Eleanor Rubin: Living the Mission
By Stephanie Stigliano
Printmakers are an altruistic and energetic band of artists. We embody democratic ideals of shared resources, knowledge, and space. These qualities are integral to our mission at The Boston Printmakers. In her life and her art, longtime member Eleanor Rubin has worked “to promote public knowledge, understanding, and support for printmaking;” she has sought to “encourage and support artists working in printmaking.” Her most recent act of generosity is the focus of this essay.
Eleanor Rubin with her new American French Tool press in 1972, Eleanor Rubin and Tom Lewis in 1972
In October 2016, Eleanor contacted me at The Boston Printmakers about her wish to donate her beloved American French Tool Press to a school or collaborative studio. Andre Eugene Beudoin designed, constructed and installed the press in 1972 for Eleanor and her collaborator, Tom Lewis. As members of The Catonsville Nine, they created political posters in resistance to the Vietnam War and continued to print activist art work throughout the following decades until Tom’s death in 2008. Eleanor’s prints are included in collections nationwide and she continues to work and exhibit widely. With my persistence, the leadership and guidance of Pine Manor College Dean Diane Mello-Goldener, and the open-minded vision of President Tom O’Reilly, a plan emerged.
The school has a spacious ground level printmaking studio with a concrete floor, a wide double door and close access to a paved driveway. Ideal! No challenging steps or hallways to navigate, just a minor concern about the electrical wires adjacent to the entrance…
Steve Potter and Romel Jean DesHommes, using the lever, with Michael Robinson, far right, in the West Newton studio
On June 26th, 2017 Eleanor Rubin said goodbye to her behemoth. Her husband David pried open the studio walls that had housed the press for forty-five years. The truck from Titan Moving Company (also known as Death Wish Piano Movers!) arrived at her West Newton studio at 10am. A team of agile and speedy riggers strapped the press, raised it with a lever and pushed it out of the studio door, where it was hooked and hoisted into the air. Neighbors gathered to witness the 2,620 pounds of steel dangling high above the red barn. Lift operator Chuck Boudreaux slowly guided it onto the truck bed. Upon arrival at the Pine Manor campus, Steven Potter gave directional hand signals to Boudreaux while Romel Jean DesHommes and Michael Robins on efficiently coaxed it into place without further ado or unnecessary conversation. All done without hardhats, steel toed shoes, cursing or straining! They finished at 1pm and left for their next job, moving a couch. They probably didn’t need the lift.
Chuck Boudreau drives the lift, press suspended over the print studio at Pine Manor College
Steve gestures to Chuck while Romel Jean and Michael guide the press; One last push in the door
In its new home, the size and power of this American French Tool Press, with its 40 x 70” press bed, will inspire a new generation of artists and give voice to their visions. Making artwork at this scale requires physical exertion, and an extra commitment of time and materials. This fall the students will make 22 x 30” mono prints from gestural figurative studies; taking advantage of its size, strength and unlimited possibilities.
Eleanor and her prints, June 2017
Here is a sampling of Eleanor’s prints. She invited legendary printers such as Constance Jacobson andMichael Mazur to create prints on this press. It is infused with the spirit of greatness! In the generosity embodied by printmakers everywhere, and especially in the heart of Eleanor Rubin, Pine Manor would like to invite artists visit the campus and print on this press.
Steve uses the lever while Michael and Romel Jean assist, the press in place and awaiting printers.
Please contact Stephanie Stigliano at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We plan a welcoming ceremony for the press to introduce Eleanor to her Pine Manor College fan club. Look for upcoming details in Member News! To see more of Eleanor’s artwork, please visit: www.ellyrubin.com