Bold Statement

The first time I met Louisiana Bendolph was 10 years ago when she and her mother-in-law Mary Lee Bendolph came to the press in 2005. Both are quilters from the tiny hamlet of Gee’s Bend in Wilcox County, Alabama. The women of Gee’s Bend entered the spot-light in 2003 when their quilts were exhibited at the Whiney Museum of Art. Since that show, their quilts have traveled to numerous national and international venues.

Louisiana stands about 5 foot 4. She is patient and demure and a tiny bit shy, but you can immediately detect strength in her stature.

Louisiana Bendolph in the Paulson Bott Press studio, 2005

The stories Louisiana tells of her childhood are vastly different from mine. I am two years her elder, and I remember well the 1970s and my benign day-to-day routine growing up in the suburbs of Boston. Lou’s accounts of those same years reveal a life of hardship that is difficult for me to fathom. She spoke about leaving school to help harvest her family’s cotton crop. They plowed and planted with the help of a donkey. When she talks about her life as a daughter, wife, mother and quilter, her deep connection to her family is evident. Louisiana’s origins give her a straightforward practicality that guides her in times of trouble.

Over the past 10 years, we have done three print projects together. She works in solid colored cotton piecing her work together at the sewing machine. Her compositions are bold and forthright, but her asymmetrical lines are poetic and reveal a complex approach to her art.

Louisiana Bendolph-New Generation
Louisiana Bendolph, New Generation, 2007

Lou is not afraid to show us her strength. In New Generation, a print she made in 2007, she uses a confident composition of ivory, orange and brown. Alternating colored stripes radiate from a central brown strip. As the title suggests, Lou comes from a new generation of quilters who aim to move beyond the cultural obstacles of their communities’ past.

Her strength includes a willingness to speak frankly about what she believes. In 2007, I watched an unwavering Lou spontaneously take to the podium at a U.S. State Department dinner in Washington D.C. In front of 500 spectators, she thanked her mother and the women in her life, and she thanked the Arnett family for their contributions to her community. Louisiana continually champions the quilters of Gee’s Bend, traveling and speaking to audiences all over the world.

Randy Colosky, Jenn Doyle Crane, Justine Topfer, Don Farnsworth and Tallulah Terryll at Magnolia Editions, 2015

Thinking of Lou’s strength and resolve to usher in a new generation, we are pleased that her print New Generation has been chosen to be replicated in tile for the new terminal at the San Francisco International Airport as part of the San Francisco Art Commission’s public art program. The terminal will open to the public on November 13th of this year.

We are grateful to Justine Topfer from the art commission for choosing Lou’s work, to Don Farnsworth and Tallulah Terryll for making the tile, and to Randy Colosky for his help with the installation.

Hamsterbite, Softpound and Pianos. Making Prints with Caio Fonseca

The process of procuring a project with an artist can be more complex than you would think. Even the simple act of delivering an invitation can be quite an undertaking.  In 1996, when Pam and I formed our partnership, we drew up a list of artists we wished to publish and Caio Fonseca was high on that list.

Around this time Caio was on the cover of Modern Painters. A handsome young man seated in front of an impressive blue and white canvas, his gaze directed away from the viewer.  The article spoke of Fonseca’s love of classical music, his ability to play the piano and his multilingual background.   Evident in his lyrical abstractions is his Latin influence.

fonseca draws

Renee inks

At that time we had worked mainly with California artists.  As we set out to find a way to connect with Fonseca, we sought assistance from our colleague Betsy Senior.   Betsy had previously worked at Experimental Workshop in San Francisco but had gone on to open a gallery in New York on West Broadway in Soho. Betsy introduced us to a friend of hers who worked with Caio’s gallery at the time.  Three months later Pam and I were standing in Caio’s New York studio.

