Tucked in a quiet alley in bustling San Francisco, Crown Point Press stands as one of the most prestigious print studios in the world. Founded by Kathan Brown in a Richmond, California storefront in 1962, Crown Point Press began publishing the etchings portfolios of painters Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud, both of whom are considered to be among the most influential visual artists of the last half-century. Crown Point Press’s roster of artists also includes such luminaries as Sol LeWitt, Robert Bechtle, Chuck Close, John Cage and Kiki Smith.
Crown Point Press publishes the prints of five or six artists a year who are invited to complete artistic residencies that range from two weeks to six months. For this program, Brown enjoys inviting the participation of established artists in addition to those whose specialty is outside the printing sphere, such as photographer John Chiara. Spark visits with William T. Wiley, one of the leaders of the Bay Area’s figurative movement, during his Crown Point Press residency in 2006. The Marin artist guides us through the making of a print, from idea to finished product.
There are many different techniques of printmaking including: relief (woodcut), intaglio (etching), planographic (monotype) and stencil (silkscreen). Crown Point specializes in the many different methods of etching. Brown says, “The difference between an etching and any other kind of printing is that an etching is printed from below the surface of the plate, so the paper molds down in. That makes a big difference, because it’s physically embedded. Every other printing — lithography, woodcut — prints from a surface to a surface. So it sits on top. So you have an energy that’s different.”
More about Crown Point Press:
In 1997, Crown Point Press celebrated its 35th anniversary with an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. It has a gallery that is open to the public and two large etching studios. Their summer workshops are open to all artists.