More Miracles of St. Patrick in Scranton, PA!

St. Patrick Converts the 50 Foot Woman. © Kevin McCloskey, 2015
St. Patrick Converts the 50 Foot Woman. © Kevin McCloskey, 2015

My grandpa Patrick McCloskey immigrated from Donegal, Ireland. I got the grand idea to have some fun with St. Patrick, the most sacred hero of the Island of Saints. Fortunately for me, the Irish, even religious fundamentalists, tend to have a sense of humor.  St Patrick: The Lesser-Known Miracles will be exhibited at the AFA Gallery, Scranton, March 5-28. The prints will be up for St. Patrick’s Day.

Patrick & Celia McCloskey with baby Patrick, Mary, James (center front my dad)  and John
Patrick & Celia McCloskey with baby Patrick, Front: Mary, James ( my Dad) and John.

These are relief prints, carved from wood or linoleum. It is a down-and-dirty way of printing. In my case, a bit the prints are rough-hewn, but they tell a story. I learned this process from masters like Tom Huck and Endi Poskovic and from my printmaking friends in Oaxaca.

St. Patrick Arm-Wrestling a Pagan. © Kevin McCloskey 2015.
St. Patrick Arm-Wrestling a Pagan. © Kevin McCloskey 2015.

One of the new miracle prints is a linoleum cut of St. Patrick arm wrestling a Pagan. Kutztown printmaking student Victoria Beck asked if the pagan was Tom Huck. Good eye, there is a resemblance. I made my first St. Patrick print at Huck’s studio, Evil Prints in St. Louis. So this image is a shout-out to Huck. On another level, the legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland may be rooted in his driving the tattooed druids out of power.

The Irish discovery of Pi.
The Irish discovery of Pi.

I’ve read Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Saved Civilization and Seamus MacManus’s The Story of the Irish Race. Both interesting books celebrate Irish exceptionalism. I am proud of my Irish ancestry, but I toy with this sort of myth-making in my prints. Every nationality tends to inflate their ancestor’s contributions, I suppose.

St. Patrick Driving the Elephants from Ireland
St. Patrick Driving the Elephants from Ireland © KMc 2012

Reading Eagle reporter Lisa Scheid wrote about this project here. “We see a lot of pictures of a saintly St. Patrick, but Kutztown University professor Kevin McCloskey wants people to see something more. McCloskey, a printmaker and an Irish-American who has participated in his share of St. Patrick’s Day parades, has a series of prints about St. Patrick. The series, “The Lesser Known Miracles of St. Patrick,” doesn’t depict any aspect of the saint or legend but is a celebration of its spirit. Patrick came to Ireland as a kidnapped slave; he escaped and then, surprisingly, returned. “It’s kind of a subversive idea to go back and want to change a country,” McCloskey said. “With a religion from the Middle East, he returned to this cold, tough place to spread love.”

Original woodblock, St. Patrick's Headstand, 12 by 16 in, used as illustration for Reading Eagle 3/17/14.
Original woodblock, St. Patrick’s Headstand, used as illustration for Reading Eagle 3/17/14.

St Patrick: The Lesser-known Miracles can be seen at AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave, Scranton from March 5-28. Opening: Friday March 6, First Friday 6-9pm. I will be there and look forward to meeting my fellow exhibitors, Veronica Lawlor and Chris Spollen. Gallery info here.  A few more St. Patrick prints can be seen here.  If I don’t see you before March 17, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

AFA Gallery announcement, Opening March 6, Scranton, PA.
AFA Gallery announcement, Opening March 6, Scranton, PA.

Many thanks to my friend Scranton-based illustrator Ted Michalowski for introducing me to the AFA Gallery. Thanks, too, to Dean Bill Mowder of Kutztown University for a grant to support this project.

Printmaking at Taller La Chicharra, Oaxaca, 2015

Edith Chavez, center front, and Alan Altamarino, center back with KU students at Taller Chicharra.
Edith Chavez, center front, Alan Altamarino, at back & KU students at Taller Chicharra.

While ice storms hit the U.S. a group of Kutztown students spent 17 days of winter break in sunny Oaxaca, Mexico. We worked with a group of talented young printmakers in Taller La Chicharra (translates as the Cicada Studio).

Alan Altamarino  on press pulling a large scale print with Kevin McCloskey
Alan Altamarino on press pulling a large scale print with Kevin McCloskey.

