Kate McGloughlin working with artists in the WSA printmaking studio
Photos by Dion Ogust
Incorporated in 1981, the Woodstock School of Art (WSA) is marking its 35th anniversary, and it has a lot to celebrate. Located in a group of handsome bluestone buildings constructed in 1939 under the New Deal as a school for arts and crafts – the WSA, which was founded in 1968, moved into the buildings in 1981 and purchased them in 1993 – its reputation as a place where top artists teach, collaborate and mentor emerging talent is as vital as ever. Many of the students are accomplished artists themselves, and the spirit of collaboration infuses the school.
A particular distinction is the printmaking studio. It goes back to the very beginning and was launched by school founder Robert Angeloch, whose extraordinary etchings, lithographs and woodblocks, some of which still grace the walls of the studio, set a high standard right from the beginning. His prodigy, Kate McGloughlin, who took her first class with Angeloch in 1991 and famously never left, has been running and teaching at the studio since Angeloch, who died in 2011, retired many years ago. Under her tenure, the graphics shop has become an extraordinarily productive center of printmaking.
On Friday and Saturday mornings, McGloughlin is in the studio teaching a workshop in etching, woodblock and linocutting, engraving or some newer technique, such as silk aquatint, solar plate etching and monotype, and overseeing a group of regulars, some of whom rely on Kate’s expertise as they seek to perfect a technique that they learned in one of the workshops. McGloughlin is a master multitasker, reminding some neophyte of the next step in the printing of his or her monotype and weighing in on another participant’s sketch for an etching while meanwhile mixing up a batch of ink and admiring someone’s particularly successful print right off the press.
Because it is prohibitively expensive to maintain your own printmaking operation, many of the regulars are mature artists themselves who use the WSA’s facility to create their own etchings, woodcuts, lithographs and other types of prints. As was the case in Angeloch’s day, the effort is collaborative, with the artists getting both technical support and feedback from each other. The Friday-morning group is currently engaged in a class, ending May 30, of recycling its members’ prints into collages: a project that clearly speaks to their experience in the medium. Artists can also rent the studio at a rate of $30 for three hours to use the presses.
Several of these have a distinguished pedigree in the history of art. For example, the Fuchs and Lang press, formerly the property of the Woodstock Artists Association, has been serving Woodstock artists since the 1930s, including Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Clarence Bolton; more recently, editions of lithographs by Milton Glaser, Richard Segalman, Zhang Hong Nian, Eva van Rijn and Leslie Bender have come off that press. “Our print shop is unique,” said McGloughlin. “It’s phenomenal to have it.”
Some printing methods go in and out of style. One that has had a resurgence of interest at the school is lithography, which is taught by Ron Netsky. “I’ve got ten artists interested in doing this 200-year-old technique,” said McGloughlin, noting that several are college students. “I have such a love for this process. Drawing on a stone is very physical and meditative. There’s a little resist, when you push the crayon around, which is the elemental part. It feels very basic. While a lot of mediums, such as etching and woodblock printing, are about stylizing the forms, in lithography you can make rich tonal areas and grays that shimmer.”
Lithography was once popular with artists as a way to make art that they could sell inexpensively, prior to the advent of high-quality commercial prints. Lithographs made in the 1920s by many of the Woodstock artists are legendary for their tonal beauty, and it’s a tradition that McGloughlin is eager to pass on to the next generation. “Bob [Angeloch] was a huge link from the golden era to contemporary times, and I want to keep passing it on to guys in the 21st century. I’ve introduced them to the work of Bolton Brown, who was the grandfather of American lithography.” The Woodstock artist traveled to England to learn the technique, and he “ground the stones and made crayons specific to his drawing. If he wanted a shimmering effect, he’d add more fat to the crayon, for a rich black” – a method of working that made an artform out of the craft.
Making lithographs at the school, however, takes a lot of muscle. One of the challenges is that it has been “a mostly fair-weather sport,” in which the stones are ground outside and then have to be carried back into the studio. But that’s about to change, with a major upgrade of the studio enabling students to grind their stones closer to the building and transport them in carts to an open-air shed.
While small renovations have been made to the studio over the years, this will be a major upgrade that will greatly expand the space. Working with historic preservation architect Marilyn Kaplan, the school will be removing a wall separating the printmaking studio from the adjoining sculpture studio. The construction will begin in September, with the new, expanded studio available in early spring of 2016. Two of the presses will be moved into another studio so that printmaking can be continued, although no workshops will be offered until the spring. At that point, McGloughin’s workshops, which often sell out, will be able to accommodate more students.
She’ll also continue to expand the program by bringing in other printmakers (so far, she has brought in three artists besides herself to teach printmaking workshops). Her ultimate goal? “I want to get the shop in the best possible condition so that it can run itself…right now there are peculiarities, but [after the renovation] it’ll be at a professional grade, so that any other printmaker can come in and find his or her way around.”
To help raise money for the upgrade, the WSA is partnering with the Ashokan Center on May 16 for an evening of dinner and swing dancing. There’ll be locally sourced foods, native “moonshine” and music by Swingology, led by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason. Guest artists include Cindy Cashdollar, Kate Pierson, Simi Stone and Ruth Ungar. Tickets cost $125, and each ticketholder will be entered into the Collector’s Choice raffle, with a chance to win a piece of artwork donated by WSA-affiliated artists Donald Elder, K. L. McKenna, Reginald Wilson and Robert Angeloch. Call (845) 679-2388 for tickets and information. To make a donation to the WSA Building Fund Campaign, send tax-deductible donations to Woodstock School of Art, PO Box 338, Woodstock NY 12498.
Swing & Shine dinner/dance to benefit WSA Building Fund Campaign/Ashokan Center’s Scholarship Fund for Local Schools, Saturday, May 16, 6 p.m., $125, Ashokan Center, 477 Beaverkill Road, Olivebridge; (845) 679-2388, https://www.woodstockschoolofart.org.