Des Moines Art Center Print Club Gifts: Celebrating 40 Years - 3D virtual exhibition by Des Moines Art Center

Des Moines Art Center Print Club Gifts: Celebrating 40 Years

Sun, 02/21/2021 to Mon, 02/21/2022

curated by:

40 Years of Print Club Gifts

On the occasion of Print Club’s 40th Anniversary, this virtual exhibition presents all of the 76 prints, drawings, and photographs— 49 purchased and 27 commissioned—given to the Des Moines Art Center since the Club’s founding. It also presents 22 prints that have been conserved with funds donated by the Print Club.

The 76 Gift and Commissioned Prints are displayed in chronological order of their creation. After, you will see the 22 works from the Permanent Collections that have been conserved, with Print Club’s support.

Click on the information symbol to display the extended labels.

Beginning in 1982, Print Club has made annual gifts of works of art to the Permanent Collections, ranging from early 16th-century to contemporary prints. With the director and curators, Print Club researches prints for consideration. Some years, the focus is on finding works that fill a gap in the Art Center’s holdings of a particular time period, printmaking technique, historic style, or individual artist. The Club prepares an educational presentation about the proposed prints and then at the Annual Meeting, members vote to select one or more of the prints to donate to the Art Center.

Since the tenth anniversary year, Print Club has commissioned 27 contemporary artists to create prints in editions of 50 to 60 prints. Members have priority before sales are open to the public. Proceeds from the sales support the purchase of Gift Prints, conservation of prints, print exhibitions, and related publications. Available prints can be purchased in The Shop at the Art Center.

History of the Des Moines Art Center Print Club

In the fall of 1980, several Des Moines Art Center members—collectors, art historians, printmakers, and others who wanted to know more about prints—told DMAC director Jim Demetrion of their desire to form an interest-based membership group that would support the print collection, print exhibitions, and print-related educational activities of the Art Center. In 1981, the Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Club, whose dues would support programs and an annual purchase of a print for the Permanent Collection.

The first meeting of the Print Club was held at the Art Center on March 25, 1981. From 25 charter members, it has grown to a group that at times has exceeded 200. Print Club members must have an active membership in the Art Center. Member-driven, Print Club’s working officers and committees, in collaboration with staff liaisons, keep the Club vital and focused on its mission. In contributing their ideas, creativity, and enthusiasm, as well as their resources and art, Print Club members feel a deep connection to the Art Center. In addition to the gifts made by the Club, members have personally given and bequeathed well over 1,000 prints to the museum.

Since its founding, Print Club has held well over 300 programs, with some open to the general public. These include talks by artists and art historians, gallery talks, visits to artist’s studios and private collections, hands-on printmaking, and print dealer appraisals, as well as social and culinary events. In its fortieth year, Print Club continues to adapt to the times with members gathering virtually on Zoom. 2021 marks the first online exhibition presented by Print Club.

About the Commissioned Print Program

Print Club launched the Commissioned Print program to celebrate its tenth anniversary in 1992. The objective was to help members build their collections, contribute prints to the Des Moines Art Center’s Permanent Collections, educate others about the printmaking process, and support artists. Proceeds from the sales help to fund Print Club projects such as the annual print gifts, print exhibitions, publications, and conservation of works on paper.

Print Club dedicated nearly two years to investigating the ins and outs of publishing prints for its members to add to their personal collections. Once research was complete, eight underwriting members each contributed $500 to start the program. In addition, Renato Polliero, a Venetian bookbinder, was contracted to make 50 custom-designed, handmade albums to hold the prints.

Each year, members of a committee work with the Art Center’s director and curators to select the Commissioned Print artist. In the early years of the program, Iowa-affiliated artists who pulled their own editions were invited to make the prints. Initially, the prints were to be no larger than the page size of the album. Keith Achepohl created the first Commissioned Print, a hand-colored etching titled A Place in Time. The first members in 1992 received Achelpohl’s print and an album. Over time, size restrictions were dropped, and the edition size varied between 50 to 60 prints. Nationally and internationally known artists including Glenn Brown, Cecily Brown, Enrique Chagoya, Jun Kaneko, Phyllida Barlow, Ann Hamilton, Martin Puryear, and Jaume Plensa have designed prints exclusively for Print Club. Editions have been printed in New York; Venice, Italy; London, England: and Madrid and Barcelona, Spain. To date, Print Club has commissioned 27 prints: including lithography, intaglio, relief, screen printing, and digital processes. Print Club members have priority in purchasing the prints, and all prints are available for purchase through The Shop at the Art Center.

All of the Commissioned Prints from 1992 to 2019 are on view in this exhibition.

The Stephen Exel Memorial Print Conservation Program

One of Print Club’s most distinctive activities is the annual Conservation Gift program. To date, the Club has supported the conservation and treatment of the 22 prints in this gallery.

Over the years, Print Club programs by visiting conservators and staff on the care and conservation of prints not only instructed members about works in their own collections, but motivated members to help the Art Center with conservation. In 2007, Print Club supported the conservation of Pierre Bonnard’s large lithographic poster mounted on canvas. Committee member Stephen Exel led Print Club in developing this program. In 2013, Print Club’s board approved an annual gift to support the conservation of prints in the Art Center’s Permanent Collections. Following his untimely death, Print Club named the annual Conservation Gift in his memory.

Each year, Print Club’s Conservation Gift committee consults with the Art Center’s registrar and curators to identify works in need of treatment. These are sent to paper conservators at regional conservation labs for treatment proposals. At the Annual Meeting, the committee presents an educational program about the prints and the proposed treatments. The members vote on which print treatment to support. Often, one print wins and then other members generously contribute funds to enable the treatment of all prints proposed.

The Art Center Print Club’s annual Conservation Gift program is the only one of this kind in the country.

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