Meet my dude from the way back machine, Ryan O'Malley. He, along with his partner-in-crime Joseph Valasquez, are on a roll. Literally. They've set out to blow minds with the complexities of a simple thing; Put a mark to anything that holds a mark. Novel idea. From there it gets even simpler; An old craft made new by showing it to a new audience. A tried and true method of rejuvenating things. All pretty simple so far, right? Okay, so like any endeavor—from art to corporate—one of the first and main thoughts is "where's your location?", because you need a base of operations, a theater by which to put on your show, right? That's where we take a left turn… and a few right turns too.
Ryan and Joe are an artistic duo touring the country in an Honda Element van, staying with friends, sleeping on couches and floors (maybe the occasional hotel room), going to schools, universities, youth groups… all in the name of teaching the ages-old crafts of wood carving and wood-cut printing to anyone who cares to listen, learn or be inspired. But there are a few cool twists to the story. They are housed, clothed and fed by the patronage of the people, schools and organizations who sponsor them and the pedaling of their work. Their work? While some schools may have printing tools and facilities not all can possibly be set up as classroom environments. So how do they do teach or do this work by which they eat? I did mention the Honda Element van, right? Welcome to "Drive-By Press".
I get a message from Ryan, who's an old college friend, that he's going to be coming thru town and giving a teaching demonstration at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. I'm for sure going to stop by, by but I was in no way prepared for what I saw…
Mounted in the belly of the van is an old school printing press. You know, the kind where "press" actually got it's name from? Yes, mounted on a track system to allow it to extend from the van into open working space, hangs a block printing press. Whoa. Consider my mind blown, but it gets better. On the side of the van, the inking station is set up to apply ink to the blocks that will be used for printing on materials. Blocks? Oh yeah, further to the side are a growing range of 25+ wood-cut blocks that these fine artists have cut and carved by hand! Boom! (that was my head… again)
But then comes my very own personal demo of how this all works. In a matter of mere minutes Ryan instructs me to pick a block or two and a t-shirt color that I like and a most delightful symphony of gritty, dirty, artistic movement is set in motion. about 7 total minutes later I have an exclusive, one-of-a-kind, hand-made work of art. I don't dare call it a "t-shirt". Remember, this all happened in 7 min. in the back of a van! There are a lot of things I could do in 7 min. in the back of a van, all of which I doubt would produce art or have a lasting positive effect such as this. Peep the process:
There's so much more to the story that I could tell, but that's actually part of their gig so I'll let them tell you all about it. The next stop for them was Chicago and then points unknown. If you want to know more, the guys would be glad to hear from you. Drop then a line or an email and prepare for the Drive By!
Joseph Velasquez | 254.228.6016