The Buffalo Print Club (1931-1962) with guidance from Kevin B. O’Callahan (American, 1902-1977), many of Buffalo’s finest printmakers came together to form the Buffalo Print Club in 1931. With a mutual enthusiasm for printmaking, they decided to band together to share ideas, expertise and equipment. They were offered quarters in the basement of the Albright Art Gallery which had formerly held the Art Students League (1902). There they set up presses and work tables and met on evenings twice a week. The Buffalo Print Club played an important role in the community. Its advocacy of printmaking stimulated national recognition through exhibitions and the placement of prints in public and private collections.
The major force behind the organization was Kevin B. O’Callahan, who served as President from the Club’s beginnings until 1952 or 1953. Other prominent members who held administrative roles were William J. Schwanekamp (President from 1953), Jean MacKay (later Mrs. John W. Henrich, Jr.), Niels Yde Andersen, John "Jack" Stewart and Ruth C. Percival. The artist group later enticed print collectors and other lay people to join their ranks. Over the years, the Buffalo Print Club served as a social group which met to promote serious study, “learning the print processes and developing the artistry of the printmaker.”
Although the Buffalo Print Club is largely forgotten in the annals of art, in its time it was prestigious enough to draw the attention of the print curators of the Library of Congress. They purchased works by Buffalo Print Club members through the renowned Pennell Fund, named after American printmaker Joseph Pennell (1857-1926). More prints were acquired through the Library of Congress subscription club fund and other sources.
The Buffalo Print Club paralleled some of the print clubs previously established in other parts of the country. Only a few had been started prior to 1931. They were located in major American cities including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cincinnati, Brooklyn, Cleveland and San Francisco. According to interviews with surviving members, the Buffalo Print Club had a camaraderie typical of collective artists’ studios. It predated similar federally funded arts projects that would be established later in the 1930’s, particularly those that were oriented toward printmakers. The Buffalo Print Club served regional artists, but also made Buffalo a key city for national and international activities in the graphic arts.
Changes in fashion and critical tastes played a role in the decline of the Buffalo Print Club. Members were talented draughtsmen, but for the most part they followed conventional techniques, and their subjects were representational. Another factor in the Club’s decline was the move out of the Albright Art Gallery into Kevin O’Callahan’s home at 620 Niagara Street around 1940. A certain professionalism seemed to be lost, and fewer members came less regularly. Their numbers continued to diminish, and, in Catherine Catanzaro Koenig’s opinion, the Club started to break up around 1949. William Schwanekamp became president in 1953 and the most devoted members continued to work sporadically. Once O’Callahan lost his enthusiasm for creative printmaking, following his mother’s death in 1962, the Buffalo Print Club ceased to exist. Their prints remain as reminders of a vibrant chapter in Buffalo’s history.
Prominent Buffalo Print Club Members
There was never a large membership in the Buffalo Print Club. At its peak in 1943 there were only 21 active members. Of all the Buffalo Print Club members, there were only three artists who truly stood out above the rest in the field of printmaking. Among all the members, Kevin O’Callahan (1902-1977) was perhaps the finest printmaker. O’Callahan initiated leadership for printmakers in the Buffalo area—those artists who, up to this time, struggled to gain equal recognition with painters and sculptors. O’Callahan single-handedly created the Buffalo Print Club and remained its driving force for more than twenty years. Under his direction, the Club developed its mission: to share expertise with colleagues, to have a place to fraternize and discuss ideas, and to make mutual use of a printmaking studio with its presses, chemicals and equipment.
”Good craftsmanship is a much neglected phase of all art today. Too many artists do not take the time to learn their trade.” -Kevin B. O’Callahan
The two other prominent artists that stood out in the club with their dedication to their craft were: Master draughtsman, Niels Yde Andersen (Danish-American, 1888-1952) known for his etchings and often referred to as the most artistic of the printmakers, and William J. Schwanekamp (1893-1970) who is best known for his Buffalo Alley series.
Past Members of the Buffalo Print Club
(Note: Names in red will link you to each artist's page when clicked and show any biographical information and/or available works by that artist.)