Pam and I were new to the experience of visiting an artist’s studio. I was completely overdressed. I had on a black skirt, nylons and heels, impossible for navigating the streets of New York.  Caio was dressed in comfortable clothes, wearing black jeans with a patina of paint splatter. His studio was romantic in the archetypal artist-studio way, as well as  rustic. In one corner was a grand piano.  As I tried not to squirm with discomfort and cursing my shoes, Caio put us at ease. Between his questions about printmaking Caio peppered the conversation with a hilarious pantomime of flipping open his leather wallet as if to answer a cell phone call. Cell phones were just hitting the market then, and Caio’s simulated cell phone ring and ensuing conversation had us laughing. After we managed to work out the dates for our first project, Caio offered us a cup of a “healthy green drink” and a Bach invention.  We moved to the grand piano, and Caio played several Bach fuges and a Mozart sonata.  I was transported to my youth, having grown up listening to my father play those same pieces on his grand piano.


When Caio came to work with us in 1999, Paulson Bott Press was located in its inaugural space in Emeryville. We rented him a small upright piano.  Since our studio was so small, we put the piano in our hallway.  Caio arrived carrying a leather bag, which he emptied it on the artist’s table. We marveled at his vast collection of implements, ranging from his handmade golden-mean calipers to everyday kitchen gadgets like pasta cutters and forks. Caio worked quickly, and it was all Pam and I could do to keep up with him. Printing an etching is slow, so while Caio waited to see his next proof, he would walk to the hallway and play a sonata or two.  He enjoyed discovering the printing process, and he was adept at creating his own vocabulary for our techniques. Terms like “spitbite” and “softground” he renamed “hamsterbite” and “softpound,” and although we laughed, we all knew exactly what he was talking about.

Pam and Caio


We have been collaborating with him to make etchings for almost twenty years and have produced a large body of work rooted in formalism. Caio continually draws inspiration from his musical background while his study of color and composition evolves. The most recent prints are forthright and vivid, signifying a strong direction within his oeuvre and within our work together.

Shaping a Master Printer

As part of the exhibit “Closely Considered – Diebenkorn in Berkeley” at the Richmond Art Center, Renee Bott was asked to speak this last Sunday on her experience working with Richard Diebenkorn. Here are some of her recollections.


By Renee Bott

When I look back at the years I worked with Richard Diebenkorn in the studio of Crown Point Press, I appreciate how that experience shaped my vision of what it meant to be an artist and, in turn, what it meant to be a printer. Over four years, Dick and I worked together on a total of four projects. We created a total of 20 editions.

I was 24 years old in 1985, and only a few months prior to meeting Dick, I received my master’s degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts (as it was then known) and was hired as a printer at Crown Point Press. At that time, Crown Point Press was located in downtown Oakland where Broadway intersected with San Pablo Avenue in a beautiful old retail space. Kathan Brown asked me to step in and help the three senior printers make and print the largest, most ambitious color etching that Diebenkorn ever created: Green, 1986.

Deibenkorn Combo
Printing Diebenkorn’s “Green”, 1986; Moving the press out of the Oakland studio to San Francisco.

As I worked in the back room steel-facing and preparing enormous plates, I was worried that I needed to be perfect. But Dick, with his certainty and quiet confidence, warmly welcomed me into his work ethos, a journey that accepted all, imperfections included.

Years later, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck and displaced Crown Point Press from its Folsom Street studio. It was an uncertain time, as Crown Point was forced to find temporary refuge for the gallery and studio. Kathan found a space several blocks south of the old location. It was an old garage that ran west to east for one city block between Folsom and Shipley.

The space was dank and dark, with florescent tubes that cast a hard blue light—a stark contrast to the beauty and grace of the Folsom Street studio. The earthquake had disturbed the homes of thousands, including the city rats. The rats often visited us, scurrying along the pipes that ran over our heads. After a while, our squeals of horror turned to nonchalance as we realized that they, too, were just looking for a new home.

It was in this environment that Kathan asked me to lead a project with Dick to make a set of small etchings for Arion Press’s book of poems by Yeats. Despite the chaos, I remember feeling so grateful to be given this chance to work with Dick again, even if we were in what felt like an underground cave. At one point near the end of that project, Dick, Kathan, and all of the printers gathered for lunch around a small coffee table. A rat ran by on a pipe above our heads, and a silence descended on the group. We all prayed that Dick would not notice our visitor. After an awkward moment, Dick smiled and asked “Was that one of our furry friends?” We all laughed hysterically. Dick was such a humble man. I believe he felt gratitude that we were all there with him, working together, even if it meant having to work around “furry friends.”

