In 1969, American printmaker Lynwood Kreneck (see work above) opened the exhibition series ColorPrint USA (CPUSA), bringing original prints to Lubbock, Texas with hopes of providing insight and inspiration to the art community and students in the newly created art department at Texas Tech University. Over the next four decades and nineteen exhibitions later, Kreneck helped create an expansive survey of American printmaking for the last half of the 20th century. More than 700 (at least 720 to be precise) artists participated in almost four decades of these print exhibitions. The imagination and spirit that drove the CPUSA shows focused on an openness to process and subject matter, organization by and for artists, and an ongoing reinvention of what printmaking and prints might be. The last CPUSA exhibition was a retrospective view organized in 2010 by Kreneck and myself at the Museum of Texas Tech University.
Kreneck’s efforts were not a solo effort. His wife, Eleanor, also an artist, contributed hard work, detailed record-keeping, and sage advice throughout the decades. Students were enlisted to help unpack and repack the art works, among other tasks. And gallery and museum directors and curators from various Lubbock art venues provided space, facilitated exhibition installation, and hosted receptions for the public. As the ColorPrint exhibitions matured, Kreneck consolidated financial support from donors who aided his efforts with generous donations and acquisitions.
As Kreneck’s experience with organizing and promoting exhibitions increased, the exhibitions quickly gained increasing attention, especially among printmakers. The first eleven CPUSA exhibitions were juried. Among the jurors were Rudy Pozzatti (1969), Robert Nelson (1971), Harold Altman (1972), Charles Morgan (1973), Gabor Peterdi (1974), Clare Romano (1975), David Driesbach (probably 1976), Warrington Colescott (probably 1978 ), Andrew Stasik (1980), Garo Antreasian and Leslie Lubbers (1983), and Cornelia McSheehy (1985-86). In 1974 Kreneck combined the jury process with more selective curatorial decisions, adding “invited artists” to the exhibitions. This evolved to the point where in 1988 Kreneck simply curated each exhibition. He exhaustively embraced his curatorial role traveling during the summers across the United States, visiting with printmakers from coast to coast, making contacts and decisions for the next ColorPrint USA exhibition.
One of the more challenging administrative feats in the history of the ColorPrint exhibitions occurred in 1998 when Kreneck curated the exhibition to include one artist from each state. In addition he coordinated an exhibition in each of the States with all of the work to open on the same day, or least the same weekend. This exhibition, Spanning the States in ’98, demanded that each artist create an edition of at least fifty to blanket the country.
Approximately half of the 700 artists who participated in any ColorPrint exhibition are represented in the Museum’s ColorPrint collection. This collection of almost 500 prints served as an impetus and catalyst for the AP/RC, providing an array of relationships in the printmaking field that were solidly developed by Kreneck’s efforts decade after decade. We continue to look, albeit with diminishing returns, for those artists who are not represented in our ColorPrint collection.
In 2010 the 40th anniversary exhibition of ColorPrint USA showcased sixty-five prints from the ColorPrint USA Collection. These will be featured on this site in the AP/RC Virtual Exhibitions section.