Who We Are

When I started Crown Point Press in 1962 my equipment was a typewriter and a hand-cranked etching press. I worked alone, printing the prints, helping artists make plates, and generally running things. Now, we have a staff of ten (Valerie Wade is our director), and we have computers, websites, and a gallery alongside our studio. Our business has been radically changed by technology, but our means of production has not changed. Artists still draw on copper plates, and printers still ink and print them by hand.

In 1965 Richard Diebenkorn drew a woman’s face on a plate and fifty-one years later Jacqueline Humphries, working at the same table, integrated emojis with abstraction. She said she was thinking about the plates, not the prints. “The plates make the print.”

Take a look at the list of artists we have published. They come to San Francisco from around the world to work with us in our historic building, built in 1922 for the San Francisco News. If you can, visit our gallery. We are across the street from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Besides creating and publishing etchings, we also publish the Magical Secrets instructional books for etching and hold summer workshops open to all. Archives of our prints are held by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Kathan Brown
Founding Director

History

How We Got Here

Crown Point Press began in 1962 as a print workshop, and started publishing prints in 1965 with etching portfolios by Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud. It functioned as both workshop and publisher until 1971 when its founder, Kathan Brown, formed an alliance with the New York publisher Parasol Press. In that year Crown Point Press moved from Brown’s Berkeley basement to a loft space in downtown Oakland, and —through Parasol Press— began working with New York artists Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden, and others who would later be seen as key members of the Minimal art movement.

In 1977 Crown Point Press shifted its emphasis back to its own publishing program, and began working with a group of mainly Conceptual artists including Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, Tom Marioni, Hans Haacke, and John Cage. Click here for a list of artists published by Crown Point. They represent a variety of contemporary art approaches, and many of them live in countries other than the United States.

Art historian Susan Tallman in her 1996 book, The Contemporary Print, describes Crown Point Press as “the most instrumental American printshop in the revival of etching as a medium of serious art.” Much credit is due to Karen McCready, sales director of Crown Point from 1982 through 1995. She opened and directed a Crown Point Press gallery in New York’s SoHo district, and her success there encouraged the addition of Asian woodcut techniques to the press’s printmaking activity.

In 1982, the 20th anniversary year of Crown Point Press, the press began a program in which two or three artists a year traveled to Kyoto, Japan, to work with printer Tadashi Toda. His family had handed down traditional watercolor woodcut printing skills since the 17th century. That program led to a similar one in China, which began in 1986. Both programs, however, ended in 1989, when a major earthquake in San Francisco unexpectedly caused Crown Point’s move to its present location on Hawthorne Street. To learn more about the woodblock programs in Japan and China, click here.

Aside from the Asian woodblock programs, Crown Point has always concentrated on etching. Its director Valerie Wade, who joined Crown Point in 1988, has shepherded the press since San Francisco’s 1989 earthquake and subsequent move to its Hawthorne Street building.

Crown Point Press celebrated its 25th birthday with an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and archives of its work are owned by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. An exhibition jointly sponsored by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the National Gallery was held in 1997, Crown Point’s 35th year.

In 2012, Crown Point Press celebrated its 50th anniversary, and Kathan Brown published her memoir, Know That You Are Lucky  the same year. The exhibition Yes, No, Maybe: Artists Working at Crown Point Press at the National Gallery featured 125 workings proofs and final prints by 25 artists who worked at Crown Point Press from 1972 through 2010. The catalog accompanying the exhibition has an essay by curators Judith Brodie and Adam Greenhalgh.

Crown Point Press is located in San Francisco, its entrance on Hawthorne Street around the corner from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Its gallery is open to the public. With a staff of ten, Crown Point produces and publishes etchings by three or four invited artists a year. It also holds summer workshops open to all.

To keep up-to-date on what’s new in the Crown Point Press gallery and studio, sign up to receive email announcements in the footer below.

Process

Why We Make Etchings

We make etchings because there is no more subtle print process, nor one that is capable of being more dynamic. Rich dark areas of ink are deeply embedded in the paper, while fine lines and delicate washes lie on or near the surface. Our method of printing is the only one that does not simply deposit ink as a film on a sheet of paper. Instead, it embosses the paper with the inked image.

Etching is the primary way an artist marks the printing plates. Intaglio is the printing method. First, the artist draws on a copper plate using a sharp tool and/or materials like soap, sugar, tar or wax. Then the image is etched into the plate using acid. Finally, a printer pushes ink by hand into the plate and wipes the surface clean. The press forces the paper into the plate to make the print. A visible plate edge shows that the image is embossed into the paper.

Etching is a slow process, a timeless medium. It hasn’t changed much since Rembrandt and Goya used it. But new artists use it in new ways, and we are continually surprised at what they do with it, gaining and giving insights into the world as it is now.