Alan Altamarino, who also goes by MK Kabrito, runs the studio. He is a recent graduate of the School of Fine Arts at UABJO, Oaxaca. He specializes in large format relief prints. In the image above he carved MDF, multi-density fiberboard, to print a mega-print for his upcoming exhibition in Guadalajara.

Nueva Vida, 2-color woodblock print by KU student Elaine Knox.

Printmaking studio classes were scheduled from 11-4, but at times the KU crew was still working happily as late as 10pm. Of course, they took a long dinner break around 3pm. Some brave souls sampled fried grasshoppers, a typical Oaxacan snack.

Pajaro Rojo, print, by KU Prof. Miles DeCoster
Pajaro Rojo, print, by KU Prof. Miles DeCoster

Each student created an edition of 15 black and white prints for a portfolio to exchange with their classmates. They also created a limited edition with a second color printed from a block of carved plywood.

Figura Prehispanica, detail, by Ashley Ridgway.
Figura Prehispanica, detail, by Ashley Ridgway.

We came as a group with a reservation, but Taller La Chicharra offers short classes for visitors throughout the year. Besides woodblock, they offer classes in serigraphy and engraving metal via electrolysis. Typically, courses are for half-days and last a week. The cost ranges from 500-1000 Mexican pesos, $40 to $80 U.S.

KU student Blake Myers sketching in the mountains of Mexico.
KU student Blake Myers sketching in the mountains of Mexico.

“Impressions From Oaxaca” prints from the KU workshop will be on exhibit at the Student Gallery, Sharadin Building, Feb 10-15.

KU students carving blocks at Chicharra.
KU students carving blocks at Chicharra. Photo: Miles DeCoster

We had time for trips to the Prehispanic ruins at Monte Alban and Mitla. A highlight was a journey to the petrified waterfall known as Heirve el Aqua.

Wolfgang and Brigid inking plates. Photo M.DeCoster
Wolfgang and Brigid inking plates. Photo: M.DeCoster

Muchas Gracias to Alan Altamarino, Edith Chavez, Marcus Lucero, Mariana Rivera, and all the wonderful Oaxacan artists who made our time in Mexico so memorable! Nos Vemos! See you again!

OAXACA KU Study Abroad Winter 2015

Update: Kutztown U’s Oaxaca Course will be offered again. Tentative dates: Dec.27, 2015 to Jan.10 2016. Details in August. For a new non-credit 6-day (Jan 10-15, 2016) Oaxaca printmaking workshop see offering here via Oaxaca Cultural Navigator.


Kutztown University is offering an affordable opportunity to study  in Oaxaca, Mexico with Prof. Kevin McCloskey. Oaxaca may the best place for a visitor to experience art in all Mexico. This beautiful colonial city is famed for its markets, street art, and printmaking studios.

Oaxaca Street scene, art by Arte Jaguar. photo ©K.McCloskey
Oaxaca scene, street art by Arte Jaguar. photo ©K.McCloskey

Students will experience many things they can’t do in Kutztown. For example: We’ll climb and sketch ancient pyramids. Visit a papermill that makes fine art paper from indigenous plants. Work with local artists. Drink spiced hot chocolate in the lobby of the chocolate hotel.

Corey Reifinger sketching a pyramid in Queretaro,  Mexico
Corey Reifinger sketching a pyramid in Queretaro, Mexico, 2008.

Located high in the mountains of Southern Mexico, January weather in Oaxaca is typically sunny with highs around 80°F

CDE 375: Drawing on Location in Oaxaca is a 3-credit Communication Design Elective. A hand’s-on course, students will complete a sketchbook documenting their personal response to the travel experience. Includes a 3-day relief printmaking workshop in a fully-equipped artist’s studio. Field trips to museums, markets and historical sites will provide immersion in the unique cultural traditions of Oaxaca.

Oaxaca Street art by Swoon. photo © K.McCloskey 2012
Oaxaca Street art by Swoon. photo © K.McCloskey 2012

The cost?  For in-state (PA) undergrad tuition, airfare, shared accommodations, printmaking workshop, museum entries, and daily breakfasts should total approximately $2,400. Out-of-state students’ will be need to pay more. (Fees must be approved by KU council of Trustees.)

Young girl in one of Oaxaca's many parades. photo ©K.McCloskey 2012
Young girl in one of Oaxaca’s many parades. photo ©K.McCloskey 2012

Prof. Kevin McCloskey has been visiting Oaxaca for over 30 years. In 2007 he was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to study the visual arts of Oaxaca. He received a second NEH fellowship in 2011 to explore the visual culture of the Maya regions of the Yucatan and Belize.

