Weekly Update – Cannonball rolls in to Space 1026

[This week’s Weekly has my Q&A with Mike Houston and Martin Mazorra of Cannonball Press, whose exhibition opens at Space 1026 on Friday, July 7. Here’s the link to the art page and below is the copy with pictures. And at the bottom is the a-list copy on the free t-shirt printing event taking place Saturday, July 8. Note: Part 2 of the interview (which did not appear in the Weekly for reasons of space, appears in the next post. And I recommend you click on the pictures and then click the “all sizes” button to see the prints properly. The level of detail is phenomenal and the small sizes don’t do it justice.)]

It’s a Draw

Cannonball Press brings affordable prints to Space 1026.

Mike Houston

Mike Houston, “Big Ass Cardboard Goat” 4′ x 8′ Woodcut on Heavyweight Canvas Banner

Martin Mazorra
and Michael Houston, printmakers and founders of Brooklyn’s Cannonball Press, roll in this Friday for a one-month exhibit at Space 1026. Their affordable black-and-white prints ($20 at an exhibition, $25 at their website) are beauties, and I wanted to know more. Are they nuts to sell their art so cheaply, or are they visionaries on a democratic mission?


Why did you set up Cannonball?

MM: “Mike and I started Cannonball Press about six years ago to produce artwork that our friends could afford.”

MH: “We both come from DIY backgrounds and wanted to do something that involved artists we respect a lot.”


Tell me about your philosophy.

MH: “Inclusiveness and cooperation always get you further than elitism and exclusionism. By this age, I better have figured that one out. We think it’s ridiculous that art is so costly. We understand fully why it is, but still think it’s ridiculous. Printmaking has the capacity to be the people’s medium—the democratic art. We believe in this strongly and are just thrilled that so many different people are able to afford what we make.”

Martin Mazorra and Mike Houston

Mazorra and Houston, derby banner. This and the other big canvas banners remind me of human-centric, urban-worker-oriented prints by Peter Gourfain who showed at Projects Gallery last year. Here’s two posts about Gourfain’s show.

Why black-and-white only?

MH: “There are a ton of people doing beautiful multicolored silkscreens out there, but very few doing affordable black-and-white to the degree we do. We wanted to do something simple, and do the hell out of it.”

How do you select the artists you work with?

MH: “We’re constantly on the lookout for good artists—on the Web, at shows, under rocks in the creek, in the Tennessee caves.”

MM: “The deal with our artists is: We solicit the artwork. 18 by 24 inches is the C-ball standard. Folks that can, cut their own blocks. The silkscreen positives are drawn by the artists; we provide the paper and printing. The artist gets some prints and we keep editions to sell. The money from the sales goes back into the publishing pool. The artists can sell their prints for whatever.”

Martin Mazorra

Martin Mazorra, betting

So are you a nonprofit or seat-of-the-pants entrepreneurs?

MH: “Seat-of-the-pants DIY, and no plan to change—just de facto nonprofit, as in, we ain’t making any money.”

Where did you and Martin meet?

MH: “I’m from Chapel Hill, N.C. Martin’s from Morgantown, W.V. We met in 1993 at a summer art residency. We’re both 34.”

Do you have a day job in addition to Cannonball?

MH: “I work in a cabinet shop—I’m a woodworker. Martin teaches printmaking at Parsons.”

Does Cannonball have an exhibition space?

Martin Mazorra

Martin Mazorra, Untitled, 4′ x 8′ woodcut on canvas.

MH: “No, it’s just a working studio, but we take the whole shebang on the road to a bunch of gallery shows a year. We have a 500-square-foot space on the sixth floor (which we share with the eminent printmaker and occasional collaborator Dennis McNett) in a working industrial building near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Our building has a lot of Russian cabinetmakers, a bunch of seamstress sweatshops and one stinky fish distributor in it.”

>>Cannonball Press: Hang ‘em High, July 7-30. Opening reception, Friday, July 7, 7-11 pm. Free t-shirt printing, Saturday, July 8, 1-3 pm. Space 1026, 1026 Arch St., 2nd floor. 215.574.7630


[Here’s my a-list piece on the free t-shirt printing event this Saturday.]

The Shirt off Yer Back

Sat., July 8, 1-3pm. Free. Space 1026, 1026 Arch St., second fl. 215.574.7630.

Martin Mazorra and Mike Houston

Mazorra and Houston, banner print

Cannonball Press, aka Martin Mazorra and Mike Houston, storms into Space 1026 this Friday with an exhibit of raucous black-and-white prints. Cannonball’s known for its affordable limited-edition prints—$20 each in person, $25 online—and Saturday’s Shirt off Yer Back T-shirt printing event is beyond affordable; it’s free. You bring the shirt (no stinky shirts, please, request the organizers), and Cannonball (and some of the formidable printers of Space 1026) will provide the art, the ink and the printing power. Houston and Mazorra—artists as well as print publishers—will print on their vintage 1938 Vandercook letterpress, and 1026ers will screenprint. Free iced coffee and music will flow. This is the first free T-shirt-printing event at 1026, but C-ball has some experience and is open to printing on whatever people decide to bring. “We’ve silkscreened furry toilet seat covers before,” says Houston.