A Personal Message to Friends of Crown Point Press from Kathan Brown
With sadness I write remembering artist Robert Bechtle who died on September 24, 2020, at the age of eighty-eight.
Sixty years ago, Bechtle lived a few blocks away from me in Berkeley. I was a member of the California Society of Etchers, and he belonged to the Bay Printmakers, a lithography group. In the mid-1960s, the two merged to become the California Society of Printmakers. I first met Bob at meetings of that organization.
Early in the sixties, I set up an etching press in the basement of my house. I held workshops there, and in 1963 and 1964 worked with artists Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud, and Beth van Hoesen, who, at my invitation, created limited edition artists’ books published by the new Crown Point Press.
In 1967 I invited Bechtle to participate in my artists’ books project, and he started work on something he named The Alameda Book. However, he gave up after making four plates, which we did not (at the time) edition. He had a lithography press in his garage, he said, and he thought lithography was a better print medium for him than etching.
The 1967 plates remained in storage until 2011. By then, Bechtle had been working regularly in the Crown Point Press studio for 29 years. We printed and published the four plates from the sixties in editions of twenty-five each. He said he couldn’t figure out why he had not released them when he had made them. “I guess, back then, we wanted everything to be brand new and terrific,” I quoted him as saying.
Over the years, Bechtle created at Crown Point Press nineteen etchings (printed in editions), and thirty-seven monotypes. He also made two watercolor woodcuts in China in a program in which our artists worked with craftsmen there.
All of us who knew Bob will miss him greatly. To his wife, Whitney, and his daughter Anne and son Max, I send my deepest condolences, along with those of my husband, Tom Marioni and our staff members at Crown Point Press.
October 6, 2020