The epic tale of the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse Printmaking Program. The Printmaking program is directed by Joel Elgin and features the odd collection of the many PrintFools who enroll, print and exist from semester to semester in the Shop of Tears.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mandy's question about Mike Houston

Mike Houston

24" x 18" Silkscreen
on Heavyweight White Paper
Signed and numbered on the front
Edition of 20

So Mandy, you asked about the story of Mike Houston; Hillbilly, Rock and Roll printmaker of CannonBall Press fame. Yes, I do claim Mike as one of my student types, his prints actually hang in my house. I had lost track of him until you found him and posted him on your blog. His past in the Dartmouth shop was simply a precursor to his present.

This is Mike.
For more go to:

This is a bit long and and possibly a little hard to believe but it will tie together a number of the Dartmouth print stories that you and all of your printmaking brothers and sisters have heard.

To begin you have to remember back to your first day of printmaking when you learned to cut copper on the shear. Recall how I told you of the poor woman at Yale who sadly had the sharp edge of a copper plate stuck deeply in her stomach, so deep that when she raised her hands and screamed the plate remained in place. The story of Mike Houston begins the weekend of this accident. I was, as you now remember, doing the workshop at Yale. The workshop ended early begins of the plate “plate in the gut” event so I returned early and stopped in the shop to unload my workshop supplies.

I opened the shop door to a horror show. Mike had organized a Hillbilly Hootenanny thinking I was gone for the whole weekend. The Hootenanny went terribly wrong. Mike was playing his guitar and screaming Woodie Guthrie songs at the top of his lungs. This was all new stuff to his Dartmouth brothers and sisters. Even newer was the trashcan filled with Mike’s Hillbillly liquor he secretly made in a "still" in the litho room (of course, I rarely went back there because litho is a waste of time). They were smashed, nearly blind drunk.

Immediately to my right, Evan Brown the 400 pound Canadian hammer thrower who visited our shop a few years back, was trying to cook pancakes on the hotplate, Rugby Dan Rush was fighting for hotplate space to cook California toast (he now produces movies in Hollywood and he used this scene recently). Poor Elizabeth O’Hara (her picture with the guitar (taken that day) is in our shop) was passed out on the couch. Jake Tapper, now a news anchor with NBC had just cut off the tip of part of his anatomy on the chain mechanism that ran the combo press (he wrote a play about it if you don’t believe me). My poor TA Tara was trying to clean up, as she always did, but she could not stand for long, she finally lay on the soft ground texture box she always kept filled. Even sadder, John Lee, (the faculty member in sculptor who visited us and had an exhibit in our gallery) who promised to look in on the shop during my absence was dancing on my Brand press with Michael Parks (who took the printmaking MFA from Texas Austin with a thesis combining exotic dance with intaglio). Mike had stopped singing and organized a collaborative offset -tushe’-stone litho body printing of Melanie the bull whip-wielding, world-class hockey player (I will eventually post some the resulting lithos as further proof). So Mike obviously hasn’t changed a bit. He has simply found a perfect outlet for his wild assed printmakerly ways.
What a role model for all of you he is.


Mandy said...

WOW...what a story Joel!!!! I knew you had to be involved with this nutter somehow. We were a bunch of pansies compared to those guys. What a small world. Now I have to meet this guy...and others like him!!!

Thanx for sharing the story.

Bec★ said...

J~ u have some big-assed stories! If only the little baby witches could have been so entertaining! :P haha! See u in a few weeks!

phantompanther said...

what is missing from this story is what you did in response to your shop being sloshed to ass-- or did you simply have some brew and stay to see how the party ended?? do tell

Nels said...

So, what's so strange bout this story. We do this all the time when you're not there!

Danielle said...

Now THAT produced a hilarious mental picture.

So Joel, I wrote you this epic email about my recent excursion to Portland and I got LOGGED OUT before it was sent. Cyberspace ate it and now I have muster the drive to do it again. Fuck-a-doodle-doo! It'll be good though.

Hey if anyone's got the radio on August 6th (sunday) from 11-midnight, tune into 95.7 the Rock-I just got a job there and that hour will be my very first time on the air. OOooOoh scary. Listen for Torch!

Lisa said...

Sounds like printmakers have all the fun! (or at least some printmakers are having a lot more fun) Perhaps it's not just the lithotine fumes which are luring us all into the print studio.

Anonymous said...

I think I would like to meet this guy, do you think he would ever come and visit us?

Evan said...

Joel, Man I forgot that story. Gets better every time I hear it. I miss printmaking, and I really should find my way back to it. I am out of Wisconin and in NYC now! Amazing eh? Never thought I would live here. Haven't chatted with you in a few years! Hope all is well. Certainly looks like the shop is alive and well...wonder if you still have that Canadian Bacon hanging by the door when you come in there in Lax?
Cheers! Evan (all 400lbs of him)., PS: LOVE the Irish prints! Haven't seen them until today.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hax said...

I want to hear more stories of past and present. These tales are wound in such magic, the vivid detail and shining shimmering splendor leave nothing to the imagination.

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