The six small plates created for the Yeats books were presented to Andrew Hoyem of Arion Press at a lunch prepared at the Dienbenkorns’ Healdsburg home. We drank crisp white wine and ate the lovely salmon that Phyllis, Dick’s wife, had prepared. After lunch, Dick asked me to show Andrew the prints. I untied a small portfolio containing the six images. Carefully turning the prints over like pages in a book, I gave everyone a moment to admire the work. No one said a word, but I felt that we were united by the prints.

Diebenkorn all coats
Richard Diebenkorn: Etchings for Poems by W. B. Yeats, 1990


As I prepared to leave, Dick put his hand on my shoulder and told me he liked the way I had shown the prints to Andrew. It felt like a ray of sunlight on my heart. His grace and humility stay with me to this day, informing my life’s work as a master printer.


I met Erik Heywood a little over a year ago, soon after he launched his website Book/Shop. The website offers seasonal reading lists, library furniture and fittings, art, books, and delicious chocolate.
I was struck immediately by Erik’s passion for literature and books and his exquisite eye for design. His extensive knowledge of books and obscure publications provides a refreshing break from the culture of “insta-knowledge” and onscreen reading. Erik studied English but soon left school to sell antique furniture. He worked briefly making props for Martha Stewart, then pursued both interior design and retail branding.

In March, Erik took the keys to a quaint, 250-square-foot space in the thriving Temescal neighborhood in Oakland and set up the brick -and-mortar Book/Shop. In addition to acquiring books, he is amassing and designing several lines of merchandise related to reading: beautifully handcrafted canvas book bags detailed with fine Japanese leather, small portable bookshelves made from a variety of beautiful woods, (we bought five for the press and some for home too!), stackable bookshelf components, modernist furniture, art, and lighting.

The "Ballast" Bookbag, Raregem Japan + Book/Shop
The “Ballast” Bookbag, Raregem Japan + Book/Shop
Erik Heywood
Erik Heywood

Erik’s enthusiasm about our gallery program spurred us to collaborate. He is currently featuring five of our new Maira Kalman prints on the north wall of Book/Shop, and he has invited Maira Kalman to curate a pop-up bookshelf at the press in late September. (We will keep you posted about the date.) I hope you take the time to visit Erik’s shop. His attention to fine detail is truly extraordinary.

BOOK/SHOP 482D 49th Street, Oakland, CA, 94709. Tues.-Sat. 12-5. 510-907-9649

Collector Profile: Ross Evangelista

Ross Evangelista in front of painting by Gerben Mulder; Tauba Auerbach, 50/50 Random (Fine) , Tauba Auerbach, 50/50 Random (Coarse)


When I was in New York earlier this spring I had the good fortune of being invited to our client Ross Evangelista’s house for lunch. Since finishing graduate school at Fordham, Ross has been working in the financial services industry. Mike, Ross’s partner, enjoys moderate doses of art viewing and gives Ross plenty of latitude when it comes to collecting. I was curious to see Ross’s collection, and I never turn down an offer for a home-cooked lunch. Mike commandeered the kitchen while I spoke with Ross about his relatively new obsession: collecting art.

Renee: Can you repeat what you were saying to me earlier about collecting art?

Ross:   There’s a tendency for collectors to be obsessive. There’s something about collecting and obsession that are related to one another. Collectors end up getting more than their walls are capable of taking. Mike is laughing because he doesn’t think that’s healthy.

Mike:  We’ve actually had discussions about whether putting paintings on the ceiling was an option. Or could they go behind the doors? That one little bit of wall space there…that I have…that has the Buddhas on it…how about if we just wall-board that? That would actually then give him more space. Limited wall space is a challenge—he can have two or three pictures propped up against the walls. I make him shift them about.

Ross:    So whether or not it’s true for every collector, I don’t know, but I’ve spoken to a few collectors, and they say, “Yeah, it’s kind of a disease.” Gallerists are always saying not to sell anyone, especially the young artists.

Richard Misrach, Untitled #213-04

Renee:  Don’t sell them?

Ross:   Don’t sell them. Don’t put them at auction. So what is our option? Basically, accumulate. I have spoken to some collectors who say that they do sell some works, and they put others in storage. We don’t have the luxury of storage, and I’d rather live with my pieces. What happens is it all gets to be more fun. Somehow, they find their place somewhere.

