Though it wasn't overtly popularized within the world of art until guys like Andy Warhol started dabbling regularly in the 1960s, silk screening became an easily accessible art form sometime around the 19th century, when the silk mesh used in the screens grew more affordable. Screen printing itself has been around and used by artisans for well over 1,000 years, too. But if we set aside its place in the evolution of artistry and look to its economic merits, we can also appreciate it as a sort of tactile art-world leveler—a medium that is affordably available to all and fairly uncomplicated to learn.
Santa Fe is full of examples of screen printing—just look at the Ralph T Coe Center's exhibit IMPRINT from last August or almost any local band's merch tables. While there are countless folks screening at home or in studios, for the masses, Warehouse 21 was once the go-to place for classes in silk screening taught by local experts with a passion for screening.
Fast forward to November of last year, and big changes tore through the nonprofit teen arts center. Founder and Executive Director Ana Gallegos y Reinhardt stepped down after two decades, the entire board resigned, and an ill-advised name change, since then abandoned, was implemented—all of which signaled the beginning of the end for the silkscreen program run and taught by Jason Crawford and David-Alexander Hubbard Sloan.
"They were kind of like, 'You guys need to figure out a way to make this program make money,'" Crawford tells SFR with a laugh. He's been involved with the Santa Fe silk screening world for well over 20 years. "And it was like, 'Oh, yeah—guess we should have thought of that a long time ago.'"
By the beginning of summer, Warehouse 21 would start looking for places to unload the equipment because, according to current board president Craig Anderson, the studio was simply "financially unviable."
"Honestly, it just wasn't making money," Anderson says. "We are dedicated to the mission of serving youth, but we have to be business-savvy."
The board cut the program entirely, leaving Crawford and Sloan looking for local spaces to house the equipment, materials and classes. This is when they joined forces with Axle Contemporary's Matthew Chase-Daniel, who had a vested interest in the studio's continued existence.
"We had just found that [the studio] was a wonderful resource for us as a small nonprofit," Chase-Daniel says. "It's a resource for other nonprofits—and for youths, for adults, for entrepreneurs—that doesn't exist elsewhere in the same way."
They undertook a series of online fundraisers to help buy the equipment, as well as live events in local venues such as Ghost, Phil Space and Second Street Brewery's Rufina Taproom. Crawford, Sloan and Chase-Daniel eventually teamed up with Melynn Schuyler and Youthworks for a new space adjacent to that nonprofit's Cerrillos Road headquarters. Thus, Santa Fe Community Screenprinting was born in July.
"I knew there was a group of artists who were hunting for a location, and YouthWorks is all about occupational training and industry—arts are a part of that," YouthWorks founder Schuyler says. "We had this building, and we said, let's just adopt [the program]; make it fairly open-door and put that silk screening team in charge. Let's let our young people dip in and out of there and learn from them so they can become the next generation of artists and teachers."
Schuyler, Sloan and Crawford would negotiate a deal for the purchase of the equipment, and though she didn't name the exact dollar amount, Schuyler says it was fair.
"It was just the matter of showing [Warehouse 21] that it had emotional value," she explains.
"We were glad to find this space," Sloan says, "because this is supposed to be for the community."
Ultimately, the new studio works as it always did at Warehouse 21: Classes with Sloan and Crawford are available on Wednesdays and Thursdays for $20 plus materials and setup fees (which fluctuate based on the complexity of the design). Students, who can be of any age, bring in whatever they'd like to print on, such as totes or tees, and learn the process. They'll need a transparency of whatever design they'd like to work with (transparencies can be made at any copy shop, though we recommend Copy Shack at 1583 Pacheco St.), and there are countless other details to consider, so it might be wise to pop by a class and gather all the information before you go barreling in.
"You'll see the whole process," Crawford explains. "We're not doing it for you, we're not just giving a demonstration. It's always been fun to see someone with a small project finish it that day or in two days."
The studio is even available to do print jobs just like any printing company—but this one comes with the feel-good notion that you've supported something local and nonprofit. Further, Sloan and Crawford say they're hoping to establish partnerships within the community to bolster the studio and the scene. Sloan teaches workshops at local schools and hopes field trips to the space are in the future as well; the Santa Fe Indian School is right across the street, for example.
"It's a priority," Sloan says of forging partnerships. "We're just not quite sure how to make that happen yet."
Open Community Workshops
4-7 pm Wednesdays and 5-7 pm Thursdays. $20.
1504 Cerrillos Road,