Dissatisfied with what they perceived to be infertile grounds for the growth of the art of printmaking, local artists Connor Everts and Paul Darrow got together and decided to do something about it. Their task, they concluded, was to improve exhibition opportunities, educate the public, and popularize printmaking as an art form. Ken Ross, the Los Angeles Arts Commissioner, and Ebria Feinblatt of LACMA lent their moral support and encouragement. They were joined by Leonard Edmondson, June Wayne, Ynez Johnston, Guy MacCoy, Dick Swift and others to form the Los Angeles Printmaking Society in 1962.
A year later, Connor Everts was president, by-laws were drawn up and LAPS was incorporated as a non-profit organization. There were 30 local members. Fortune smiled on them and provided them with a patron, Esther Lewis, who generously donated studio and gallery space on the second and third floors at 818 Spring Street. This was truly a cooperative organization providing various services, gallery and studio space to its members. In addition there are Associate, Student and Patron members. Over the years, the local LAPS group has expanded and now 38 years later, LAPS is an international society of well over 400 artist/printmakers from all across the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and Egypt. New applicants have been juried in each year by distinguished jurors: artists, curators, educators and collectors.
In 1973 the "LAPS First National Print Exhibition" was held at the Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Park. It was juried by James Brown, director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. One hundred and eleven works were selected from 800 entries. The Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at UCLA hosted the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth National shows. The "LAPS Fifteenth National Print Exhibition", juried by Gordon Fuglie, which opened on January 16,1999, at the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University, has demonstrated that there is continued interest in this event. At this exhibit, 460 artists submitted 1,780 slides. Of these, 68 artists were selected, with 81 works. For the past three National Exhibits, the major presses in Los Angeles have been invited to submit recent work and LAPS artists are now able to exhibit alongside artists of international stature. Many generous vendors, corporations, organizations and private collectors have been supporters of the National Shows, donating cash awards.
This past year the jurors awarded close to $5000 in prizes. Past jurors for this event have included Ed Ruscha, Nathan Oliveira, Ynez Johnston, Laddie John Dill, Henry Hopkins, Elizabeth Smith and Bruce Davis. In 1995, LAPS began organizing a consortium of galleries in Los Angeles who would exhibit prints in conjunction with the National show, and has published posters announcing this city-wide celebration of printmaking.
Besides the National exhibitions, LAPS has a busy exhibitions schedule. Many exchange exhibitions have taken place with other printmaking societies in the USA and abroad. Works of LAPS artists have traveled to Korea, France, Great Britain, Sweden and Norway. LAPS and Burston Graphic Center of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem mounted exchange exhibitions. "Side by Side, US and Korea Prints '89" was seen in Seoul, Paris and Los Angeles. The "US/UK Print Connection" was the result of a collaboration with the California Society of Printmakers and the Printmakers Council of Great Britain. LAPS arranged to exhibit the British work in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. and the LAPS artists exhibited at the Concourse Gallery of the Barbicon Centre in London. The Exhibit then traveled for ten months to five other venues in Great Britain. "Pacific Prints", a joint exhibition of LAPS and the Honolulu Print Society was shown at the Amfac Center Gallery in Honolulu and at Orange Coast College and Harbor College in the Los Angeles area.
A symposium was held in conjunction with the exhibit at Orange Coast College. LAPS is currently exploring other foreign exchange exhibits.
On March 26,1995, LAPS became part of a four member consortium occupying space at the Lankershim Arts Center at 5108 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood 91601. With an office now and exhibition space, we have mounted numerous shows here and received many excellent reviews in the Los Angeles Times. Our presence in the city is being noticed and we have received substantial grant monies.
Since one of the main goals of LAPS is education, many programs, lectures and demonstrations have been presented in the past and are planned for the future. "Critical Perspective on Contemporary Prints", a scholarly symposium, was a collaboration between LAPS and the Grunwald Center. Other events have included lecture demonstrations on the artists' book, contemporary graphics in the Soviet Union and technology as a source of new imagery in printmaking. CalPrint '88 and CalPrint"90 were presented in collaboration with Golden West and Occidental Colleges respectively. These day-long events drew participation from a wide area.
In May of 1994, "Contemporary Issues in Education: A Printmaker's Rountable" featured a panel of distinguished educators in the LA area. Lectures and demonstrations in a broad variety of techniques and subjects have been presented by prominent scholars, artists and master printers. June Wayne has been an honoree as well as Clinton Adams and Lynton R. Kistler, whose printing of the early work of Wayne and Adams led to the founding of Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles in 1960. In May of '98, LAPS members were invited to a special tour and demonstration at Self Help Graphics in East L.A.. Previously, we were given a demonstration at Dan Freeman Editions and treated to a tour of Gemini G.E.L. Recently we have combined forces with other groups such as the "Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation" in fundraising efforts and workshops, and are continuing our educational outreach efforts with a poster identifying local presses available to artists.