Renee:   What about the idea of curating your collection? I have a friend who’s an obsessive collector. He decided to build a closet to store his extra work. He curates his own shows! Every month or two, he pulls out a new set of work and rehangs his apartment.

Ross:  Wow. Does he do it himself, or does he have people helping him?

Renee:  He does a lot of it himself.

Mike:   Thank you for that great suggestion. (Sarcastic laughter) I like that idea a lot!
Ross: I’ve considered that also. That’s sort of what we do, especially when we get new pieces. We want to live with them, so when a new piece comes in, we often have to move others around. Really it’s a function of size and space—like the Auerbach prints that I got from you that are in our Long Island house instead of our apartment, because there’s more wall space out there.I’ve considered curating, but you have to rehang and repaint the walls. I sold a print in the bedroom, and I haven’t even filled the holes in yet! Plus, we are in desperate need of better lighting.

Jessica Eaton, Cfaal 241 and Tauba Auerbach, Plate Distortion I.

Renee: When did your art passion begin? Is this something you’ve been doing for a long time? Or is this something that started recently?

Ross:  It started about six, seven years ago. I’ve always been interested in art. I studied architecture, drawing, and studio arts in college, but never had the income to buy art. I moved around a lot before that. I lived in Connecticut, the Philippines, Germany, so acquiring art never occurred to me, since I lived out of two suitcases for a long time, because you’re only allowed two suitcases on international flights.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Mechanical Form 0026

I think what eventually triggered my interest in collecting was getting exposed to online art blogs such as Modern Art Obsession and Artmostfierce as examples, which are (were, in the case of MAO) run by long-time collectors. Both of them featured “Buys of the Month,” which would feature prints by respectable artists at reasonable prices. Phillips de Pury & Company was also around the corner on 18th Street. We would sometimes go and look there, realizing full well that I couldn’t afford to buy at the time.

Back then, Jennifer Beckman had started something called 20X200. I started out buying from 20×200. I must have 20 or so prints from Jen. Afterwards, I started purchasing limited edition prints from Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography. I also have a few limited-edition Aperture and  AIDS Community Research Initiative of America photos (ACRIA) too. We try to go to galleries every week. When we travel, seeing art is definitely part of our agenda, which Mike doesn’t always like. You like seeing art, right?

Nicole Eisenman, Untitled (Left) Julian Lorber, Untitled (Right)

Mike:  In moderation.

Ross:   In moderation, yeah. For me, the key to getting into collecting was understanding that art is accessible. I let go of my fear of asking gallerists questions. I was trying to understand what artists do. I think a lot of people are afraid of art collecting because they’re afraid of asking questions. They’re afraid of not “getting it.” Of not knowing. My real collecting started after I got over that hump.

Renee:   Do you remember the first piece you bought from a gallery?

Sarah Pickering, Abduction (Left) Sarah Pcikering, Fuel Air Explosion (Right)

Ross:  Sure. This is actually the first piece.  (Sarah Pickering: Fuel Air Explosion).  It’s part of her Explosion series. That’s my first real print from a gallery, from Daniel Cooney Fine Art.  He’s a great gallerist, by the way.  This is also Sarah Pickering.  (Sarah Pickering: Abduction)

Renee:  I love that one.


Ross: It’s awesome right?  I had that framed at Bark Frameworks since it’s so special to me. New York Magazine featured them as the “best” framer in NYC. I didn’t know then how dear “best” framing is!

Renee:   Tell me a little bit more about her.

Ross:   As I understood it, her body of work then had a lot to do with keeping public order. She is from the UK, and a number of her series depict training grounds for policemen, firefighters, and investigators. In her photographs, you see what looks like a real street and real houses, but they’re fake. They are training sets. She worked with public officials to accomplish this. She’s a bit of a pyro, right?

Renee:  Yes.

Ross:  This is called Abduction. For this piece, she worked with the fire department. They would create a whole room and set it on fire to train firefighters how to look for a fire, how to fight them. They would leave clues. If you look closely, there’s a gun on the couch. It’s a very active piece. Even the explosion is a bit narrative. You ask, “How did this happen? Why is there an explosion? Is this a war zone?” You don’t know because they are so well composed.

