Beloved folk musician Jeanie McLerie will be immortalized in ink at this weekend’s Southwest Print Fiesta, before joining the ranks of the world’s leading women in the Herstory Printmaking Collective’s Gallery of Greats which will be on display on the Hub Plaza wall along Seventh Street.
“The Southwest Print Fiesta is thrilled to be where our guest artist, Julianna Kirwin, prints the portrait of such a prominent local woman during the Printers Market on Saturday,” said Kyle Durrie, Owner of Power and Light Press. .
Durrie hosts the party with printmaker Jamie Karolich and the support of dozens of artists and international volunteers who come together for a week of workshops, shopping and performances all about the power of the press.
This year, the party is partnering with the Herstory Printmaking Collective, an Albuquerque-based group of artists who create printed portraits of women who have influenced their lives.
Julianna Kirwin is one of the founders of the collective, along with Ilene Weiss and Michelle Korte. Since its creation, the collective has produced 24 portraits of greats such as Violeta Parra, Laura Paskus and Dolores Huerta. The portraits are displayed throughout the state, most recently on the side of Santa Fe’s Axle Contemporary mobile art bus, which has garnered considerable attention for the collective’s effort.
Along with El Paso artist Skuishi, Kirwin plans to print two new portraits for the collection and exhibit their work in downtown Silver City.
“We use recycled newsprint for the portraits and plaster them to a wall using a wheat pulp mix, which is biodegradable and easy to remove,” Kirwin said.
Look for the Collective’s Community Project Table, located near the famous Steamroller Printing Station, during the Saturday Printers’ Market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Main Street Plaza, between Seventh and Eighth Streets just outside east of Bullard Street.
At their booth, members of the public can try their hand at printing with the same materials that artists use to make portraits – using sticky foam mats found at any DIY store or of art.
“It’s a very simple printing process – it’s the printing we do with the elementary classes,” Kirwin noted of the method. “We cut shapes out of the foam, mount them on a sheet, ink it and have the kids rub the top to make an impression. It leaves a good image.
“I chose Jeanie because what she and Ken are doing with their music is pretty awesome,” she continued. “Their music is always a community event, so wonderful and uplifting.”
Kirwin will give a free public talk about the collective’s printmaking process Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Power and Light Press, Suite F at the Hub Plaza at 601 N. Bullard St.
Even if you don’t know McLerie, you’ve surely heard her somewhere in town, playing fiddle in the musical duo of Bayou Seco, which she formed with her musical and life partner, Ken Keppeler. Together they have toured the world, preserving and performing traditional folk music. The duo received the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for preserving Hispanic and cowboy folk music.
“We like to keep old traditions alive,” McLerie said.
The pair toured the state in the early 1980s with the New Mexico Arts Program, bringing music to rural students. At each stop, they met local musicians to learn about the region’s historic folk music.
“We’ve been in New Mexico for 42 years and we’re proud of the state,” McLerie said. “New Mexico music is very unique, not like Texas or Colorado.”
Incidentally, McLerie also taught six-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend James Taylor how to pick fingers as a teenager at Martha’s Vineyard.
“It was in the 1950s, before it was a celebrity hotspot, back then it was a bunch of fishing villages,” she said.
Sadly, McLerie won’t be in attendance for the portrait unveiling, as Bayou Seco performs this weekend at the Albuquerque Folk Music Festival, but she is thrilled and “honored to be included among so many distinctive women.”
Rosa Ramirez Guerrero of El Paso, founder of the International Folklorico Dance Group, will also be honored in ink. She has been dubbed the “Dance Missionary” and was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame for her contributions to dance and culture.
Printer Susan “Skuishi” Gonzalez is from the El Paso area and felt the influence of Guerrero in her life.
“She is an inspiration to many of us,” Gonzalez said. “I wanted to integrate dance into my art and this project is related to my culture and my heritage.”
The two new portraits will join the Herstory Printmaking Collective’s gallery of greats on the Seventh Street side of The Hub, 601 N. Bullard St. For all of the events on offer at the Southwest Print Fiesta this weekend, visit southwestprintfiesta.org.