Founded in 1985, the Gallery is the greater DC metro area’s primary source for contemporary fine art prints, and has a membership of exceptional local and national printmakers. Every month Washington Printmakers Gallery has a group exhibit of members’ work and a solo show. The gallery also houses bins and flatfiles with prints and a limited collection of artist books and portfolios.
History of the Gallery
Collectives and Prints
The Washington Printmakers Gallery (WPG) was founded in Washington DC in 1985 by a group of local printmakers who had the vision and energy to put together a gallery. WPG is a testament to the power and vitality of printmaking as an artform. WPG is dedicated to the display and sale of its members’ artwork and to educating the public about the history and future of the original print. Since prints democratize art, making original work more accessible and affordable to the public, it seems fitting for the gallery to have a collective structure. While WPG has no social or political agenda, the co-op model makes gallery representation accessible to the printmaking community, offering support for artists’ careers as well as a platform for education about printmaking.
Washington Printmakers Gallery grew out of the work of the Washington Women’s Art Center, which served as a gallery and a meeting place for a group of printmakers who met monthly during the 1970’s and 80’s to critique their work, compare techniques, share resources, and host guest speakers in the art and print world.
As Carolyn Pomponio remembers, “A group of printmakers within WWAC would meet monthly, showing and critiquing their work, inviting artists outside the group to speak, and suggesting places we might exhibit…for example, the Democratic Women’s Counsel, the National Institutes of Health, several banks, universities and restaurants. But all through those several years, I kept hearing the refrain ‘why don’t we have our own printmakers gallery?’”
The work of establishing the gallery, from conception to actual opening, took two years. By May 1985, WPG’s 28 committed members had incorporated, established by-laws, signed a one-year lease, bought insurance, hung a sign, and opened the doors to their gallery on Jefferson Place, NW in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Two years later we lost our lease and moved to R Street, NW, an area with eight other art galleries nearby. Then the gallery moved to Connecticut Avenue, a location with wonderfully-heavy foot traffic. When that location became too expensive in the early 2000s, the gallery moved to Silver Spring, MD, partnering with Pyramid Atlantic, a paper-making, printmaking artists’ center. Then in 2014 we moved to Georgetown, Washington DC, a small, elegant space in a neighborhood of art galleries.
1997: 1st Annual National Small Works Juried Exhibition
2003: 1st Annual Invitational Solo Show
2005: 1st Young Printmakers Exhibit
2005: Formation of Washington Print Foundation, a sister non-profit organization that provides outreach funds for printmaking projects and events.
2007: Northern Ireland Printmaker Residency Program
WPG is a community of working artists who enjoy sharing discoveries, introducing the public to the rich processes of printmaking, mentoring new printmakers, honoring master printmakers, and actively engaging the future of printmaking.