Renee: It’s stunning!

Ross:   From there, the floodgates opened. I finished grad school around 2005. I didn’t have much money. I still save up and try to look for good value and for what is interesting to me. Tauba Auerbach’s 50/50 prints were probably my next large purchase. I can’t remember if I bought all three at the same time, but I have three.

Sara Vanderbeek, Treme School Window, Baltimore Window

Renee: I think you did. You have the Zoom In Zoom Out. It’s fabulous! Mike said that you’re reading all the time, educating yourself. Do you find that you want to get informed after walking into a show and being intrigued by what you see? Or are you doing research first and then seeking out the artists that you read about?

Ross:  I think both. I am definitely very research-driven in terms of what I look at. Even though I can’t add something to the collection, I still read about it. I’d even include it on my blog, which is a repository of works I own and works that I’d love to own. I have a lot of art books. I’m not sure about the real purpose, I just like doing research. Otherwise you are just a buyer. I don’t want to be just a shopper or a decorator. I want to be informed about what I’m collecting.

Asking Questions

John Cage 1987 surrounded by charts of random numbers

When Tauba Auerbach came to work with us at the end of 2012, I found myself thinking often about the composer and artist John Cage. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Cage in the late 1980s at Crown Point Press. Cage used a method of composing using the I Ching to facilitate “chance operations” to make his art. He believed that his responsibility was to ask questions rather than make choices.

Marsha Bartholomy works with John Cage at Crown Point Press 1987

Cage would sit down at one of the large artist tables in the studio to compose­­­, pencil in hand, predetermined materials selected, questions queried. During this process, he would consult one of the numerous charts of random numbers that he travelled with. Silence would descend on the studio while he worked, and graceful handwritten lists of lilted numbers written in graphite resulted. His number compositions functioned as a list of instructions. The directives were performed, resulting in a John Cage print. As with Cage, Auerbach’s process poses questions, but in her case, it is her intuition that informs her decisions, not the I Ching.

Tauba Auerbach prints in the Paulson Bott Press studio: Mesh/Morie 1-VI, 2013. Printer Maggie McManus curates prints.

Kenneth Caldwell aptly describes her relationship to chance and her creative process: “Nothing seems placed by accident, and yet chance continues to play a significant role in the artist’s work. A lot of Auerbach’s art is about the tension between an almost total control over what goes into a process and an absence of control about the result that emerges from that process. She explores her system and process thoroughly, with thought and experimentation, and then when she’s ready, she lets go.”


While making the Mesh/Moire series, Auerbach created seven subtly different softground plates. A visual difference between any of these plates is imperceptible to the eye, and it wasn’t until two of these plates were printed together that a moiré pattern emerged.

Tauba Auerbach, Mesh/Moire IV, 2013

Printing combinations of two of the seven plates together yielded 42 possible permutations. Of those, she found six moirés pleasing. Auerbach’s meticulous adherence to her idea and the chance involved in the making of these plates is what reminded me so much of Cage. Both artists were charming and lovely to work with, and it has been a privilege to have been involved with their process. The strength of these two artists lies in their ability to turn inquiries into stunning visual results.


Collector’s Profile: Martin Maguss and Mari Iki

Martin Maguss and Mari Iki / photograph installation by Sean McFarland

Mari Iki and Martin Maguss are San Francisco collectors. They are avid collectors and have amassed an impressive collection with a modest budget.  Over the years, they have purchased works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauchenberg, Keith Haring, Francis Bacon, Nan Goldin, Gary Simmons, Vik Muniz—the list goes on. They have also been great supporters of the many local art galleries.  Pam and I met them in the late 1990s at the first Blackman art fair at Fort Mason where they purchased a small print from us.  At a recent dinner for the artist Gary Simmons, we found out that Martin began collecting art in high school. I wanted to see their collection, and I asked if I could interview them.


Q:                            Martin, when did your passion for collecting art begin?



My dad instilled the values—you save up, then you can buy what you want. Growing up in Canada, I was excited about American culture. In high school, Lichtenstein and Warhol were on my radar. I had a part-time job and saved enough to buy my first piece.


