Just Artists had their first Steamroller Printing Event, on Tuesday, March 26, 2024 at Diablo Valley College. It was a beautiful sunny day and everyone arrived without any complications. As they were setting up, there was already a crowd building. At 11:00am, the Artists Panel was held. Just Artists: Felix Lucero, Katya McCulloch, Nicola Bucci, Henry Frank, Beth Thielen, and Gary Harrell all spoke.

Henry Frank received a Activating Art and Advocacy Grant from the Art for Justice Fund to get the project started. Our grant request was to provide opportunities for artists coming out of the California carceral system to further connect with a community of artists to support of each other’s work and having survived the chaotic environment of prison. We provided studio space, supplies, income, exhibition space, social media training/support, along with opportunities and guidance for selling their art. The goal was for participants to create art prints that they were proud of, as well as experience skills related collaboration, exhibiting, marketing, and community engagement.

Background: In 2008, Art Hazelwood was invited to participate in the Live Steamroller Event hosted by The Center of the Book with the theme “censorship”. Art contacted Katya McCulloch, who is the block printing instructor at San Quentin, to find out if she thought her students might be interested in collaborating with him on this 3 ft x 3 ft piece of linoleum. The students were excited to collaborate and experienced the live steamroller printing event through photos.

Present Day: Gary Harrell, Felix Lucero, Katya McCulloch, Art Hazelwood, and Henry Frank were the original artists who participated in the steamroller project in 2008. Isiah Daniels, Nicola Bucci, and Beth Thielen were added to this year’s steamroller print project. This project was funded by the Art for Justice Fund and the William James Association. Peter Merts Photography, Cresco Rentals, Speedball Art Supplies, Poster Syndicate, and the Art and Social Justice Departments of Diablo Valley College donated their services for this event.

Our first workshop was on June 17, 2023, and the group continued to meet regularly until the event on March 26th. The studio in Richmond became an oasis from the everyday responsibilities, challenges and stressors, just like the Arts in Corrections studio in San Quentin. Not that we were running or avoiding them, while in these studios, we focused on the art, the process, the other artists and their lives. As art was being created, we were giving and receiving support for each other with the challenges and celebrations in each other lives. Just like the studio in San Quentin, art was the reason for gathering, but community, compassion, and vulnerability encouraged us to stay.

This project was a huge a success, not because we successfully executed and created professional grade prints, but because the artists involved were dedicated and invested in both the project and the sense of community that was fostered with their fellow artists.