After Emily Jalinsky, 29, graduated from the University of Kansas with a printmaking degree, she wanted to continue her art. But suddenly unaffiliated with an academic program, she lacked access to a studio and equipment. So she tried to set up a printing station, complete with acid for etching metal plates, in her apartment.
“It was a horrible idea. It looked like ‘Dexter’ — I had plastic everywhere,” she said. “It’s hard to be creative in that environment.”
When she and her husband moved to Iowa City, she was thrilled to find art organization Public Space One and its affiliated Zenzic Press, a printmaking studio open to the public.
The studio, which started after a crowdfunding campaign raised $10,000 and brought in donated equipment in 2012, was on a short hiatus after the co-founder moved away. Jalinsky volunteered to revamp it as part of a studio residency at Public Space One. With the encouragement of partner the Paper Nest, an Iowa City art paper and letterpress company, it was renamed the Iowa City Press Co-op in late 2014.
The new name comes with a refreshed mission of building community partnerships and an expansion into book arts including letterpress, paper making and bookbinding.
Kalmia Strong, 30, has long been a Public Space One board member and was involved with Zenzic Press from the beginning. She said it represents what she likes about the community.
“It’s an inclusive art scene,” she said. “It operates in this really open way, where if you show up and want to help, you can.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Another of the organization’s leaders, Sayuri Hemann, 35, first learned about Zenzic Press in 2013 when she took an etching class.
“I thought it was the most amazing thing to have a community print shop that I didn’t have to be associated with a university to use,” she said. “I didn’t go to the University of Iowa, but I still want to make things and be in a creative community. This is a great place for that.”
The UI houses a strong printmaking program and the Center for the Book. But those program’s facilities and skill sharing are only available to current students and faculty. Graduates and other non-students like Sayuri didn’t have a way to get involved until they started the press co-op.
Anyone is welcome, and members are encouraged to teach workshops, regardless of their credentials.
“Society has an idea of what art should be, but we’re not about that. You don’t have to have an MFA in art if you enjoy it,” Sayuri said.
They are hoping to eventually find a bigger space in another building. For now, however, they’re enjoying the collaboration with the rest of Public Space One’s artistic community. The organization is working on setting up an online store to sell their work and to increase other opportunities to sell and display member’s efforts. They’re also looking for other community organizations to partner with.
Members pay anywhere from $10 to $37 a month, depending on how much work they put into keeping the co-op running, and have 24-hour access to the studio. Non-members can use the equipment during studio hours for a $20 day rate, provided they’ve taken a class on how to use the equipment.
“We want to be accessible,” Sayuri said. “It’s good community.”
What: Iowa City Press Co-op
Where: Basement of the Wesley Center, 120 N. Dubuque St., Iowa City
Contact: (319) 331-8893; icpresscoop.com