Making Art with an Asphalt Roller

Texas printmakers converge on the Saint Arnold brewery this Sunday to make large-scale ink prints. And the public's invited.

By Elise Rambaud Marrion April 24, 2014

Last year's Rockin' Rollin' event

Rockin' Rollin' Prints 2014
April 27 9–5
Saint Arnold Brewing Company
2000 Lyons Ave. 

Few artists would willingly leave their work in the path of a two-ton asphalt roller, but more than 75 Texas printmakers are eager to take that risk this weekend.

PrintMatters Houston will hold its fourth annual Rockin’ Rollin’ Prints on Sunday, April 27, in the parking lot of the Saint Arnold brewery. The day-long event offers artists the rare chance to create large-scale ink prints using a Sunbelt dual-drum, ride-on asphalt roller. 

For months, participants have hand-carved intricate designs into oversized wood or MDF blocks, some up to 3 by 5 feet. At the event, a team of volunteers will ink the boards, lay paper on top, brace and cushion the artwork with plywood and carpet padding, and drive over the whole setup with the asphalt roller. You can see the entire process in this video of last year’s event. 

“There are only a few facilities in Texas able to print something that big,” said Cathie Kayser, president of PrintMatters. “Most artists would either have to print everything by hand or pay quite a bit of money to make a large-scale print in a studio.” 

Last year's Rockin' Rollin' event

The non-juried, non-competitive event was open to any artist who met the registration deadline in March. Kayser said participants include locals active in the printmaking scene, student groups from Houston Community College, University of Houston, Houston Baptist University, and HSPVA, and other groups from Austin, Fort Worth, and Kingsville. An exhibition of the prints will open on Friday, June 6 at Gallery M Squared.

“We started Rockin’ Rollin’ Prints because we wanted to do something fun with the public to educate them about the art of printmaking.” Kayser said. “People are attracted to this art form because it’s very process oriented, but there is the element of the unexpected. You never know what is going to happen when you lift that paper to see the end product.” 

"Baron Samidi" by Junanne Peck

Though printmaking dates back to the earliest cave paintings, Kayser said she has noticed a resurgence of interest among DIY enthusiasts and graphic artists taking a detour from digital media. “Young people are on their phones, computers, and tablets all the time, but they are coming to printmaking because it is an anti-technology—a way to get their hands back into creating art in its most elemental form.” 

Rockin’ Rollin’ Prints will be held concurrently with another printmaking event inside the Saint Arnold Beer Hall. Burning Bones Press’s It Came From the Bayou III is the culmination of a three-day printing workshop and showcase of original prints for sale by prominent printmakers from across the country. 

Starting at 10 a.m., spectators are welcome to watch the Rockin’ Rollin’ printing process for free and partake in the brewery’s bounty of beverages. Saint Arnold will sell commemorative glasses for $10, which comes with a pint of beer. The events are free and open to the public, and tickets will not be required for entry into the brewery. Food will not be served.  

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