Crown Point Press opened in 1962, with a mandate to "use traditional printmaking techniques for new art ideas”. Founded by printmaker Kathan Brown, it began in a storefront in Richmond California, moved to a basement in Berkeley, spent a few years in Oakland and in 1990 relocated to the building where they currently reside, at 20 Hawthorne Street in San Francisco.
Crown Point typically invites four or five artists a year to produce works in their large studio, assisted by their master printer, which are then sold in the adjacent gallery. Over a hundred international artists have participated in the program, including Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, Chuck Close, Richard Diebenkorn, Anish Kapoor, Sol Lewitt, Kiki Smith, Pat Steir, Wayne Thiebaud and Ed Ruscha (the subject of their current exhibition). John Cage, who had never worked with etching before, decided to produce prints using "earth, air, fire, and water”.
"It seems like the artists have selected us more than we selected them. I mean, it isn’t really up to us. I think that we got something going and one artist will tell another and they really appreciate what we did with somebody else and then the person says, “Oh well, I think so and so would like to come.” It’s kind of a snowball thing,” Brown told Katrina Traywick in 2011.
Valerie Wade, who showed us around, began at the press in 1988 as a sales representative. In 1993, she became Gallery Director, and in 2006 assumed her current position as director, overseeing day to day operation of the press and sharing the management of artist projects with Brown.
The store features a small selection of catalogues, artists’ books, and artists’ writings, with several titles from artist Tom Marioni, who has been married to Brown since 1983.
Marioni was the editor of the art journal Vision, which the press published in the mid-seventies. The store offers copies of the periodical, with issues two through five available. Vision #4 is a 3 LP box set record titled Word of Mouth, which features Cage, Burden, Laurie Anderson, Marina Abramovic, Brice Marden, Joan Jonas, Daniel Buren, and others. It’s available for $75 US. Vision #5, from 1982, is a boxed set of photographs Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Christo, John Cage, Joan Jonas, Sol LeWitt, Richard Tuttle, Richard Long, and Dorothea Rockburne. It is available for $50 US. Both of these prices are well below secondary market pricing.
The store also stocked issues of View: A Series of Interviews with Contemporary Artists, including John Baldessari, Iain Baxter, Terry Fox, Al Held, Judy Pfaff and several others. They were priced at $5.00 US.
For more information, or to order online, visit the Crown Point Press website, here.