Artist Dan Welden poses with “Tony Baloney” and “Monk’s Yoga,” two mixed-media works from his show “Dan Welden: Solo 100,” which runs from Oct. 21 until Jan. 14, 2024 at Mitchell-Giddings.
Victoria Chertok/The Commons
Artist Dan Welden poses with “Tony Baloney” and “Monk’s Yoga,” two mixed-media works from his show “Dan Welden: Solo 100,” which runs from Oct. 21 until Jan. 14, 2024 at Mitchell-Giddings.

A printmaking pioneer marks his 100th show

‘Dan Welden: Solo 100’ celebrates collaboration and innovation from an artist whose career has spanned six decades

BRATTLEBORO — Dan Welden, master printmaker, painter, author, and educator, will exhibit his largest solo show to date - "Dan Welden: Solo 100" - of 15 paintings and works on canvas and paper at Mitchell-Giddings Fine Arts.

On Saturday, Oct. 21 - the show's opening day - the public is invited to the premier screening of a documentary film, Lasting Impressions: The Dan Welden Documentary, at 3:30 p.m., followed by an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m.

The film, directed by Welden's son, Carl Welden, is billed as "a love letter to the creator, his work, and his humanity." The film has already garnered praise from several of his contemporaries, including Kiki Smith, Eric Fischl, Alice Aycock, Helen Harrison, and Roy Nicholson.

The Commons caught up with Welden, 82, of Sag Harbor, New York, as he was unloading his paintings and hybrid prints at Mitchell-Giddings earlier this week for his 100th show.

"I love sharing the work!" Welden said when asked about the milestone and his largest and most prestigious show in New England.

Welden attributes the show's size and stature to his inclusion of work he made in collaboration with such artists as Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Kiki Smith, Eric Fischl, Dan Flavin, and others, which accounts for about a third of the show's offerings.

"Since the early 1980s, I began working with these artists in printmaking," Welden said. "I guess the first artist in this show was Elaine de Kooning, and later on I worked with her husband Willem and it grew from there."

The show also includes his paintings and his hybrid works.

Another milestone is that Welden served as master printer of what he calls the "masterworks" - original prints that have never been shown before.

These offerings include works by Roy Nicholson and Carol Hunt, two of Welden's best friends.

"My best friend Roy did some remarkable works," Welden said. "They are the blockbusters of this show."

A 60-year career

Welden has been making art for over 60 years. His creative curiosity and love of the printmaking process have made him a sought-after instructor.

"As a printmaker, I find 'line' becomes key to the work," he observed. "The tools may vary - crayon on stone, steel blades on wood, diamond-tipped power tools on glass, or a screwdriver on museum board - as I work and play."

"Printmaking is a creative process as opposed to a reproductive process," he said. "It puts another level of integrity into the work. I collaborated with these amazing people to facilitate their creativity."

"When you're doing posters or newspapers you push a button that says 'print,'" Welden added. "We don't do that: We sweat, sometimes bleed, sometimes [shed] tears. Whether I'm doing it with others or myself, there are always rewards."

When prints become one

"I think the most interesting of my works in this show are the Aesop's Fables series," Welden said of his works on paper, noting that these works came from "something I found at an old abandoned barn" at Hampton Bays Arts Group, an arts colony on Long Island that operated from the World War II era until the late 1960s.

There, he found "old zinc plates which were supposed to be used for etching and they sat for 50 years and they were oxidizing."

"I pried them apart with a screwdriver and saw what nature did," he said, and he used that natural damage to the plates in the creative process.

Welden said his passion for painting returned when the Covid lockdown took place. He says he had an "exuberant feeling that he had to paint." He uses mixed media: mostly acrylics, and occasionally traces of crayon, and even a ballpoint pen.

When asked what he means by "hybrid prints," he says, "They are independent of each other but they become one, where one starts and one ends, you can see texture in some of them."

Becoming an artist

Welden grew up in the Bronx and spent weekends and summers at his grandfather's place in Babylon, New York. He was not really a city kid so he loved spending time on Long Island.

He says he doesn't really know when he first envisioned himself as an artist. But he said his fifth-grade teacher, Augusta A. Hoffman, was a wonderful inspiration and encouraged him.

"She instructed the class to draw on newsprint and then, if it was good enough, you would get to use manila paper," he said.

After Welden's first drawing, he said, she told him directly that he would never have to use the newsprint first and gave him permission to "use the better-quality manila paper all the time."