Learn More

Staff

  • Kathan Brown

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    Kathan Brown

    Founding Director

    Kathan Brown was born in New York City, grew up in Florida, earned a B.A. (with an English major) from Antioch College in Ohio, attended the London Central School of Arts and Crafts (two years), and later received an M.F.A. and an honorary doctorate from the California College of the Arts. She also holds an honorary doctorate from the San Francisco Art Institute.

    Kathan Brown, with her then-husband Jeryl Parker, founded Crown Point Press in 1962 in Richmond, California. In 1964 the couple parted and Kathan moved the press to the basement of her home in Berkeley. In 1964 she published a handmade book of her own etchings, and in 1965 followed it with three more books of etchings by artists she invited to work with her: Richard Diebenkorn, Beth Van Hoesen, and Wayne Thiebaud. She also held etching workshops open to all, and worked as a typist when funds were low. Between 1966 and 1974 she taught etching at the San Francisco Art Institute, eventually becoming head of the printmaking department.

    In 1971 New York print publisher Bob Feldman of Parasol Press sent artist Sol LeWitt to Crown Point for a project, and Crown Point moved later that year to a loft space in Oakland. In the 1970s, in addition to continuing to produce prints for Parasol, Crown Point Press published three books of Kathan’s own etchings, and four by San Francisco artists: Bruce Conner (two volumes), James Melchert, and Tom Marioni.

    Kathan Brown and Tom Marioni met in 1974 and married in 1983. Between 1975 and 1981 they created five issues of VISION, an unconventional art journal published by Crown Point Press and edited by Marioni. VISION’s most unconventional issue is Number 4, 1980, Word of Mouth, a set of phonograph records of short talks presented by artists who traveled under Crown Point’s auspices to an island in the Pacific Ocean for a conference.

    Kathan’s love of travel also influenced two programs the press instigated in the 1980s in which Crown Point artists traveled first to Japan, then to China, to work with traditional woodcut craftsmen in those countries. Aside from those projects, the press has always worked exclusively with the slow and antiquated process of etching.

    Kathan Brown’s writing includes several of her own books and also web materials and newsletters for the press. She has edited the Magical Secrets series of instructional books published by Crown Point, and has created video elements for those books and for the Crown Point websites. She has been shooting video in the Crown Point studio since the late 1970s.

    In 1977, the year the Crown Point price list begins, Kathan re-started Crown Point’s own print publishing program after having worked mainly for Parasol Press for six years. As in the press’s earliest days, she began with Richard Diebenkorn. In January, 1978, John Cage made his first etchings at Crown Point Press. Those two very different, inventive artists returned almost yearly to work at Crown Point. They set the tone for its etching publications over the following years.

    In 1986 Kathan moved Crown Point Press from Oakland to San Francisco and renovated an industrial loft space, but in fifteen seconds on October 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake devastated those quarters. A year later the press purchased the building it now occupies in San Francisco’s South of Market district. Crown Point Press has its gallery, bookstore, and workshop on the top floor, with the entrance at 20 Hawthorne Street, around the corner from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. (Click here for a more detailed version of Kathan Brown’s biography.)

  • Valerie Wade

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    Valerie Wade

    Director

    Valerie Wade is director of Crown Point Press and is a partner, with Kathan Brown, in the business. She was born in Springfield, Virginia, and received a BFA in art history and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, then studied art administration at American University in Washington D.C. From 1984 to 1987 she was with Szoke Koo Associates, a New York art consulting firm where she sold many Crown Point Press prints to businesses, architects, designers and private clients.

    In 1988 Valerie moved to San Francisco and began working at Crown Point Press as sales representative. In 1993 she became gallery director, and in 2006 assumed her current position as director. She oversees operations, especially sales activity, gallery exhibitions, and art fair participation, and also manages some of the press’s artist projects, including those of Ed Ruscha, Tomma Abts, Mary Heilmann, and Amy Sillman.

    In the San Francisco art community, Valerie is on the advisory board of the non-profit space Southern Exposure, and has participated in the leadership of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association and ArtTable. For the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art she has been a public-event panelist on “How to Start an Art Collection,” and for Southern Exposure on “Art Publishing Now.” She has juried print competitions for the Pacific Art League and the Berkeley Art Center. Valerie also has served on selection committees for the Chicago International Art Exposition and the San Francisco International Art Exposition. In her private life she enjoys hikes, yoga, and gardening on her deck at home in downtown San Francisco.

    valerie@crownpoint.com

  • Katharine Fulton-Peebles

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    Katharine Fulton-Peebles

    Gallery Associate

    Katharine Fulton-Peebles joined Crown Point Press in March 2016 as Gallery Associate. She works closely with Director Valerie Wade to manage the gallery, produce exhibitions and exhibition materials, engage visitors, and facilitate sales. She is responsible for the online and social media presentations of Crown Point Press, and she travels on behalf of the press to art fairs and other sales events.

