Chicago: A Cross-Town Exchange – Opening Reception & Artist Talk
Throughout Chicago’s history, printmakers played an active role in the community as publishers and distributors. Local papers were printed and distributed as early as 1833. With easy access to freight lines, numerous plants, and a growing workforce, Chicago rose to become a printing giant during the late 19th Century. At a time ruled by commercial printing, many printers and publishers relocated south of the Loop into Printers Row, also known as Printing House Row, allowing them to expand into larger facilities and bringing them closer to the Dearborn Street train station. By 1960, there were 2,100 printing establishments in the city, including the world’s three largest at the time.
But as use of automation and digital technology changed the face of commercial printing, a new group of Chicago printers emerged. Independent, artist-run shops, including Landfall Press and Plucked Chicken Press opened in the 1970s. Since then, and no longer centralized in Printers Row, many print shops sprouted throughout the city and continue to engage the community through the creation of art that embraces socially engaged themes and/or by addressing a wide range of commercial needs.
Chicago: A Cross-Town Exchange is an exhibition that features a print portfolio of the same name, bringing together 26 artists/collectives from numerous print shops and studios across the city and surrounding neighborhoods. While this is a small sampling of the city’s thriving printmaking community, it is demonstrative of Chicago’s collaborative spirit and the many spaces that allow for the creation of printed work. This portfolio of prints includes multiple print processes such as screen printing, relief, intaglio, and more.