Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bromer Donation Makes Big Impression

Mary Flannery, David and Anne Bromer, and Kit Jenkins

As part of their ongoing philanthropic mission relating to art and the printed word, Anne and David Bromer have donated a working letterpress printshop to Lynn, Massachusetts-based RAW Art Works. In the first year since its unveiling, the printshop has welcomed nearly 335 students.

A young printmaker in the RAD Printshop

Now in its 28th year, RAW Art Works provides an environment where underserved youth from the area are encouraged to learn and grow through art and creativity. With a staff of art therapists and professional artists, the programs challenge their students “to change negative patterns while giving unrelenting support to reach what may seem unattainable.” For 25 years, RAW focused its attention on expression through combining language and the visual arts; in 1999, they introduced the medium of film and now annually screen films at the Peabody Essex Museum, as well as other film festivals regionally, nationally, and even internationally.

The opening reception unveiling the printshop

Anne and David, with John Kristensen, who co-created the printshop, at
one of the two Vandercook presses

Long-time supporters of the RAW mission, the Bromers felt that a letterpress printshop made sense to the organization’s already-established programs in the visual arts and film. According to Anne, they saw it as “the third leg of a tripod,” as a form of communication, self-expression, and a means of finding one’s self in the arts. Given their background as booksellers specializing in finely printed books, the letterpress angle had perfect synergy. “We decided we wanted to give kids access to the world of letterpress and to the book arts, a world that has given us so much joy and satisfaction in our lives.”

David and John Kristensen print a broadside

David proudly showing off his finished broadside,
with printshop co-creator and teaching artist Eli Epstein

It is the Bromers’ hope that the printshop, which has had a very positive impact on the RAW community, will become the anchor for an expansion into other areas of the book arts. Anne envisions “RAW kids making paper. I can see a book bindery. We can’t predict now what will come in the future, but I know it’s going to grow!” David agrees, adding that “very few kids have the experience that RAW’s kids now do. This new world has been opened for them.”