    Katharine was born in Northern California, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Syracuse University, New York. She also completed a Master of Arts in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London, with a distinction for her master’s dissertation on the impact museums have on artists’ market values. Katharine is involved in the San Francisco arts community and is a member of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s SECA program. She spends her free time cooking, running, and tending her succulent garden with the occasional glass of California wine in hand.

    katharine@crownpoint.com

  • Stacie Scammell

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    Stacie Scammell

    Business Manager

    Stacie Scammell came to Crown Point Press in 1989 as Assistant to the Financial Director. Her first day of work was the Monday after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Right after the quake, she called to confirm that she still had a job, and was told “Yes! Wear jeans and tennis shoes because we are moving,” With aftershocks still occurring, she joined the rest of the staff in quickly moving furniture, prints, and supplies out of the damaged building that was then occupied by the press. Now she is business manager. She handles business matters and also manages human resources, building maintenance, and day-to-day office operations.

    Stacie was born and raised in the Bay Area and earned her BA from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She loves interior design and spends her free time making the world a more beautiful place, one room at a time.

    stacie@crownpoint.com

  • Mari Andrews

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    Mari Andrews

    Registrar

    Mari Andrews has been registrar/archivist at Crown Point Press since 1991. She came to Crown Point in 1990 as an apprentice printer, but soon switched to a role more related to her previous experience as a curator for many years at Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles. She had also worked as a registrar for artist Sam Francis in his printmaking studio.

    Mari is a practicing artist. She has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay Area, and overseas in Israel, England, and Japan. She received an NEA grant in 1989. She was born in Dayton, Ohio, and has earned a BFA from the University of Dayton and an MFA from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.

    mari@crownpoint.com

  • Sasha Baguskas

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    Sasha Baguskas

    Editor/Publications Manager

    Sasha Baguskas has been at Crown Point Press since 1995. As editor and publications coordinator, she manages the layout, design and production of Crown Point’s advertising, its newsletter (Overview), and catalogs and books published by the press. These include the four instructional books in the Magical Secrets series used in workshops and universities across the country. For three of the four books in the series, she was the photographer for the “step-by-step” sections. She oversees the Crown Point bookstore, and manages the Crown Point Press and Magical-Secrets websites.

    Sasha was born in Philadelphia and raised in New York. She moved to San Francisco in 1993 after receiving a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. In her spare time she takes photographs and is an at-home horticulturalist; she focuses on begonias, philodendra, and the white-grey-green euphorbia amak.

    sasha@crownpoint.com

  • Emily York

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    Emily York

    Senior Master Printer

    Senior Master Printer Emily York earned a BA in art with an emphasis in printmaking from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1999. While on a school field trip she visited Crown Point’s 35-year retrospective at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, and instantly knew she wanted to be a printer. In 2000 she began training as a printer at what is now Paulson Fontaine Press, a fine art etching press in Berkeley founded by Pam Paulson, a Crown Point master printer. In 2004 she began working at Crown Point Press and received the master printer title in 2005. She is the author of Magical Secrets about Aquatint, one of four volumes in Crown Point’s popular instructional series.

    Emily grew up in St. Helena, in California’s Napa Valley. She lives in Oakland with her husband and preschool-age daughter. In her free time she enjoys cooking and craft projects, making miniature paintings, and creating shadow puppets and sculptures of dragons and dinosaurs with her daughter.

    emily@crownpoint.com

  • Sam Carr-Prindle

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    Sam Carr-Prindle

    Master Printer

    Master Printer Sam Carr-Prindle joined the printing staff at Crown Point Press in 2015 after working as a printer for seven years at Paulson Fontaine Press (then Paulson Bott) in Berkeley with Crown Point master printers Pam Paulson and Renee Bott. He grew up in Santa Barbara and earned a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2007. While in school, he studied etching with Brian Shure and interned with Paul Mullowney, both Crown Point master printers.

    Sam became a Crown Point master printer in 2016. Alongside his work as a printer, he plays in a band, paints, and is part owner of a brewery in West Oakland.

    sam@crownpoint.com

  • Courtney Sennish

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    Courtney Sennish

    Printer

    Courtney Sennish is originally from Ohio. She interned at Crown Point Press while studying printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design with Crown Point Master Printer Brian Shure. In 2013, after receiving her BFA, she moved to San Francisco to work toward an MFA at the California College of the Arts and to further develop her own art. In this period, she also worked part time as a printer at Mullowney Printing with Crown Point Master Printer Paul Mullowney. Upon completion of her advanced degree in 2015 she began work as a printer at Crown Point Press. She continues to create paintings and sculpture in her own studio.

    Courtney lives in San Francisco where she plays beach volleyball on Sundays and enjoys cycling through Golden Gate Park.

    courtney@crownpoint.com

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