Printmaking has a rich history in the Iowa City area stemming from the renowned print department of the University of Iowa. World class prints can be seen in local museum collections and local businesses alike. With the preeminent print department in your backyard, so to speak, a contagious curiosity ensues in those interested, but not well-versed, in the subject. Pursuing an art degree may not be feasible for all of us, yet many people yearn to develop the basic skills of printmaking. However, skills are not the only prerequisite to developing a print – there is significant infrastructure needed to perform this task including engraving equipment, presses, screens, squeegees, brayers, ink, type, paper/other materials, and space. These necessities often put the pursuit of printmaking out of reach for the amateur artist or novice. However, the non-profit organization, Public Space One (PS1), has overcome that obstacle by developing the Iowa City Press Co-op (ICPC) located in the lower level of the Wesley building at 120 North Dubuque Street in Iowa City. Collectively run by its members, the ICPC offers a host of education opportunities and access to all the resources necessary for intaglio, relief, silkscreen, letterpress, and book arts. Membership to the ICPC is intentionally low cost so as to be as accessible to the community as possible. Public Space One also offers affordable studio space and even gallery space if one is so inclined.
In addition to the Press Co-op, Public Space One strives to support diversity and cultural education through The Center for Afrofuturist Studies (CAS) and their contemporary gallery space. By supporting visiting artists and artists-in-residence, the CAS generates a host of public educational opportunities, art exhibits, and performances from artists of color. The gallery hosts around 10 exhibitions per year from both local and visiting artists. The performance space is also available to the community for all manner of events including performances, readings, community meals, workshops, and just about anything else. This welcoming, inclusive attitude is central to Public Space One’s mission of “advocating for the importance of art in everyday life for everyone.”
If you’ve ever had an interest in printmaking, sign up for a class or stop by PS1 to check things out. For many of us, the roadblock to pursuing new skills is fear of failure; however, nobody rides a bike the first time. There is no better environment to learn then the Press Co-op’s small classes with people in a similar situation. If you like what you see or enjoy your class, be sure to help support this incredible community resource. If you need further motivation for supporting the arts, please read the following blogpost from the Americans for the Arts website.