Q:  The Lichtenstein was the first piece you purchased?



Yes. I showed it to my dad, and said, “I bought this artwork by an American artist who I absolutely admire, Roy Lichtenstein.” My dad asked me how much I paid for it, and when I told him, he was livid. I said, “Wait a minute. You told me to save, and if I saved enough money, I could buy whatever I wanted. So this is a win for everybody. Now I want to go to New York and meet Andy.” My dad said, “Andy who?” I told him, “I want to meet Andy Warhol.”

Roy Lichtenstein, Hand and Foot, 1964 Color Silk Screen Print

Q:    How did you know about these artists?



I was attracted to pop culture. While in high school, I’d also spend my free time in the National Gallery of Canada looking at Claes Oldenburg’s Bedroom Suite and the work of James Rosenquist. Expo 67 was also a big influence, because the American pavilion exhibited all the Pop artists. I travelled to Montreal to see it!

In university, I majored in graphic design and photography. I spent a great deal of time with close friends, having wonderful dialogues about the current artists—Julian Schnabel, Francesco Clemente, and others in the early 1980s.


Q:   Did you get to meet Andy Warhol?

Dining Room


Yes. I got on a Greyhound bus and went to New York. It was a different time, you could just do it. I’d met him a couple of times in Toronto as well. Meeting him really did change my perspective on art.


Q:     So when you and Mari met, your relationship revolved around art?



We were talking, obviously, a lot about art. She took me to the Berkeley Art Museum to see this painting that she just loved.



I said, “Oh, you have to see this museum, because it’s just great.” I would go there all the time. I showed him my favorite piece—a painting by Francis Bacon.


Q:   Mari, was there a conscious moment when you decided to start collecting?



For as far back as I can remember, whenever I travelled with my family, I went to museums. I stood in line to attend the Avedon retrospective that David Ross curated at the Berkeley Art Museum. I had all these posters of amazing shows that I’d been to. Later, after Martin and I met, we went to the Fraenkel Gallery.



That was October 1984.



Martin asked Jeffrey Fraenkel to show us the Mapplethorpe still lifes. They were gorgeous black and white images of orchids. I forget how much they were—$500, $700—but I just said, “Wow…that’s so much for a black and white multiple.” Martin told me, “You spend money on posters, you should think of getting the real thing. Like these photographs, they’re beautiful.” We never got one!

Before I met Martin, I used to go into the Stephen Wirtz Gallery, always looking at Raymond Saunders’s work. Later, I went in with Martin and looked at a Raymond Saunders print maybe ten times. Finally, with guidance from Stephen Wirtz, the Saunders print was the first piece that I purchased.

Nan Goldin’s photograph: Skyline from My Window – NYC, 1999 anchors the entry way wall.

Q:   But did you have to agree on this, or was this your own endeavor? 



That was my first contemporary art “acquisition,” but we do tend to agree.



The amazing thing about our relationship is if Mari and I see an exhibition, we will usually independently pick out the exact same piece. We have to work within a budget—we don’t have a lot of “disposable income”—we both have regular jobs.



Frankly, when we’re interviewed about collecting, it’s to show that anybody can collect.


Q: There must have been a point at which you realized…



We saw a segment on 60 Minutes in 1995.


Q:   It’s not about the Vogels is it?



Yes—Herb and Dorothy!



We had an epiphany. They were such an influence to us! They didn’t have a fancy New York City lifestyle, and they had a comparable budget to work with. We thought, “Here are people who think in a similar way.”



They have some of the same priorities! It’s okay to not want to get a new sofa or something, but to purchase art. Most of our decisions revolve around looking at or purchasing art. Our friends thought we were crazy.

Vik Muniz’s ceramic plate Medusa, 1999 rests on the dining room table

Q:   I want to focus for a moment on the idea of curating a collection. Do you have an overarching idea for your collection, or is it based on a gut reaction?



It is an informed gut reaction. I once asked a friend why a museum director had spent extra time with us. He said, “Because I explained to him that you have a collection.” I said, “But we don’t have a collection. We just collect.”


Q: Is that how you still think of it today? Or now that you have all this work, do you feel a sense of responsibility?



