By Samia A. Halaby

Across the park from City Hall in New York on 12 Warren Street near Broadway you will find a silkscreen studio without equal . This shop, Maurel Studios which was founded in the fifties, is a reflection of the precious knowledge accumulated by its Master Printer -- Sheila Marbain. I first met Sheila some ten years ago after she was recommended by a friend who saw me printing in North Haven at Sirocco where the Joseph Albers prints were done. At Sirocco I had to teach them the wax resist method which I had learnt from Charley Pollock as a student. Marbain, in contrast, knew it all and taught me yet more.

Sheila Marbain is a printer's printer. Her love of art and artists and her tendency to encourage them to relax with the medium and feel free to explore is known and respected not only by artists but also by her fellow silkscreen printers. I love the story she told me about Helen Frankenthaler which I had to coax out of her. Apparently their collaboration had gotten so thick that Sheila and all her equipment ended up one day in Helen's studio and together they reinvented a pochoir/silkscreen combination.

Marbain has printed all methods ranging from photographic screens and stencils to wax resist with tusche and wax crayons to poshoir and all that goes between. Some of the most demanding prints that she ever made were for Arakawa. Other artists whome the reader would recognize and who have worked with Marbain are Joseph Albers, Alfred Jensen, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Lindner, Marison, Robert Motherwell, Claes Oldenburg, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Larry Poons, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselman.

Five years ago Rutgers University honored sheila Marbain with a 25 year retrospective exhibition which was held at the Zimmerli Art Museum.

Marbain's tendency to encourage artists to explore has led her this month of February, 1994, to perfect a technique of silkscreen mono-printing with wax. The technique of using pigments in a wax medium is called encaustic. Actually then what Marbain is doing is encaustic silkscreen mono-printing. Wax, we should all remember, is the most permanent of media and very warm in the richness of its glow. the silk imparts a gentle texture. The result is a translucent, luminous medium so versatile that it lends itself readily to hand drawing directly on the screen with a variety of tools. A number of artists have been invited to work with her and they are all high on the idea.

Print lovers, artists, and publishers will find that a visit to her studio is a joy. They will find a live piece of history as precious as a jewel and as lovely as an orchid. And like an orchid all wonderful things have their season. All of you who are excited about this very special shop and this very special Master Printer should call (212) 513-7435 or write to Maurel Studios, 12 Warren St., New Yor, NY 10007.

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