WE MAY KNOW that the work we continue to put off doing will be bad. Worse, however, is the work we never do. A work that's finished is at least finished.

Fernando Pessoa
~ The Book of Disquite

Prints from Chiron Press

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Jeanne Mackin in Japanese

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Poleskie's wife, Jeanne Mackin, has had two of her mystery novels, written as Anna Maclean, published in Japan, with the third scheduled to appear sometime this year. The books are beautiful little things, only you have got to read them from back to front, that is if you can read Japanese.

40 Years Before The Photographs

More Poleskie Photographs

Where Is Stephen (Steve) Poleskie Now?


September 2, 2013

Tags: Chiron Press, Pop Art, Steve Poleskie, screen-printing

Here is a recent article from InsightsArt Education about Chiron Press

CHIRON PRESS —The 1960s Press That Gave Birth to Pop Art Prints

by Deb Ripley

From 1963 to 1968, Chiron Press was the ground-zero of the fledgling Pop Art scene. Founded in a tiny storefront on 614 East 11th Street in New York City, it was the first print atelier in New York City, indeed in the country, devoted to screen printing for artists. Andy Warhol (1928–1987), Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997), Larry Rivers (1923–2002), James Rosenquist (b.1933), and Claes Oldenburg (b.1929) were just a handful of the artists who made silkscreen prints at Chiron.

Chiron Press (named after the mythical centaur) was the brainchild of Steve Poleskie (b.1938), an artist who had worked for three months as a printer in Miami doing commercial screen printing jobs, a skill he picked up after reading a free booklet from the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company. In 1961, Poleskie moved to New York City and rented a studio on East 10th Street near Tompkins Square Park with the intention of furthering his art career. Since the 1950s, East 10th Street had been a hotbed of the downtown New York art scene. Abstract Expressionist painters such as Willem De Kooning (1904–1997), Franz Kline (1910–1962), and Milton Resnick (1917–2004) maintained studios nearby. The 10th Street Galleries—a series of artist-owned co-operative galleries, often run with no staff and very little money—formed a nucleus of alternative and avant-garde art spaces. The Judson Memorial Church, located on Washington Square South near East 8th Street, operated a gallery that debuted works by Tom Wesselmann (1931–2004), Jim Dine (b.1935), and Oldenburg in 1959.

Living on East 10th Street, Poleskie got to know many of the scene-makers of the day. He befriended Raphael Soyer (American, 1899–1987) while taking an art class at the New School. He also met Leo Castelli, a gallery owner who first featured many of the up-and-coming Pop artists.

After fielding numerous questions from fellow artists about his techniques and methods, Poleskie realized that screen printing was in high demand, and in 1963, he opened a shop (initially called Aardvark Press) at 614 East 11th Street and became the master printer. He also hired future renowned Minimalist artist Brice Marden (b.1938) as his studio assistant. Within a short period of time, Poleskie was inundated with job requests. It seemed he was the only person around who not only knew how to make screen prints but, more importantly, could communicate with artists to translate their vision into a print. Since screen printing was, at that time, mainly used for commercial ventures such as billboard advertising, Poleskie’s artistic background and connections proved to be invaluable assets.

The very first set of prints made at Chiron Press was a suite of four by Alfred Jensen (1903–1981), an abstract artist who painted in grids of brightly colored triangles or squares, often incorporating systems of numbers into his work. Poleskie recalls that Jensen lived next door to the studio, and he could often hear the artist begging his dealer Martha Jackson to send him money. In the end, Jensen paid for the prints himself—the bill for the whole job was US$400.

With a long waiting list of galleries wanting their artists to do silkscreen prints, Poleskie was able to move the operation to 76 Jefferson Street on the Lower East Side. Because of its low rent and good light, 76 Jefferson Street became a magnet for artists such as Neil Jenney (b.1945), Janet Fish (b.1938), Valerie Jaudon (b.1945), and Richard Kalina (b.1946). In 1975, the MoMA mounted an exhibition called 76 Jefferson Street, a title that testified to the location’s importance as a center for artistic activity.

In the early years, Chiron Press had no fancy equipment. Poleskie used a handmade wooden table to make the prints, and clotheslines in lieu of drying racks. His only ventilation was an open window, and if he needed to use the phone, he had to go to the bar downstairs where the bartender would take messages. Though it became common practice in screen printing for artists to paint on clear acetate and then transfer the images photographically, Poleskie preferred to use real silk to support the stencils, which were all hand-cut, and to squeegee the prints by hand. The process was time consuming, but produced results in the brilliant, saturated colors that were so emblematic of the early 1960s, and which became the hallmark of Chiron Press prints.