We do feel a certain responsibility. What happens to it when we’re not here? We haven’t really come up with…


Q:   The perfect plan?



Yes. The one thing we’re consistent about…for any work in our collection, we will always loan for educational purposes. It’s for the betterment of the artist’s career; it’s not about us, it’s for them.


Q:  What about your relationship to the artists who make the work? Is it important to meet the artist? Or does that change the relationship?



When we can meet them, it’s wonderful. For example, Sean McFarland, who shows at Eli Ridgway Gallery, is an emerging photographer, and we’ve learned a lot about his work by getting to know him.



I’ve always said to Mari, if there’s an opportunity to meet an artist, we should. I remember when Mari met Diebenkorn and Thiebaud; I met Warhol, Haring, and others. If you can hear them talking about their work, that’s the best!

Deborah Oropallo’s painting High Heat (Respirators), 2002 in spotlight

Q:   There’s no substitute for that.



You’ve worked with Martin Puryear, Caio Fonseca, Radcliffe Bailey, Gary Simmons, and other artists that we admire. Artists that are continuing the line of creativity. Whether they work with paint, wood or other media—when they come into your studio and address another medium, the creativity is all the same! For us, there’s little distinction between painting, drawing, and works on paper.


Q:  What is your advice to the novice collector?



Look everywhere, read a lot, and then remember to look at the new and emerging artists and galleries.



Mari and I spend an inordinate amount of time not only looking at work, but also talking about work. We’re always looking, even when we know we won’t be purchasing. We never buy for investment.


There are always opportunities for young collectors. Someone might not have the budget for a Kerry James Marshall painting, but they could consider one of his amazing prints.



Gary Simmons: An Account of Time

Bonham Marquee 2012 and Chandelier Spin 2012

Some ideas take years to cultivate. Printers need a patient side.
In 1997 Paulson Bott Press was a year old.  We had several projects underway and were enjoying the exhilaration of starting a new business and achieving some success. In November of that year, Pam and I left our first studio in Emeryville for our second trip to New York to visit some artists.  Gary Simmons was the first person on our list; we had arranged to meet in his studio on a cold November morning.

Gary’s studio was located on one of the many floors of a vast studio building in Chelsea. At that time he had an exhibition up at Metro Pictures. He said the next few years were extremely busy for him, but he would consider our invitation to come to the east bay and make prints.

In the years that followed, I was fortunate to see several of Gary’s exhibitions and installations. I always appreciate it when I experience a transcendent art moment. By this, I mean a moment when I connect to the work in a way that makes me want to remember what I saw, to remember how I felt when I stood in front of that piece. Gary’s installation at the Contemporary Museum of Art in San Diego in 1997 was a moment like that.

Directly across from the main entrance to the museum, I could see his work on the far gallery wall. I didn’t hesitate; the force of his work pulled me in. I paused before his installation Gazebo.  It was a breathtaking, larger than life drawing of a gazebo on a dark charcoal wall with Gary’s signature “erasure” of the chalk drawn structure.  It was like a wild wind had encircled the porch. Or perhaps it was a fading memory. Rife with historical references the work conjured southern mansions and formal tea along with echoes of the long civil rights battles still being waged today.

Gary Simmons: Gazebo, 1997

Years later, in the fall of 2010, I picked up Gary from the Anthony Meiers Gallery in San Francisco. He and his assistant folded themselves into my Mini Cooper and we headed over to our studio in Berkeley for lunch and a tour of the press. He was serious about our invitation; it just took him a while to get around to accepting it.

Starlite Theatre 2012

Gary was immediately at ease in the studio, experimenting with everything available to try out on a copper plate.  With his presence the studio instantly had a different energy, the printers curious and watchful, eager to engage with this thoughtful and talkative artist.  It is a great feeling to be involved in the moment of an artist’s creation. Discoveries are being made, mistakes are happening. The trial and error of working with a new medium gives way to something new and magical. 

In November of 2010 Pam and I once again climbed the stairs to his New York studio.  We were in town to see the Armory Fair. By that Friday afternoon, we had already seen a whole lot of art and our feet were tired. The studio was pristine.  The walls were carefully arranged with his latest work, completed and ready to ship to Simon Lee in London for his opening there.  After the pandemonium of the art fair, Gary’s quiet studio was uplifting, like walking in to a cool cathedral on a hot summer day in Rome.  Pam and I sat down and admired his ghost ships and deck chairs. This was, hands down, the most exciting art we had seen in New York that week.

