very exciting for PRESS and especially for me as PRESS' founder and curator, mainly because I completed The University of the Arts Book Arts and Print Making MFA program," said Melanie Mowinski, assistant professor of art at MCLA. Her prints will be among those on display.

The University of the Arts in Philadelphia is home to one of only a few graduate programs in Book Arts and Printmaking. Every fall, incoming MFA candidates create a print using various letterpress techniques, making enough to exchange a copy with their fellow students. According to Mowinski, exchanges are at the heart of every printmaking program and printmaker's future. The exchange often has a particular conceptual theme as well as printing processes guidelines. This exhibit will highlight those different processes and themes.

Traditional letterpress printing involves a single sheet of paper strapped to the cylinder moving across the relief surface as it gets printed and punched. At PRESS, visitors can see how newspapers, books and pictures were created in the days when the first step in getting print into the public's hands was to use a letterpress proof press.

According to Mowinski, "PRESS" will benefit young people, who link printing to foreign-made ink jets and lasers. At the exhibit, they will learn about the roots of printing and the avenues for personal pleasure and experience that it offers. Older visitors may remember their experience of traditional print media and its processes.

Open to the public, "PRESS" is an educational and artistic resource.

As a four-month, public art project, "PRESS" depends on contributions from the public to operate. In exchange for your contribution of $100 printing enthusiasts can join a print-of-the-month or cards-of-the-month program that delivers freshly printed work to their mailbox four times during the run of the project.

For $250, visitors can become a subscriber and receive both the pring and the cards each of the four months, plus a listing in PRESS's wall of fame.

Chicago newspaperman Robert Vandercook founded Vandercook proof presses in 1909. Proof presses tested the moveable type and plates that made up the pages of the newspaper before they were made into lithographic plates that would be mass-produced. In the 1950s, fine printers began using these presses solely for limited edition printing of books and broadsides. In the 21st century, letterpress is experiencing a resurgence. Artists use letterpress machines to print not only moveable lead and wood type, but also other relief surfaces like linoleum cuts, wood cuts and polymer plates.

PRESS prints on a Vandercook Universal III (UniIII) from 1969.

The MFA Book Arts/Printmaking Program offers advanced study in studio arts, focusing on the book as a vehicle of artistic expression and printmaking in the context of the narrative. Important features of the program are its printmaking opportunities, its emphasis on investigating traditional and modern bookbinding, its encouragement of writing and the use of text, and its situation in an arts university, giving students a unique opportunity to draw on other art areas, such as photography, graphic design, multimedia, crafts and sculpture.

The prints in "The EXCHANGE" are not for sale. They are all part of a larger portfolio and are all originals with no extra editions available. The gallery does, however, have a number of prints for sale that were created in the "PRESS" studio.

PRESS invites visitors to observe, participate in workshops or realize independent explorations. The gallery is open Wednesday-Friday: 12-6 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m - 6 p.m., Sunday: 10 p.m - 2 p.m.

For more information, go to www.facebook/ or, or contact the gallery via e-mail at