PrintLab expands arts access to region

Published: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 7:18 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 10:15 p.m. CDT
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(Mary Beth Nolan for Shaw Media)
Printmaker Kim Fredricks of North Aurora inks a silkscreen while demonstrating technique Saturday during a grand opening at Water Street Studios PrintLab in St. Charles.

ST. CHARLES  – Kim Fredricks squeegeed a blast of bright blue ink across a silk screen, demonstrating how to pull a print that announced – appropriately – Water Street Studios PrintLab.

For the uninitiated, it was like magic that a sweep of color on one side could produce a perfect print on the other.

Next up was St. Charles 2nd Ward Alderman Rita Payleitner, followed by Athena Hanson, also of St. Charles.

"I thought it was awesome," Payleitner said. "I was surprised by how easy it is. I'm excited about bringing arts to the city and the city to the arts. We're very excited about them being here."

An oil pastel artist herself, Hanson was thrilled at the hands-on experience available Saturday at Water Street Studios PrintLab, 117 W. Main St., St. Charles.

Though it has been open for several months, the recent addition of a sign pointing the way down the stairs to a below-level space was cause for a celebration and ribbon cutting, as about 20 people attended, mingled and got to see some print work.

"I love it," Hanson said. "It's neat. I'm definitely coming back and with my kids as well."

Director of Development Jim Kirkhoff and a founding member of Water Street Studios, said it was part of their mission to grow as an arts organization to help the region.

"What PrintLab is, is a facility for children's classes, as well as fine art printmaking," Kirkhoff said. "But another a really neat element of what it is, is a shared studio for artists who work in printing …. We're really glad to be here."

What PrintLab will provide for printmakers, Kirkhoff said, is access to expensive equipment that they can use for a monthly or annual membership fee.

Though Water Street Studios is based in Batavia, its mission is to develop the promotion of fine arts in neighboring communities, said Jill Kramer, general manager of Water Street Studios.

"The PrintLab is important because it's one of the only printmaking facilities outside of a university in the western suburbs of Chicago," Kramer said. "It's a facility that allows artists that are interested in pursuing that practice to come here and learn new techniques, continue with the techniques that they are already familiar with and are working with, without having to make a large investment in studio space [or] equipment."

Kramer said printmakers in general is a very democratic practice of art, usually done in groups so having a central location like this brings people together.

"Printmaking is a process-oriented practice," Kramer said. "Where in painting, you are putting an image on the final canvass. Printmaking is – whether it is color-separating, cutting multiple blocks, etching multiple plates – printing is multi-process. Traditionally printmaking has been used for everything from social  revolutions to rock-and-roll posters."

More information about the PrintLab is available online at www.waterstreetstudios.com.