Iowa City is welcoming the Frogman’s Print Workshop for the first time in July 2023. The Frogman’s Print Workshop is one of the largest intensive printmaking workshops in the world, which draws hundreds of participants from across the U.S. to learn techniques from critically-acclaimed artists. The University of Iowa is the newest partner for the […]
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Iowa City is welcoming the Frogman’s Print Workshop for the first time in July 2023.The Frogman’s Print Workshop is one of the largest intensive printmaking workshops in the world, which draws hundreds of participants from across the U.S. to learn techniques from critically-acclaimed artists.The University of Iowa is the newest partner for the 40-year-old print workshop. It will house the 12 workshop sessions July 1 through 15.The partnership was finalized in September 2022 and announced a month later. UI alum and Frogman’s Workshop Director, Jeremy Menard, said the university was the perfect place for the workshops to go next.“We’re very excited about the move to Iowa City; it’s a great fit for both the university and Frogman’s,” he said. “Iowa has an excellent graduate program and a strong tradition in printmaking. The workshop offers opportunities for participants to be a part of the larger print community while learning techniques from the finest artists across North America.”Frogman’s will hold two separate sessions on the UI campus. Mr. Menard said up to 160 participants will be accepted into the program and will be housed throughout Iowa City.12 faculty members for the workshop will teach printmaking in the university’s facilities, which are ranked among the best in the country. The majority of the workshops’ activities, including classes, will take place in Art Building West and the Visual Arts Building on the west side of campus. Mr. Menard said another draw for the program to partner with the UI after working with University of South Dakota and the University of Nebraska at Omaha in past years was the Eastern Iowa Airport and Iowa City’s geographic location.“Iowa City is a little more centralized, from population centers like Chicago and St. Louis and Minneapolis,” he said. “It’s a bit of a hub. There will be short day trips to get to the workshop. And as for the faculty and facilities at the university, they’re phenomenal. (Our students) will have the opportunity to work in beautifully dedicated studios for etching and silkscreening. It’s a beautiful campus to explore and an ideal location.”The workshop started when Mr. Menard’s father, Lloyd Menard, took five Sioux City school teachers to South Dakota for a drawing class. It has not only expanded significantly within the methodologies taught, but in the individuals who participate. As it moves to Iowa for the first time, Assistant Printmaking Professor Terry Conrad will serve as the university’s 2023 liaison. He previously attended the workshops as a student and said only good things can come from the workshops arriving in Iowa City. “It was this wonderful, intense experience of the printmaking community coming together in one place,” Mr. Conrad said. “When Jeremy reached out to me, he wanted to grow Frogman’s and he knew the great facilities and students we have here as well as the deep history of printmaking.
Interacting with Iowa City businesses
As more than 100 students pour into the Eastern Corridor in July, Mr. Menard said businesses in the area can expect to see workshop students. While there are some group outings planned to create a community, he said there is additional time for people to explore the unique downtown area and campus.“Participants coming to Iowa City for the workshop will impact the local economy by visiting restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels, and more,” he said. “In addition to numerous exhibitions on campus, we will have a few off-campus exhibitions as well, including partnering with Public Space One for exhibitions at two of their venues.”The program is also partnering with Public Space 1 (PS1), a community-driven contemporary art center in Iowa City, and the Stanley Art Museum. PS1 Executive Director John Engelbrecht said its two spaces on Gilbert Street will host printmaking exhibitions in July. He also wants to work on a public art piece with a workshop instructor to include PS1’s IC Press Co-op members. While the art project has not been finalized, he said he hopes to still involve co-op members in the partnership.“At the print shop, we have 50 members who are printmaking members and regularly use our space,” Mr. Engelbrecht said. “My hope is that a couple of them want to make this (the partnership) something they look forward to and help realize and work through every year. I’m really hoping it grows. This year, we had to squeeze this exhibition in, but it’ll be something in the future that we take time off in our calendar to try and support Frogman’s and the printmaking world in Iowa City.”
Planning for the partnership's future
PS1 has an apartment on the third floor of its Close House on South Gilbert Street, Mr. Engelbrecht said. The organization wants to house a member or two of the workshop there in future years. “We will bring visiting artists in, and have an artist on site, and that’s one thing we’re really hoping for for July 2024,” he said.Mr. Menard plans to keep the main operations of the Frogman’s Print Workshops in Council Bluffs on the western side of the state. Staff members will continue to make regular trips to Iowa City. The workshop may move its operation to Iowa City down the road, he said, but that is not on the table quite yet.In his 22nd year with the organization, Mr. Menard is looking forward to the move and the opportunities it will present for workshop members across the board.“I look forward to Iowa being home to Frogman’s for many years to come,” he said. “...This is a wonderful opportunity for the university and for the workshops and for those participating in the workshops. Participants can tailor their experiences depending how much time they want to be in the studio or network with other artists or explore the community. There are a lot of opportunities here and the facilities are tremendous. I don’t know if participants could find a better place to learn.”