Studio Tullis - Historical information
Old Sash Mill, Santa Cruz, Ca. 1974
Garner Tullis teaching Richard Tullis at The International Institute of Experimental Printmaking. photographer unknown
Hidden treasure behind door nine - Atelier Richard Tullis
Santa Barbara News Press 1995
Underneath the noses of so many of us who follow the art scene in Santa Barbara, Richard Tullis has been operating one of the most exciting laboratories for artistic experimentation in the state. Situated in an old Sunkist lemon processing plant at the end of Salsipuedes Street, Tullis has quietly facilitated the creation of numerous bodies of works on paper by an eclectic range of artists from all over the world. Although the operation has technically been active since 1985, it is only within the last three years that the studio has come under the ownership of Richard, and been guided by his own particular vision. Formerly the Garner Tullis Workshop, Richard took over the business in 1992 from his father and changed the name to Atelier Richard Tullis / A.R.T.9, emphasizing the individuality of his enterprise.
Trained in ceramics, printmaking, and photography, it is painters that have attracted Richard’s attention for projects during the last two years, looking to artists with a particular facility for paint handling and distinctive image-making for his collaborations. Artists as far-ranging as Shirley Kaneda, Christopher Le Brun, Jacqueline Humphries, Per Kirkeby, Thérèse Oulton, Chuck Arnoldi, Idelle Weber, and Joan Tanner have come to push their craft within the cavernous warehouse space of the Tullis Atelier, relying on the two enormous presses, hand-made Tullis paper, and Richard’s encouraging expertise for a variety of undertakings. Artists usually stay for a two week period, during which time it usually takes a few days to work through some adjustments to the technology before they really get into a rhythm of familiarity and facility. The works created are never made in multiple editions, but are instead made as singular works, one at a time, using the uncommon technology of 800 ton presses to open up new creative avenues in their practice.
Joan Tanner, for instance, who engaged in a short but prodigious stint at the Atelier, put the funky materials with which she has been working lately together into intriguing compositions that are given a whole new dimension when pressed against paper. Copper wire, plywood, rubber, aluminum sheeting, solder, and roofing material were all employed in Tanner’s extraordinary prints, resulting in stained and compressed plates that hold as much interest as the complicated prints from which they were made. New York painter Shirley Kaneda’s recent residency introduced an element of expediency into her work that is usually absent in the paintings she builds up and adjusts over a long period of time. The complex interrelationships of patterns, colors and shapes that Kaneda balances in her paintings were complicated further by the exciting shifts of depth created by the bas-relief of the embossed prints. The Danish artist Per Kirkeby exploited the immediacy and largescale capabilities of Tullis’ large offset proof press, a machine that was refitted to artistic tasks after its original purpose of printing B-29 Bomber struts during World War II. Kirkeby created numerous human-scaled impressions around nature-based themes. Exhibited as a group, as in the recent “Untitled” exhibition at UC Santa Barbara’s University Art Museum, these works become environmental in both their scope and feeling.
Tullis is just beginning to expand the visibility of his Atelier, making the products of his labors more accessible to a wider audience. His recent collaboration with Chuck Arnoldi, resulting in a large body of wildly colorful and expressive works on paper, was featured in the Venice Art Walk in Los Angeles in May. A selection of Atelier Richard Tullis prints were recently donated to the collection of the University Art Museum at UCSB, some of which were part of the Museum’s permanent collection exhibition, “From Warhol to Baule,” on view this summer. “Works from the Atelier Richard Tullis,” a sampling of artist’s projects fresh from the Tullis presses, was also presented at Sullivan and Goss in Santa Barbara. As these various showings have proved, increasing accessibility to this challenging material, for audiences both near and far, is a welcomed development, as this work is just too good to keep hidden.
Michael Darling, June 14, 1995
Santa Barbara News Press