Tagged: ABC No Rio

ABC No Rio Print Shop in Exile, in Bushwick

ABC No Rio, a venerable arts and activism space in the Lower East Side, had been located in an abandoned tenement building at 156 Rivington Street since the early 1980s. In the 2000s, New York City sold the building and its land for a dollar on the condition that it renovate its building. Since then, the organization had raised funds and planned for a new building, designed by local architect Paul Castrucci.

In 2016, after its final art show, ABC No Rio left its space in 2016, and since then, the building has been demolished and the two-year construction project has yet to begin.

A photograph of the print shop at ABC No Rio’s building on Rivington Street.

Although I went to a screening that a friend produced around 2003, I became a regular user around 2008 when I started using the print shop to make shirts for my softball teams. The learning curve was steep and over the years, a lot of what I learned about printing shirts follows the DIY, punk-rock approach to printing than what most screen printers do. For example, I have almost never used a conveyer belt dryer because I print with water-based inks. I can hang the shirts on a line and allow them to air dry and cure with a trouser press.

My “technique” for drying water-based screen-printed inks.

When ABC No Rio closed, a lot of the activities stopped or relocated to other spaces. The all-ages Saturday matinee punk/hardcore shows appeared to have ceased, but the zine library moved down the street to the Clemente Soto Velez on Suffolk Street. About a year ago, the print shop opened a location in a basement on Evergreen Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. This is just a few miles from where I live—and not far from Megan’s apartment—in an area that resembles what the Lower East Side was like a generation ago.

Entering the new space is a bit more inviting than one at the old location. The Rivington Street location was a pretty intimidating. You’d first encounter a decrepit tenement building and would have to navigate up three flights of the creekyiest steps you’ve ever climbed. One friend who went with me remarked how he felt he was in an episode of Law and Order at the moment when someone discovers a dead body. The new space, on the other hand, is hard to miss from the street and has some inviting printed material.

Last night, I went to the space and found a lot of the old space had been imported to this new space. The light exposure unit from the old space was there, bearing the face of someone that looks like Iggy Pop. Also, because this print shop espouses the DIY ethos, books and bricks are used to press the artwork against the screen. Close observers who used the old space will recognize the Learning Windows NT 4 book and copies of the Manhattan Yellow Pages wrapped in packing tape.

Another familiar item was the the four-color press, which was seated among similar detritus that was a feature of the old space.

And since this is a print shop that runs on fees from users, they also printed shirts to sell.

Yes, I bought one.

I didn’t have anything to print or a screen to burn, but it was nice to say hi to the veteran volunteer Garry and a regular user, Hardcore Shawn, who has been learning from Garry and has embraced discharge printing as I have. There was, sadly, no sign of Ray or Soccoro, the other volunteers at the print shop. I will certainly be back when I do have something.

The ABC No Rio Print Shop in Exile is located at 519 Evergreen Avenue, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and is open Thursdays from 6:00–11:00 PM. Get the early and bring cash.

Proplyene Glycol and Neighburitto

Newtown Creek Yacht Club

This week’s job came at the last minute, on Sunday, for delivery on Sunday. But I’m leaving town tomorrow so tonight was the deadline, which is fine because that’s when Ray at ABC No Rio is working, and I don’t know if I can print without his help.

So here’s what I learned this time around:

  • UNIQLO in SoHo has really cheap shirts! But my first-world guilt makes me anxious to use them since they’re yet another overseas production operation and because when they sell shirts, they’re in a ridiculous amount of packing. Opening each t-shirt was like opening a pack of beef jerky. It’sokay,UNIQLO, the t-shirts won’t go bad. Also, short-sleeve t-shirts are seasonal for them so once the summer is over, it’s hard to get what you want.
  • We all know that printing with white, water-based ink can suck. It not only doesn’tcompletely cover your dark colors, but it also dries in the screen, which can significantly increase production time. Today, the ink I was using was good for exactly one test print. You know, the one you do on paperbefore you ruin a shirt. So in a desperation move, I mixed in some propylene glycol, or at least I think that’s what was in that bottle, as nearly a 1:5 ratio. Well I can report that despite the bad smell of my ink — does propylene glycol even smell — the ink didn’t dry. Normally, white ink leads to some very thick prints, but not today. Now, after nearly an hour of waiting for the ink to air dry, it’s coming out okay. I just hope that when I heat treat the shirts that theydon’t make me pass out from the fumes.
  • And I think my favorite burrito place, Neighburrito on Rivington Street might have closed for good. The gate was down at 7:30. Why?!?!?!

Burning Screens as easy as ABC No Rio

Social Text 100

Social Text turns 30 years old this year, and they have commissioned Sarah and myself to print their commemorative tshirts and tote bags. So far we’ve split the duties tonight. She and Lily and printing the tote bags and I have come to the Lower East Side to burn the screens for the t-shirts.

My job is usually really easy except that we have to adjust the size of the print for each shirt size. After toting around a bunch of screens on the subway, we are burning each screen. Pictured is one we did and it looks like it’s coming out fine.

Anyway this is going to be a long night, and I have an early morning class to teach tomorrow. Come to think about it I might take a taxi back to avoiding carrying around all those screens.