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Arts & Culture

Community Printmaking Comes to Downtown-Chinatown

Detail of a monoprint by Ileana Lee in the Honolulu Printmakers Annual Exhibition
Noe Tanigawa
/
HPR
Detail of a monoprint by Ileana Lee in the Honolulu Printmakers Annual Exhibition.

When Honolulu Printmakers lost their longtime residence at the Honolulu Museum, they had a lot of heavy equipment that needed a home. They've finally found one, at 1142 Bethel, just mauka of Hawaiʻi Theatre.

"This has been a real process. This took about year to make happen. We looked at a lot of spaces."

That's Duncan Dempster, Executive Director of Honolulu Printmakers. Tons of metal, the presses are invaluable equipment, now safely housed in the 1,500-square-foot former Louis Pohl Gallery space.

"We had to kind of take a leap of faith and just know the community would support this and use it once when we're open finally. We're almost open. It's taken a while."

Duncan Dempster, Executive Director, Honolulu Printmakers in their new digs at 1142 Bethel St.
Noe Tanigawa
Duncan Dempster, Executive Director, Honolulu Printmakers in their new digs at 1142 Bethel St.

Flat file cabinets, tools, work areas, all this means the Printmakers need an income stream.

Like other businesses, this nonprofit-turned-business has a business plan, but they're caught in COVID economics.

"We're not going to be able to get it up to sustainable levels until people get vaccinated and people can start doing the things we use to love to do again. For the time being, we're operating at a loss," Dempster said.

"We're relying on donations and grants with a little revenue from sales of prints. Like in our upcoming exhibition."

The Honolulu Printmakers Annual Juried Exhibition opens Friday. Curator/Art Consultant Allison Wong juried the show. There were 140 entries from across the state.

Risography is a mechanized color printing process that produces unique colors and a vivid quality, almost like screen printing. Sometimes, for a quarter of the price and effort. The Printmakers have two Risograph machines available for use, and look forward to providing more capabilities as funding and printing options expand.

Dempster says 3-D printing, and other rapid prototyping techniques like laser cutting and CNC routing (computer-controlled cutting), even water jet cutting are very much in the spirit of printmaking, and possible directions for the future.

Honolulu Printmakers add energy and desirable products and classes to the downtown mix. The Hawaiʻi Handweavers Hui is doing the same thing, with their move into the Downtown Art Center, two blocks away.

Streetlife could pick up with artists using studios, students taking classes, and shoppers looking for fine crafts in the downtown/Chinatown area. The Printmakers are offering open studio sign-ups, and classes will start as soon as practical.

The new Printmakers shop will carry essential printmaking supplies along with items seen at their Print and Book Fair. These could include art prints, chapbooks, zines, t-shirts, caps, manga, canvas totes, and other printed items.

Novice collectors often cut their teeth at the Printmakers' Annual Exhibition. Works will be on display at the new Printmakers Studio on Bethel, and at Art and Letters Nu'uanu from Sept. 17 to Oct. 17, 2021.

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