Kevin McCloskey with one of his woodblock prints at Espacio Zapata, Oaxaca.
Kevin McCloskey with one of his woodblock prints at Espacio Zapata, Oaxaca.

He has written extensively about Mexican political prints. He has curated eight exhibitions of Mexican prints across the U.S, notably at the Fowler Museum, UCLA. In 2012, he was invited to Princeton University to lecture on Mexican prints at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Studies. Here are two of his recent  articles on the Oaxaca art scene, one at Project Bly, one at Printeresting.

Interested students can email for more info:

BIG SNOW in Kutztown, PA -Dec.6

All art in the post © Jonathan Bean
All art in the post © Jonathan Bean

Jonathan Bean now lives in Harrisburg, PA, but he grew up in Fleetwood and so, of course, he has often been in Kutztown. The gifted illustrator and author is returning Kutztown to share his new picture book Big Snow at Firefly Bookstore, Friday, Dec 6th from 6-8pm.

Big Snow has wonderful reviews. Publisher’s Weekly writes “another terrific offering from Bean   -his subtly rhythmic prose and elegant, astute watercolors hit just the right notes of comedy, suspense, and fantasy.”

“This delightful picture book… begs to be read aloud.” – School Library Journal

The town pictured in Big Snow looks a lot like Kutztown. We see lovely watercolor images of familiar-looking row houses, several Lutheran church steeples, the smokestacks from the old foundry. Matthew Williams of Firefly Books pointed out the most conclusive evidence, “Look at the water tower,” he said, “and you will see the letters ‘K U T Z’!


Jonathan Bean’s prints can be seen in Harrisburg at Robinson’s Rare Books and Prints. He also sells prints at his online Etsy store. One of his charming works is the limited edition linoleum print of the Big Snow boy.

Firefly Bookstore, 230 W. Main, Kutztown is a wonderful place, a true independent bookstore, supportive of local authors and illustrators. I love the place. Meet Jonathan Bean there 6 – 8 pm on Friday, December 6th. There will be children’s activities and cookies.

Note: Lisa Scheid of The Reading Eagle wrote an interesting story about Jonathan. It is worth reading and can be found here.

Irving Herrera, the Artist and his Models

Irving Herrera creates wonderful images of beautiful woman. What is so remarkable about his artwork is that he appreciates the beauty of the indigenous and mixed-race woman of Oaxaca.

Throughout Mexico the leggy newscasters you see on T.V. and the models on billboards, calendars, and magazines often look like pure-blooded Europeans. I took a walk looking for examples and found this mind-boggling image in the lobby of a liposuction clinic.

And here is a more typical image from a dress shop window…

Such images of so-called ‘female perfection’ bombard the men and women of Oaxaca daily. Dark, broadbodied Indigenous women might play the sympathetic maids, but not the love interest in telanovelas (soap operas.) Irving was born to an indigenous Mixteco family in the high mountain village of Huajuapan de Leon in 1984. He came to Oaxaca and studied with the master printmaker Shinzaburo Takeda.

20131022-182332.jpg Today, Irving Herrera is an artist on a roll. He illustrated the current issue (Oct. 2013) of the magazine, El Jolgorio. It is a special Oaxaca Poetry issue and can be downloaded here. Irving recently had a roomful of his prints exhibited at MACO, The Museo del Arte Comtemporaneo de Oaxaca. He has twice won ‘Young Creative Artist’ grants from the State of Oaxaca to complete the series of oversized portraits he calls, ‘Senora Matanzas.’ I don’t know how to translate this, maybe,’ Killer Women?’

He told me he carves these portraits from models directly into the wood in a matter of hours. Then he crowns the portrait with the bones of a slaugthered animal, often a goat. The senoras’ seductive expressions are jarringly juxtapozed with the formal posture and dress of the Porfiato (Mexico’s version of Victorian era.) Irving says he’s mixing memories from the slaughterhouses of his boyhood town and the prints of Jose Guadalupe Posada. This past weekend Irving travelled into the mountains accompanied by his beloved teacher Maestro Takeda. The two artists were honored guests at a regional festival in Irving’s pueblo, Huajuapan de Leon, were the woman are so very beautiful.

20131022-230329.jpgIn Oaxaca, Irving Herrera and his talented companeros of Gabinete Grafico studio can be found at 307 Xincotencatl.