Niels Yde Andersen (Danish-American, 1888-1952)
Robert Noel Blair (American, 1912-2003)
Alfred Henry Briggs (American, 1898-1981)
Nicholas G. Chaltas (American, 1910-1998)
Joseph Cleary (American, 20th C.-)
Jean V. MacKay Henrich (Canadian-American, 1909-2002)
Margaret Sturm Heyn (Unknown,-)
Alice L. Gershel Hunt (American, 1918-1996)
Rixford Upham Jennings (American, 1906-1996)
Gertrude Jones (Unknown,-)
Catherine Catanzaro Koenig (American, 1921-2004)
James Koenig (American, 1925-1998)
Cooper Nott Lansing (American, 1910-)
Margaret Hunt Lansing (American, 1914-)
Lucille Liston (Unknown,-)
James V. McWhirter (Unknown,-)
Carlo Nisita (Italian-American, 1895-1990)
Kevin B. O’Callahan (American, 1902-1977)
Harold LeRoy Olmsted (American, 1886-1972)
Ruth Carolyn Percival (American, 1899-1989)
Elinor D. Plumley (American, 1906-1992)
Dr. Julius Richter (American, 1876-1974)
Francesco "Frank" Romanelli (American, 1909-1974)
Lewis W. Rubenstein (American, 1908-1989)
William J. Schwanekamp (American, 1893-1970)
John "Jack" Stewart (Scottish-American, 20th C.-)
Mary Stewart (American, 20th C.-)
Buffalo Print Club Exhibitions:
1931- The Buffalo Print Club is founded by Kevin B. O'Callahan (American, 1902-1977) and other prominent Buffalo printmakers, in the basement of the Albright Art Gallery (now the Albright Knox Art Gallery), which formerly held the Art Students’ League (1902), Buffalo, NY.
circa 1932-c1962- Annual exhibitions at the Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
1936- “First National Print Show of the Buffalo Print Club”, 670 different types of prints were shown by 128 exhibitors, Buffalo Print Club members and national printmakers were shown in six galleries, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
1937- Etchings & woodcuts exhibit by members, Coffee Room Gallery, William Hengerer Company, Buffalo, NY.
1938- The “Second National Print Show of the Buffalo Print Club”, 118 artists showed 259 prints in three galleries, 30 contributions by ten Buffalo Print Club members were included, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
1940- The “Third National Print Show of the Buffalo Print Club”, 227 prints by 124 artists, 21 by members of the Club, were shown in two galleries, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
circa 1940- The Club moved from the Albright Art Gallery basement into O’Callahan’s home located at 620 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY.
1942- April 1, “Annual Exhibition of the Buffalo Print Club”, etchings, wood engravings and lithographs shown, held in Room for Local Art, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
1943- The “Fourth National Print Show of the Buffalo Print Club”, 143 prints by 124 artists, 5 by members of the Club were shown, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
1948- “Four-Woman Print Show of the Buffalo Print Club”, featuring works by Margaret Heyn, Alice Gershel Hunt, Catherine Catanzaro Koenig and Margaret Hunt Lansing, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
circa 1952-53- Kevin B. O’Callahan retired as President of the Buffalo Print Club, and William J. Schwanekamp (American, 1893-1970) then became President of the Club. Most members of the Club only worked sporadically after that.
1962- After Kevin B. O’Callahan’s mother had died, he lost his enthusiasm for the creative artistic process and printmaking all together, and the Buffalo Print Club soon came to an end.
1988- Exhibited, group retrospective show, “Kevin B. O’Callahan And The Buffalo Print Club”, (1988), 89 prints from 18 former Club members, Burchfield Art Center (now the Burchfield-Penney Art Center), Buffalo, NY.
2003- Exhibited, group retrospective show, “The Buffalo Print Club”, 72 prints by 7 former Buffalo Print Club members, Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY.
2014- November 29-December 31, 2014, exhibited, group show, "Niels Yde Andersen (1888-1952): Etchings, Drawings and Friends", with works by various members of the Buffalo Print Club, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.
(Chronologically rewritten and reorganized in certain parts by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., meibohmfinearts.com)