Gary Lichtenstein: Master Screen Printer at Lift Trucks Project

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Silk Screen Prints Reopen a Heavy-Equipment Factory, By SUSAN HODARA, New York times

Visitors to the exhibition” From a Factory Floor: Screen Print Collaborations by Master Printermaker Gary Linchtenstein” the inaugural show at the new Lift  Trucks Project, might be hard-pressed to imagine the place filled with 8,000-pound forklifts. Comprising three artists’ studios and a large exhibition space, the Lift Trucks Project occupies the site of the former B. Hawley Smith Company, a forklift service and sales business.

The 5,600-square-foot factory, built in the 1920s, caught the eye of Tom Christopher, an artist who lives in South Salem. Mr. Christopher, whose paintings of New York City have been exhibited internationally, bought the property in 2008, and after a year of renovations moved his studio into the second floor.

“I found myself surrounded by all this room, and realized what a great project space it was,” Mr. Christopher said. “I thought, ‘I want to get some artists in here.’ And now we’ve launched our first show.”

From a Factory Floor” chronicles important collaborations throughout the career of Gary Lichtenstein, a silk-screen artist and the owner of Gary Lichtenstein Fine Art in Ridgefield, Conn. The exhibition presents work by 14 artists — from painters like Alex Katz, Gary Panter and Karl Benjamin to Jack Micheline, a Beat generation poet, and Michael De Feo, a contemporary street artist — all printed by Mr. Lichtenstein.

Mr. Christopher described Mr. Lichtenstein as “one of the few great printers in the world.” “He’s a master colorist who is able to bring out things in your work that you might not see yourself,” Mr. Christopher said.

Mr. Lichtenstein, 55, began his career in San Francisco as an apprentice to Robert Fried, a rock ’n’ roll poster artist whose prints from the 1960s and 1970s appear in “From a Factory Floor.” “Right away, I got hooked on silk-screen,” said Mr. Lichtenstein, who served as curator of the exhibition, which includes one of his own pieces. He is also preparing a solo show, to open at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in 2010.

Mr. Christopher’s print “Midway Float,” derived from a painting of the same name he did in 2006, is part of “From a Factory Floor.” Printing with Mr. Lichtenstein, Mr. Christopher said, goes far beyond simple reproduction.

“Decisions are made,” he said. “There is an evolution. It involves the art of discovery.”

In the show, each artist’s work is presented as a project; items that demonstrate the process of its creation are included. Multiple versions of the final image of some works are displayed, and photographs and objects like screens, squeegees and empty paint cans accompany the pieces.

“I love explaining how silk-screens are made,” Mr. Lichtenstein said. “Sometimes I used three pulls, sometimes I used 35. Some pieces took days to finish, others took months.”

Mr. Christopher plans to present up to four exhibitions a year. The next one is scheduled to open in the fall. Tentatively titled “Draw to Paint,” it will combine pop culture and outsider art, featuring works by artists including Saul Steinberg, Isadore Freleng, known as Friz, and Ed Roth, known as Big Daddy. Mr. Christopher said he was also thinking about exhibiting his private collection of tattoo art, and was considering a poet’s suggestion to hold literary readings in the space.

“Ideas spring forth from other ideas — that’s the whole point,” Mr. Christopher said, emphasizing that the space is not a traditional gallery.

“The focus of a gallery is to represent an artist’s long-term career,” he said. “We’re doing something different. We’re showing artists on a one-time basis. This is a place where they can explore different approaches to presenting their work.”

“From a Factory Floor: Screen Print Collaborations by Master Printmaker Gary Lichtenstein,” through July 12 at Lift Trucks Project, 3 East Cross Street, Croton Falls. ltproject.com.

Visitors to the exhibition :”From a Factory Floor: Screen Print Collaborations by Master

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