All year long, artists at the Society of Northern Alberta Print-artists (SNAP) cut, etch, engrave and, uh…lithograph one-of-a-kind works on wood, paper, metal and stone. And once a year, the gallery puts about 100 of those works on display for a month-long show and sale, with a party thrown in for good measure.
“We have some pretty significant SNAP alumni who are professors at the U of A or other institutions. But the majority of the work is created by SNAP members using a variety of processes and aesthetics, from letterpress, to silkscreen to etching,” says Executive Director Caitlin Bodewitz. “They make beautiful Christmas gifts.”
The cool thing about SNAP — besides the fact that it’s the leading centre for printmaking in Canada, and artist-run — is that after you view works in the gallery up front, you can see the print shops where the printmaking magic happened. Sometimes, this results in people pressing their artistic luck too. “Many people become interested in printmaking once they see it all. I find that printmaking is a very accessible medium because you don’t have to pick up a pencil and be able to execute a realistic mountain range. You can play with the processes and the materials to build up really interesting imagery that is accessible for everybody.”
So you don’t need to be able to draw, but you do need patience. “I would say printmaking is both very liberating in terms of what kind of marks and imagery you can make, but it is also not very forgiving. Many printmakers are really married to this process out of pure love, because there are a lot of troubleshooting and problem-solving and just surrendering to the process of printmaking.”
The show and sale runs until just before Christmas, so you can get a last-minute gift without it looking like an obviously last-minute gift, but there’s also the Print Affair fundraiser on December 3, which will have “activities all throughout the day — you can print a letterpress Christmas card, there’s food, there’s music, there’s games, and of course there’s an exhibition.”
The prints, which are already framed and wall ready, run from $50 to $100 and are available online as well, with money going towards both the artists and SNAP. The Members Show & Sale runs until Dec 17 (Thursdays to Saturdays), and the Print Affair happens on December 3, 12-3 p.m., with the gala running that evening starting at 7 p.m.
SNAP Queen Mary Park | 10572 115 St NW, Edmonton | 780.423.1492 | snapartists.com