The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 3, 2013

410's Black Water Press opens first class today

By Tanner Kent

---- — MANKATO — Getting a community-supported printmaking center off the ground isn't easy — especially for an all-volunteer operation like the 410 Project art gallery in Mankato.

But that hasn't dissuaded director Dana Sikkila from pursuing her long-held vision anyway.

"There aren't many places in town that teach printmaking and its processes," said Sikkila, herself a printmaker who has exhibited in several galleries around the region and state. "I wanted to provide that space."

She started by submitting a grant request to the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council, which provides funding opportunities for artists and organizations in a nine-county region in south-central Minnesota. She received that grant earlier this summer, which allowed the 410 to stock its press with expendable materials such as paper, printing chemicals, ink and cleaning supplies.

The 410 procured a flat file for storing prints from the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota and volunteers built a light table. Sikkila said the gallery nearly exhausted its meager operating budget purchasing equipment and will need to start a fundraising campaign on the popular crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter later this month to cover the final equipment and material expenditures.

All the classes at the so-named Black Water Press will be free, and Sikkila said artists of all backgrounds and ability levels are welcome.

"We're open to everyone," she said.

Classes at Black Water Press begin today. Advance registration is required and only the first six registrants will be accepted.

The opening class includes primers on such techniques as silkscree monotype, chine colle and stenciling, and will be taught by RBA Public Charter School art instructor Allison Roberts. The class includes four sessions: 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday (demo day), 2-6 p.m. on Saturday (work day), 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 8 (work day) and 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 10 (finish and discussion).

The next class will be held Oct. 17-24.

Sign up at the gallery, 523 S. Front St. For more info or a complete schedule of classes, visit