Medula Negra of Xalapa


Sebastian Fund is an artist on the move. He was born in Argentina, moved to Mexico as a child, and is now beginning an artist’s residency in Havana, Cuba. He collects abandoned shoes. He deconstructs them, inks them up and prints them. The remarkable results evoke the humanity of the individuals that once walked in those shoes.


Javier Arjona is the second half of the Taller (Studio) Medula Negra of Xalapa, Mexico. He does woodcuts. He likes to use a technique he calls placa perdida. A single plank is carved and printed, color after color, for as many a six colors. Because there is no turning back with this method some U.S. printmakers call it a “suicide print.”


I met these two dedicated young artists in July in Xalapa. They gave me a studio tour, and we drank a toast of mescal at their printing press.  They have invested heavily in their studio and put in long hours at the press. I wrote about Medula Negra for the online  journal, Printeresting. They lent me a batch of their small works to exhibit at Kutztown University’s Rohrbach Library.

The press at Medula Negra, Xalapa. Photo by Tirso Pérez
The press at Medula Negra, Xalapa. Photo by Tirso Pérez

They have a killer website: Their photographer friend Tirso Pérez did a photo shoot of the studio. His black and white photos are far superior to mine, so I will share a few of his fine works here. More of the photoshoot entitled “Un Dia de Trabajo” (One Day of Work) can be found here on Medula Negra’s Facebook page.

Javier checking a proof. Photo by Tirso Pérez.
Javier checking a proof. Photo by Tirso Pérez.
Sebastian preparing shoes to print. Photo by Tirso Pérez
Sebastian preparing shoes to print. Photo by Tirso Pérez

Medula Negra: Grabados Pequenos de Xalapa is on exhibit until Oct. 16 on the 2nd floor of Kutztown University’s Rorhbach Library in the Voices & Choices Gallery space.

The exhibit at KU's Rohrbach Library runs through Oct 16.
The exhibit at KU’s Rohrbach Library runs through Oct 16.



Linsay Derecola
Lindsay Derecola

The Legendary Drive By Press,  touring woodcut printmakers, will print in Kutztown, PA, next week. They will do a brief residency in the KU Printmaking Studio and present an illustrated lecture: Thursday, Sept 12 6pm @ 120 Sharadin, Free and open to the public. Here is the scoop thanks to this guest post by Lindsay Derecola, KU student and President of the Art Club:

Drive By Press is a portable print shop made up of artists and designers that believe process is just as important as the results. Quality over quantity; while we live currently in a world surrounded by the desire for instant gratification. Drive By Press believes that craft is and always will be top priority. It is about doing what you love because you love it, not to be the next superstar in the art world or to make lots of money.”

29_n copyI found out about Drive By Press through Evan Summer, Printmaking Professor at Kutztown University. He mentioned he met Greg Nanney and heard about this amazing tour he puts on with his crew. The idea of a portable print shop was intriguing, so naturally as I explored their website and social media outlets, I was becoming even more excited over their work and their mission. I persisted in making it official to have Drive By Press come to Kutztown to bestow their wisdom and creativity on the student body. Thankfully, everything worked out marvelously.


Founded in 2006 by Greg Nanney and Joseph Velasquez, the Drive By Press team finds the best designers and artists to work along side them on their mobile printing journey across the country. They have two studio locations, one in Austin, Texas, the other in New York, NY. They are currently on tour doing educational and promotional trips to “spread the ink” about their purpose and passion. They will be making their next stop at Kutztown University on Thursday, Sept.12 and Friday, Sept. 13 in the Sharadin Arts building’s Printmaking Studio, Room 12G.


During their stay they will be inhabiting the University’s Printmaking studio that Evan Summer, Professor of Printmaking at Kutztown University, has opened up for their special visit. Drive By Press will be in 12G from 12-6pm doing demonstrations on various printmaking processes, techniques, talking about history of their medium and their process of printing t-shirts. At 6pm, Thursday 9/12 in room 120 Sharadin, they will be presenting the history of their company and how they have evolved and progressed through the years. The Printmaking Studio will be open for all students Friday for additional demos, or just to say hello to the Drive By Press crew. Please stop by to welcome Greg Nanney and crew Thurs Sept. 12 and Friday Sept. 13.


T-shirts and prints for sale for $20. Bring your own t-shirt and have it printed for $10! Don’t forget to spread the ink!