The Wildcat Print Association is teaming up with Hotel Congress and several other downtown venues for the annual Nightmare on Congress Street celebration. Amidst the chaos of live music, drinks and dancing, guests will have an opportunity to purchase custom-designed shirts made during a live screen-printing event on Hotel Congress' patio.
The University of Arizona club, established in 2001, is a coalition of UA students, alumni and local printmaking artists. Although the organization has done printings with Hotel Congress in the past, members wanted to expand and create a more-interactive event.
WPA event coordinator Robert Hall, better known as "Slobby Robby," helped organize the Ghost Town Carnival, which is taking place on the patio of Hotel Congress. More than 20 core members of the screen-printing club and volunteers—aka "carnies"—will run three different printing stations, where people can meet with artists, design their own shirts, and have those shirts made on the spot.
"It's something for people to do that's more than standing around, listening to a band and drinking," said Hall.
Attendees are encouraged to interact with artists, to learn, and to help create wearable works of art. A selection of print designs and T-shirt colors are available to choose from, and if you hate to wait, pre-made shirts, prints, paintings and sculptural pieces will be available for purchase. Shirts are $10 a piece, and a print on paper is $5. In addition, a limited-edition WPA screen-print design will be offered exclusively at the Ghost Town Carnival.
Hall described his passion for screen-printing as a way to bridge the gap between artists and the community. "It's an opportunity to bring fine art to everyday people, and that's really exciting to me," he said.
He explained that screen-printed shirts are easily reproducible mobile pieces of art.
"It's art that moves," he said. "You can make multiples. If you buy a painting, it will only go in one house!"
Joining WPA for the live printing session is well-known printing company Drive by Press (drivebypress.com). The "mobile art studio" is known for its unique wood-block method of printing which, much like the process used by the WPA, uses customer-artist collaborations. The company tours the nation to different schools and exhibitions to give lectures and teach print workshops.
The Ghost Town Carnival, not to be confused with a haunted house, is zombie-cowboy-themed party that Hotel Congress entertainment director David Slutes calls "completely weird and different."
Other happenings on the back patio will include $1 carnival games. Local studio production company Hobo Stew will have an "interactive" photo booth with a frightful twist, and there will be free giveaways and prizes throughout the night.
Slutes expressed excitement about hosting the live screen-printing.
"It's so cool," he said, "like an assembly line of artful components for this very weird Halloween event."
Nightmare on Congress—touted as the largest Halloween party in Southern Arizona—runs through the east end of downtown and includes four venues. New this year is the "Treehouse of Horror" dance party at the Playground roof deck, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Congress Street. Hotel Congress is hosting Matt McCoy's Bang! Bang! dance party inside, in addition to three live bands outside at the Ghost Town Carnival. Both venues are 21-and-up events.
Live music and art will be featured as part of the Santa Muerte Music and Arts Festival at the Rialto Theatre and Sacred Machine. Of course, there will be various costume contests with prizes.