Gary worked at Paulson Bott Press for a week in the fall of 2011 and completed three prints. He came back for a few more days in January 2012 and completed the project, making three more images.  The first three prints reference Kubrick’s film The Shining.Two of the prints taunt us with the repeated type written line “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  The third, a large six panel piece depicts two ominously swinging turn of the century chandeliers from a scene of the hotel’s interior. Another related image is a spinning classical chandelier from a still of Hitchcock’s masterpiece Marnie . Simmons has a fascination with horror movies and related material including theater marquees, which are the subjects for two more of his prints. Images of the Bonham and Starlite marquees shimmer as if blinking out for the final time as they disappear from the American landscape.

Last month we returned to Gary’s studio to sign prints. We were delighted that the discussion touched on ideas for future projects. Gary explained that the process had led him to think about his mark making differently. That he had enjoyed the experience of spending more time in the space of making his drawings. Some things just take time.

All Work And No Play, 2011
All Work Reversal, 2011


Getting to know Ross

Everything about working with Ross Bleckner is glamorous. Our new release of nine chromatically brilliant flowers and three mysterious, dark rondos serves as a perfect backdrop for the story of how Pam and I met Ross and convinced him to make prints with us in our first studio in Emeryville, California.

In 1998, Paulson Bott Press was just two years old. We entered the print publishing scene in 1996 with the release of four color etchings by Christopher Brown.

Renee Bott hold the victory “V” over Pam Paulson’s head. Emeryville Studio 1997

As huge admirers of Ross’s work, we decided to invite him to our studio. I found an address for him by sleuthing the Internet and wrote a letter introducing myself and asking if we could meet. I explained that Pam and I were going to be in New York in two weeks. The days passed and we never heard back from Ross. Time was running out. Katrina Traywick, our sales director at the time, was quick to point out that everyone in New York has their phone numbers listed (even famous people), and sure enough, I found his phone number in the white pages. Two days prior to our departure date, I called him. 

Katrina Traywick at the computer while Renee works with Radcliffe Bailey, 1997

Ross had no idea who I was, since he had not received our letter. I quickly explained. He was very sweet and friendly. He told me that we could meet at his opening atLehmann Maupin that coming weekend in SOHO.

On the plane to New York, Pam and I were chatting excitedly about our upcoming adventures when I flipped open Vanity Fair to a page with a photo of Ross. There he was, beautifully dressed in a tuxedo, drinking a martini at a fundraiser. I thought, “He is so glam. How can we possibly approach him?”

I remember how we carefully planned our arrival at the gallery for 4:30 pm. We were a few minutes early and found Ross preparing for the reception. I introduced myself and he shook my hand. Suddenly there was a video camera in my face and my whole introduction to Ross was being recorded for history’s sake! I’m sure I was underdressed for the occasion. I do know that I was able to secure a meeting with him at his White Street Studio for the next day. Mission accomplished.

That opening was perhaps one of the most memorable nights I had in SOHO as it used to be. Having worked at Crown Point Press for several years, we had the opportunity to meet and work with many of the art stars in attendance that evening: David True, Alex Katz, Eric Fischl, Gary Stephen, and Bryan Hunt, to name a few. Absolute Vodka was sponsoring the event, and several tables were set up around the gallery with fanciful vodka creations.

The next day at the White Street Studio, Ross was astute and quick to quiz us on our mission. Why make prints? Why with you? When Pam and I left, we were trying to weigh the outcome of the conversation.

It took about seven months to convince Ross to make the time to visit us at our Emeryville studio in 1999. Every time I called, he never said no. So I kept calling. 

Ross Bleckner, Leader Sequence, 2002, Color Aquatint Etching,Published by Paulson Bott Press

The first time we worked together, Ross completed ten stellar prints. He has come back three times over the last twelve years and has completed fifty editions with us. Each time he works with us, he sweeps us away with his New York energy and glamor.


Renee enjoying the glamor!