No matter which sector of Boston’s art scene you’ve got your toes dipped in, you’re bound to hear about the financial struggles of the young artist. With gallery and theater closings, rent increases, and a dearth of affordable and convenient facilities, it’s no wonder that Facebook groups such as Getting By In Boston –“A group to discuss economic issues related to being a creator in this expensive little town” — are racking up members. And while the startup of Iron Wolf Press, a printshop located in the Piano Craft Guild whose artists are “brought together by their mutual admiration for printmaking, and a passion for creative output,” is a windfall for only a select group of artists, its existence hits as a breath of fresh air.
Earlier this year, the studio space was occupied by a longstanding print coop, but as months passed with the printing press sitting stationary more than it’s wheel was turned, the collective decided to pass the torch. The coop reached out to the city’s printmaking professors to spread the word to students that an affordable studio outfitted with acid tanks, a spray booth, drying racks, and a press would hit the market. Upon hearing the news, recent MassArt alumnus Monika Plioplyte spearheaded the effort to set up shop, shooting an email to a handful of creative friends saying simply, “We have to do this.” In one month’s time, she rallied ten fellow artists and signed a one year lease which began this past May.
While finding affordable work space in Boston proper is a victory in itself, for the fresh-out-of-college printmaker landing a space with a functional printing press is the jackpot.
Purchasing a press would be a monumental startup cost that would likely prove to be an insurmountable hurdle. Plioplyte excitedly describes the score as “a dream come true.”
“This has opened the door and the opportunity to start creating again,” she says, explaining that for printmakers, options are limited once they leave school and no longer have access to expensive equipment. The city does have a few choice studios including, Mixit Print Studio in Somerville, but members get priority for scheduling, a single 24-hour period costs $100 a day, and according to Plioplyte, there can be a wait list. “How do you create on the days your assigned? Creativity doesn’t run on a schedule,” says Plioplyte. “What if you pay the hundred bucks and aren’t inspired that day?”
Comparatively, the members of the emerging artists’ collective, who collectively represent MassArt, Arts Institute of Boston, and School of the Museum of Fine Arts, each pay $175 a month for unlimited access to the space and to semi-communal supplies. While there is a finite number of keys made available by the Guild limiting membership, Plioplyte expects membership to change hands over the coming months as people move on to new cities, new jobs, and new opportunities.
But Plioplyte isn’t looking too far into the future just yet. She’s excited about the present, and the whirlwind journey she’s been on since Iron Wolf Press’ quick and lucky inception. Now that she, along with Raleigh Strott (pictured), Ally Stack, Chelsea Teta, Krystle Brown, Kate Wildman, Gina Biondo, Donny Morin, Shannon Vanggzer, Brandon Marguet, and Allyson Hylant, have finished repainting, redecorating, and rearranging the furniture, they’re ready to show you what they’ve got hot off the press in their first pop up group exhibition: Fresh Meat.
FRESH MEAT: AN IRON WOLF PRESS FUNDRAISER. PIANO CRAFT GALLERY, 739 TREMONT ST., BOSTON. ON VIEW TUE 9.30 – 10.5. OPENING RECEPTION FRI 10.3, 12-5PM/ALL AGES/FREE. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VIEW THE FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE.