In 1975, the now master printer Jo Watanabe shared a loft building on New York City’s Lower East Side with his brother and a handful of artist tenants—among them, the legendary conceptual artist Sol LeWitt—who Watanabe coolly keeps anonymous while recalling their story.
“The reason I started printing is because this artist asked my older brother if he wanted to do a project for him, and he happened to be in the same building as this artist,” Watanabe says, who later moved into the building himself. “My brother asked me if I would help to do this project, which would be titled ‘Lines and Color,’ because it was a bit complicated. When I started, I didn’t know anything about printmaking, so I had to learn the whole process quickly. I went to printmakers and talked to all kinds of people who gave me their own idea of how this project should be done. Everyone told me different things because everybody has their own knowledge and skill. So I put all the pieces of information together and we tried it. But for a long time, nothing worked. It was very complicated. It required a log of knowledge and skill that I didn’t have. But in the end, I managed, and that’s how I started.”