Tamarind Turns 50 – Day 7

I rolled into Albuquerque a week after I left Olympia. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a whole lot of photos while I was in town– I guess it’s a testament to how at home I felt! I stayed at friend Conor’s place for a few nights as he graciously let me crash on his living room futon while was I in the city for the Tamarind Institute Fabulous Fifty birthday bash and symposium.  The conference was a difficult one for me. Ultimately, it didn’t offer any new critical discourse to the practice of fine art lithography or collaborative printmaking and in general, the whole “symposium” felt self congratulatory… but hey, what birthday party isn’t? I left the conference feeling somewhat disappointed. I felt I was quasi-interviewing Tamarind to see if the professional printing program was something that I wanted to invest my time and very hard earned money in. Tamarind has beautiful new facilities, complete with their very own gallery as well as a recently published and much needed traditional lithography manual distributed by Abrams.

The two highlights of the festivities happened on Saturday. Unfortunately, the first morning session wasn’t well attended. This was the only moment in the symposium that felt forward thinking, discussing to some extent the future of twenty first century printmaking. The panel consisted of four speakers (only one of which was female), all fairly recent Tamarind graduates. The printers had gone on to establish their own fine art presses in Mexico, South Africa, Finland and Germany. The presses ranged in age from less than a year old to a decade and change. One of these presses (Finland) refused to use any other method of printmaking in their shop, calling themselves “litho purists,” though the rest engaged in all sorts of works-on-paper methods. The press in Mexico seemed to have the most artistic relevance compared to any of the other presses, as apparently there is an exciting printmaking renaissance underway south of the border.

June Wayne, original founder of Tamarind, is close to 93 years old and is still an articulate firecracker. Her off the cuff speech was incredibly inspiring, far seeing, and, though she spoke at length about the historical founding of Tamarind and the grants given through the Ford Foundation to set up shop in LA during 1960, her talk was decidedly not focused on lithography or printmaking. Her critique was a cultural one, a list of Things For Artists To Do in order to collectively begin bargaining for their future, together. She spoke of a paradigm shift in global consciousness and how, as artists, we are supposed to lead the way for the people, becoming visual beacons of hope and humanity.  I hope a transcript of her talk is released at some point; I know I wasn’t the only one in the audience with tears in my eyes at the end of it.

Ed Ruscha was interviewed by Dave Hickey and Jim Dine talked process with Ruth Fine. I can’t remember anything of importance from either of their conversations. Why are old white male artists so incredibly boring and full of themselves? I found myself incredibly annoyed at both inarticulate Ruscha and slobbering Hickey who wouldn’t shut up long enough for Ruscha to speak anyway. Hickey’s analogies made no sense to me whatsoever, once likening Ruscha to a beagle. Ruth Fine at least interviewed Jim Dine, asking relevant questions and tried to tie in his history of lithographic work at Tamarind. Perhaps if I cared more about Jim Dine’s work I would have been more interested.

Basically the conference felt like a pat on the back to Tamarind’s donors over the years, which is okay. It’s just not something I needed to be there for.

Here are a couple less harsh reviews: Adobe Airstream and UNM online.

Pictures: June, Jim and Ruth, Dave and Ed.

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