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Printmaking Exhibition on Display in Cheltenham

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A piece of art on display at the "Print Explosion" exhibition.
Harri Leigh
CHELTENHAM VILLAGE, Pa. (WLVT) - In the heart of Cheltenham sits a century-old stone building, once the first public school in the township. Eighty years ago it was transformed into an art center.

Margaret Griffen, EXEC. DIR. CHELTENHAM CENTER FOR THE ARTS: “We have printing, painting, drawing, ceramic art, jewelry—mostly metal smithing, theater classes,” said Margaret Griffen, executive director at Cheltenham Center for the Arts.

This month, the Cheltenham Center for the Arts is featuring the art of printmaking with a unique exhibit that only happens every two years. The theme this year is “Print Explosion.”

“Because of the huge amount of printmaking that is going on in our community and in the city, as well as the fact that these printmakers are using a combination of interesting techniques and layering, etc. to really create almost a new sort of printmaking,” Griffen said.

The show is being put on by the Cheltenham Printmakers Guild and the American Color Print Society. Fifty-five artists have print works on display, spanning a wide range of style of technique.

“When I look at our shows that are collaborations, there are always things that I have no idea how somebody did it,” said Kathy Chapman, a printmaker whose art is featured in the show.

Chapman is a member of both organizations putting on the show. She’s been coming to the art center for more than 45 years.

“We have this amazing print studio. We have wonderful teachers here,” she said. “This art center became that little special place for me to be with people who thought like me, cared about the same things.”

Originally a painter, Chapman has moved to printmaking in recent years. Her piece of work featured in the show, Morphing Pump Jacks, is based on a recent trip she made through Texas.

“This is what we call a diptych, and it’s two different prints that I decided I wanted to display at the same time,” Chapman said. “I was looking at these things called pump jacks where oil is extracted from the earth.”

Chapman said the beauty of printmaking is its unpredictability: “When you pick up that paper it’s always a surprise. You never really know what you’re going to have happen.”

That surprise becomes even more interesting when she combines techniques. The show’s art was made using a range of print processes like etching, lithography, screen printing, photo transfers and collage.

“So there you have a perfect example of the layering,” Chapman said, pointing at layers of paper in her piece. “That’s basically an evolution of techniques I’ve known for a long time.”

The show runs through Oct. 20. You can come see the exhibition for free, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 12 to 3 p.m. The center is also hosting a “Monothon” printmaking seminar on Oct. 19.