"After high school, I wanted to be an architect," Welden said. "I was very good at that. I was very precise and exact."

After being rejected by all seven universities he applied to initially, his guidance counselor suggested he remain in high school for an additional year. He did, and he took chemistry, biology, and more art classes.

Eventually he got accepted to the Adelphi College Suffolk Division, a tiny satellite of the larger academic institution.

"The dean had empathy for me," Welden said. "He said, 'We'll put you in on probation.' I ran for the class president, as I could make better posters than anyone else. I started a fraternity, and I was very good at sports. I was a gymnast, played football, basketball, and was captain of the squash team."

In a 2012 interview posted at the Adelphi website, Welden credited a professor at the college, Albert Kelley, with encouraging him to pursue art as a career.

"One day Al Kelley suggested I create big paintings," Welden said in the interview. "He went out and bought me 33 yards of canvas so that I could make paintings 6½ by 7½ feet high. He provided me with the tools and support. He believed in me."

Welden's canvas paintings are very large and colorful. As described by the show's publicity materials, the artist "may enlist his endlessly meandering lines to define or corral expanding areas of color, as in Glimmering Myrtle or Tony Baloney. In the large mixed-media painting Northman, the boundary edges of a central, painted rectangle rupture in a frenzied rush of spilled release."

"With Hairy Hare, a unique etched and mixed media hybrid print, Welden the cartographer crisscrosses the textured topography of a nameless state on an east-west network of penciled and incised highways. He masterfully masses handfuls of fine, short, bent, hairlike marks in the appropriately titled solarplate etching Panda's Haircut, as though swept across a barber shop floor."

Welden graduated from Adelphi in 1964. He taught art in high schools while he pursued a master's degree in art there, which he earned in 1967.

From there, he studied at The Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany under teacher Kurt Lohwasser, "my mentor and my friend," Welden said in the Adelphi interview.

While under Lohwasser's wing, Welden said that his "interest in printmaking was piqued."

Pioneer in printmaking

An pioneer of polymer printmaking in 1971, Welden has been in the forefront of his field's creative and technical possibilities.

With his Solarplates (a name he coined as easier to understand than the word "photopolymer"), "I discovered sunlight and water could do just about everything I mastered with lithographic stones, copper plates, wood, and serigraphy," he said.

"Solarplates do not use acids, hazardous materials, and chemicals the other printmaking methods required," Welden explained. That appealed to him.

His friend and mentor Kurt Lohwasser "put it in my hands and told me to figure it out," he said - and the process of determining what to do and how to do it was what interested me the most."

The medium permits the creation of "high and deep surfaces," the artist observes.

Solarplates offer "multiple approaches," Welden said. "You can express yourself in many different ways on the plate: paint, draw, work on a piece of glass, and even photographically."

Welden marketed the plates and co-authored the book Printmaking in the Sun with Australian artist and scientist Pauline Muir. "The process revolutionized printmaking history," he said.

A worldwide teacher

Petria Mitchell, co-owner of Mitchell-Giddings Fine Arts, estimates that Welden has "taught thousands of artists in many countries, including working with indigenous peoples globally."

When not making art, Welden has traveled to every continent and has visited 54 countries so far. He plans to return to New Zealand, his favorite country, for the 11th time.

"This is such a distinct honor to exhibit Dan Welden's work," Mitchell said. "It's such a dream to be able to work with him."

The artist says he loves teaching, both one-to-one and in workshops of large groups. He continues to inspire artists, teachers, and students around the world in workshops where he demonstrates how to make Solarplates and printing both intaglio and relief plates.

Whatever the medium, the creative process is a constant.

"Being one with and allowing the ego to fade away and let the process dictate the ebb and flow of the hand," Welden noted, "is the climatic unveiling of the unknown."

* * *

Dan Welden's solo exhibition, "Dan Welden: Solo 100," opens at Mitchell-Giddings Fine Arts, 181–183 Main St., Brattleboro, on Saturday, Oct. 21 and runs until Jan. 14, 2024.

The debut of his documentary film, Lasting Impressions: The Dan Welden Documentary, takes place on Oct. 21 at 3:30 p.m., and an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. will allow attendees to meet the artist.

An artist talk and printmaking demonstration is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m.

For more information about the exhibit, visit

For more information about the artist, visit

This The Arts item by Victoria Chertok was written for The Commons.

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