A Q&A with artist Susanna Crum on the opening of Calliope Arts

Oct 16, 2015 at 5:44 pm
A Q&A with artist Susanna Crum on the opening of Calliope Arts

[The above image is “Breaking the Loop (The Loop)” by Susanna Crum.]

Printmakers Susanna Crum and Rudy Salgado Jr. are the owners of the brand new Calliope Arts Printmaking Studio and Gallery (calliope-arts.com). It is something they have been thinking about and planning for since their college days.

LEO: You recently opened Calliope Arts as a collaborative space. Please explain how it works.

Susanna Crum: Calliope Arts provides opportunities for artists in four different ways: through monthly studio membership, which provides artists access to printing presses and equipment; exhibition opportunities with our workshop gallery; classes for experienced and first-time printmakers; and a visiting artist program for local and nationally-known artists.

LEO: Why did you feel Calliope Arts is needed in Louisville?

SC: Printmaking studios like Calliope Arts are located all across the country. Because Louisville’s art scene is steadily expanding, along with the metro area’s local university art programs, it’s especially necessary for artists to be able to find a space and a community to work in after school or when they’re trying to make a living to support their practice. Calliope’s Workshop Gallery exhibits fine art lithographs, woodcuts, screen prints and etchings from renowned and emerging artists around the country. Because prints are multiples, they are often a great entry point to collecting artwork. We look forward to opportunities to help Louisville area residents learn more about printmaking processes, print’s role in contemporary art and collecting original art to share with their friends and families.

LEO: Since part of the space is dedicated as a gallery, when do you plan to start showing exhibitions?

SC: Our Workshop Gallery is currently displaying framed and unframed work from artists working in studios and universities in France, California and Massachusetts. Our first visiting artist, Douglas Degges, a recent Millay Colony and Vermont Studio Center resident, is coming Oct 13-20 to make artwork, which we will also have on display. Curated, themed exhibitions are something that will start happening in the next year or so, in which we put out specific calls for entry.

LEO: As individual artists, what type of printmaking do you prefer to do?

SC: I have been making work in cyanotype, which is essentially a photographic blueprint process. I make work about the lost or forgotten histories of specific places, so I like to use the socially-charged history and visual language of printmaking to enrich my research-based projects. Rudy is looking into using a pneumatic engraver for his next project, which is basically a 21st-century take on a 15th-century tool. We’re both looking forward to working with local maker spaces to make wood blocks and plates with laser cutters and CNC routers.

LEO: Since you are printmakers who are married, tell us a little about your life stories. How did you meet?

SC: Rudy and I met at the University of Iowa in 2009, where we received our master’s degrees in printmaking. This means that throughout our relationship, we’ve always been very busy and working together towards specific goals for our art, life and work. We were both frustrated that our students often stopped making prints after graduation, because it’s so difficult to buy and house printmaking presses and equipment, and nothing really beats the collaborative atmosphere of a shared printing workspace. We moved to Louisville in 2012 to start Calliope Arts, which would provide a space for emerging artists to make work alongside professionals, which is something that meant a lot to us in both of our past experiences after college. We got married in October 2013, so our two-year anniversary is just around the corner, which is also about the anniversary of the time that we’ve spent working in the space that is now Calliope Arts. Running a business together has been intense and wonderful so far, because we have such different skills and interests. Rudy’s parents run a dental lab in Southern California, so he grew up in a live/work environment, with the lab on the same lot as his childhood home. He’s great at managing time and planning very complex processes like sourcing and receiving work for exhibitions, and I’m better at marketing, designing our classes and graphic design. Someday we may have help with some of these things, but I think we both got into art making because we love to do so many very different types of work, and our approach to art brings so many experiences into our lives.