Chiron Press printed Lichtenstein’s very first screen print, Brushstroke, in 1965. The artist was working on a series of brushstroke paintings as a satirical response to the emotionally laden gestural paintings of Abstract Expressionism. But Lichtenstein was also interested in drawing a picture of a brushstroke that looked as though it had been rendered by a commercial artist. Since screen printing was a commercial process never intended for Fine Art, Brushstroke was a perfect graphic expression for Lichtenstein.

Warhol worked with Chiron Press on two occasions to make sculptural prints, which bore a resemblance to Oldenburg’s large soft sculptures of the period. The first, Paris Review (1967), was an enormous liquor bill, measuring 37x27 inches, with die-cut holes to resemble punched receipt holes. The other, Lincoln Center Ticket (1967), was an enormous ticket stub measuring 45x24 inches printed on opaque acrylic, and was published by the Leo Castelli gallery to commemorate the fifth New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center.

Chiron Press also worked with many female artists, including Marisol (b. 1930), Elaine DeKooning (1919–1989), and Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011).

Pop Art was not the only focus of Chiron—in fact, the prints created there track the divergent artistic movements of the time. Nicholas Krushenick (1929–1999) made hard-edged abstract paintings with a Pop sensibility. His brilliantly colored silkscreen James Bond Meets Pussy Galore, made at Chiron in 1965, demonstrates a highly original vision.

Poleskie’s own prints, created at Chiron during 1967, were abstract and geometric meditations on landscapes. He has remarked that living in a crowded city such as Manhattan meant that he could only imagine the landscape, saying, “I lived in the city and thus could not see the land, but it was there—in the advertisements, behind the cars, the soda pop, [and] the cigarettes.”

In 1968, Poleskie sold Chiron Press so that he could devote more time to his own artwork. He moved to Ithaca, NY, and accepted a teaching position in the art department at Cornell University, where he is now professor emeritus.

Despite its brief five-year run, Chiron Press was responsible for a major shift in how artists used screen printing in their creative processes. Screen printing has risen from an industrial process to a Fine Art form. The sheer number of influential artists who made prints at Chiron Press reads like a who's-who of the 1960s art world, and many of those artists would go on to achieve art superstar status.

Artnet Auctions will be hosting a special auction of prints from Chiron Press and its founder, Steve Poleskie, from October 15 through 24, 2013.

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Selected Works

A personal essay about his work that Poleskie wrote for an interview in a 2012 issue of Editions Bibliotekos
Essays that appeared in several journals and anthologies during the 1980s, including: Leonardo in the USA, Dars in Italy, and Himmelsschreiber in Germany
When his father dies, fading rock star John Foozler returns home, with his wife and son, to take care of his mother and run the family golf driving range. After a few months John’s mother dies, followed shortly by his wife. When his son leaves to join the Marine Corps, and with nothing to keep him in Eastlake, except a few now married old girlfriends, John decides to leave town and follow a dream his father had for him of becoming a professional golfer.
A National Guard corporal returned from deployment in the Middle East and suffering from undiagnosed PTSD descides to murder a man who he believe raped his wife thirteen years ago, and may be the father of his daughter.
A well-known American stunt pilot, and university professor, meets a strange old man named Caliban who tells him the story of his twin brother who as a young boy flew with Charles Lindbergh as his secret copilot on his famous solo trans-Atlantic flight.
Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe (1823−1913) was called by Carl Sandburg "the most shot-at man of the Civil War."
An unemployed actor answers an ad for a rent-free apartment and finds himself involved in a bizarre scheme to rig an election.
Novella and Stories
An AWOL soldier returns to the world after thirty-three years of hiding in his mother’s attic. An immigrant plumber bribes a policeman with a loaf of bread. And a plastic garbage bag flies around the sky looking for a new beginning, in these three out of the ordinary tales of living in America.
Selected Short Stories
A short story that appeared in the collection Acorn's Card, and on the blog Writing the Polish Diaspora
A short story that appeared in the collection Acorn's Card, 2011 and on Goodreads
A short story that appeared in the anthology The Book of Love, published by W. W. Norton, 1998 and in the collection Grater Life, 2009
A short story published in a shorter version in the 1995-6 issue of the magazine American Writing
A story published in the Spring 1996 issue of the west coast magazine Pangolin Papers and also in the collection Grater Life, 2009
This story appeared in the Spring 2009 print issue of SN Review
This story appeared in Essays & Fictions, Summer 2010, and in Fiction Daily
A short story that appeared in SATIRE magazine in 1997 under the title TGV
A story that appeared in Imago, the Australian literary magazine in October, 2001
A short story published in the Sulphur River Literary Review, Austin, TX
A short story in the Print Annual of Many Mountains Moving, a Literary Journal, 2008-9, nominated for a Pushcart Prize
A short story published in WordWrights!, a literary magazine from Washington, D. C. under the title For Eisenstaedt Spontaneously
Novel in Stories
A collection of short stories, interwoven into a dialog between a volunteer hospital visitor and a patient afflicted with AIDS.

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