Punk, Prints and Poltergeists at Copper Palate Press
“Part of screen printing is paying respect to the past,” says Tyler James Densley, a key component to the printing co-operative at Copper Palate Press. He is working alongside artist and Halloween enthusiast Robin Banks and the other members of Copper Palate Press (founder Cameron Bentley, and artists Steven Taylor, Jacob Lara, John Raftery, Dave Boogert and Clyde Ashby) to nourish and expand the roots of the subcultural artistic milieu in Salt Lake City. They continue to pass the screen printing torch to the next generations of artists, with an emphasis on community engagement and accessibility for all.
Copper Palate has represented a bridge between the artists and their art for almost 14 years, with screen printers teaching others who are eager to learn the fundamentals of screen printing. “Accessibility isn’t just a pilar of Copper Palate, but it’s built into screen printing, especially in America. That’s always been the thing behind it—everyone should be able to make art, afford art and distribute it as much as they can,” says Banks.
“Accessibility isn’t just a pilar of Copper Palate, but it’s built into screen printing, especially in America.”
The co-operative has been running since 2009, after Bentley scrounged together to purchase a printing press from artist Chadwick Tolley and revived an old space in the heart of a Downtown area that was once the mecca of SLC’s punk scene. The location shares a block with now-extinct venues like The Moroccan Lounge, which cultivated community among the rebellious Salt Lakers that engaged in fringe activities like getting tattoos and dancing. Presently, Salt Lake’s Downtown is becoming unrecognizable with an influx of urban expansion, gentrification and Californians. “The problem is here,” Densely says, “You leave for a minute and when you come back, where your temple was, this little sacred space might be a high-rise.” Centering Copper Palate as a space for artists to congregate, teach and create saves a little slice of what is uniquely SLC, despite its changing exteriors.
“As people who were welcomed and just needed a place to print and a place to put on punk shows, [Copper Palate] were there and helped foster that. Now we’re doing the same, which is so important to Salt Lake’s culture. We’re still passing it on,” Densley adds. Putting on workshops, classes and exhibitions collectively run by the artists who work out of it, the team regularly hosts local organizations and various anarchist propagandists wanting to spread their messages through art. “There have been a lot of hands that have never printed before that have been taught how to use that medium,” Banks says.
Constantly buzzing with events and gallery shows, on Oct. 21, Copper Palate is featuring an event hosted by Banks, Spooky Ago-Go, aimed at reviving the retro, weird and gimmicky aspect of Halloween that many of us (me) get way too excited about the second September ends. “The whole show is a celebration of pre-code horror comics, ’60s kitsch and youth cultures like garage rock, go-go, soul, novelty records, merchandise, cartoons, and punk rock,” Banks says. “I like things rough around the edges, with a heaping dose of manic macabre.”
“As people who were welcomed and just needed a place to print and a place to put on punk shows, [Copper Palate] were there and helped foster that.”
The event will feature paintings, screen prints, wax figures, ouija boards and live printing on blank t-shirts, which patrons are encouraged to bring to the show. Live music will be provided by local DJs Nix Beat, DJ Retrograde, Yéx-Yéx, Bucky Hold and Elmer Preslee, as well as sets by bands Musor and Milk Money, who will be performing covers of the Misfits. Attendees should arrive in costume and be ready to conjure Halloween spirits from beyond the veil starting at 7 p.m., until … well, whenever everyone goes back to their respective dwelling spaces.
If you’re looking to get involved with Copper Palate Press, the best course of action is to “just stop by.” Copper Palate doesn’t have hours, which is intentional to maintain the openness of the communal space. Follow the crew on Instagram @copperpalatepress for more events, features and the coolness of SLC’s creative counterculture.
Read more about screen printing:
The Boldblood Collective: DIY Advocates and Screen-Printing Wizards Putting SLC On The Map
After Hours With The Spilt Ink Crew
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