Shop Tour: La Cucaracha Press

La Cucaracha Press, started in 2011, is a Kansas City print shop run by Jordan Carr and Nicholas Naughton. Jordan has over a decade of experience screen-printing, mainly focused on broadsides for music venues and his own work. Nick originally started printmaking at the University of Iowa, and went on to earn his MFA from New Mexico State University, finally landing in Kansas City where he teaches part-time at the Kansas City Art Institute. The press’ name comes from Chicano Movement activist Oscar Zeta Acosta’s book The Revolt of the Cockroach People, a book that underscores the 1970 Chicano Moratorium protests, and more broadly deals with issues of social injustice, war, and political activism.

The duo work out of a shop at the City Arts Project in the historic City Ice Arts Building in the east crossroads in Kansas City. The complex is home to La Cucaracha Press, a produce market, and other galleries and artist work spaces. I recently took a tour of the shop. The C&P was rolling when I arrived, and the shop was warm and inviting. A french press was brewing coffee, lead type and composing sticks were here and there, and the smell of ink was in the air.

Chandler & Price

Jordan and Nicholas are usually working on projects for clients, though their shop offerings also include a membership program, a brand new edition release every two months, printmaking classes and workshops, and paper goods for sale at the front of the shop. One upcoming project is Laundromat, a collaborative printmaking project organized by Sean Starwars. As the title suggests, it will be held at a laundromat, and not only explores printmaking, but also examines public space as a vessel and forum to the local community.

 

With the closing of the Arts Incubator community print shop in 2011, the Kansas City art community lost an important printmaking resource. Many artists rented press time at the facility, of which Nick was the director. Soon after its closing, Jordan and Nick, armed with a modest $1,500 budget, attended the liquidation auction. They were able to acquire several important pieces of equipment, including their Chandler and Price letterpress (made possible by a Bread!KC grant), numerous tables, ink, and other supplies. Having made sure that the equipment would stay in Kansas City, they decided to make it available, once again, to local artists, this time through their membership program at La Cucaracha Press. Their exposure unit was purchased from the Kansas City Art Institute, and this past summer they acquired a huge lot of lead and wood type.

Artists can drop by to expose their silk screen(s), at a minimal fee, and La Cucaracha provides emulsion and support.

 

 Illustration by Dick Daniels

Another illustration by Dick Daniels!

Vandercook Proof Press

Promotional poster for Linotype: The Film, designed by Callahan Creek.

Things look promising for Nick and Jordan, with a recent feature in The Pitch (Kansas City’s weekly independent paper) and an invitation to speak at the Kauffman Foundation. In a very short time, they’ve already built a name for themselves, working with a number of local entrepreneurs, shops and restaurants, editioning for artists, and working with institutions like the University of Missouri Kansas City, ArtsKC, and the Kansas City Art Institute. Things look bright, and they have plenty of enthusiasm and ideas to continue to grow La Cucaracha Press in the future.

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Categories: Printshop Tour


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