Checking In with Former TLP Director, Theresa Kuhr

Theresa Gates Kuhr (BFA, Printmaking, The Ohio State University 1990; MFA, Printmaking, University of Cincinnati 1993) was Tiger Lily Press’s longest serving volunteer director. We checked in with her recently about her time managing the studio and what she’s been up to since “retiring”:

“I spent a total of 18 years looking over Tiger Lily Press, 1993-1994 and 1999-2015. It almost feels like one of my children. The years I spent as director were the same years that I had three of my four daughters. My kids grew up with Tiger Lily as a routine part of conversation. They learned proper etiquette from having to attend art openings. They learned patience from having to wait for me to “take care of business”. They learned how to work in a studio and make prints. So valuable! And they learned appreciation of the arts. My gracious husband allowed me to be an unpaid director for all that time and he even allowed me to pay a babysitter to go to “work” at TLP in the summers when school was out and kids were home. These are the people I am most grateful for. They knew how much I loved Tiger Lily and they supported me 110%.

Several of my years at TLP were spent working with a trio of directors. This trio was an idea birthed by Susan Naylor back in 1998 when she had served as director for five years and was looking for a replacement. She knew that the job needed a team of people so she sought out Cara Bardes, Elizabeth Foley and myself. I don’t think we knew each other yet, I can’t remember for sure. But she thought that we, as recent MFA graduates, would make a great team to lead TLP into its next chapter.

At the same time Susan was handing over the reins to the new trio, Tiger Lily needed to find a new home. The Art Academy, where TLP had been housed since 1985, wanted the studio space back so they helped facilitate a transfer to another organization. The Cincinnati Recreation Commission (CRC) was that organization. The CRC has supported Tiger Lily since 1999 — twenty one years by this point! We spent time in three different CRC buildings over the course of those years: the Butterfield Recreation Center (downtown Cincinnati), the Dunham Recreation Center Art Building (West Price Hill) and the current location, the Schoolhouse at Dunham. So much appreciation is owed to the CRC for their support!

I am so lucky to have had the chance to work with the other directors over the years (1999-2010); Liz and Cara, Elaine Mullen Zumeta, Don DeSander and Rick Finn. These people were all great to work with. Loads of laughs and plenty of hard work. We were continually working out new ways to engage local artists and create community; classes, portfolio exchanges, guest speakers and demonstrators, field trips, critique sessions, collaborations with other local art groups, etc. The Print Sale was born in these days to get members together and draw the public to the studio. We had a good amount of space but were tucked away in a park, so we had to work to get people to know where we were. Things were still done by snail mail at this point! The bi-annual print calendar also originated during this time as a fundraiser to keep our space when our building, the Arts Building on the Dunham Recreation Center Campus, was falling into disrepair.

The trio structure eventually fell away when Rick and Elaine had to move on to other ventures. It was then that Aaron Kent arrived on the scene. He helped set up a screen print room and held open studios. Aaron left shortly after to open his own studio. The last five years were spent working closely with my mentor and friend, Susan Naylor. She saw that things were getting challenging around 2011 when the building continued to need a load of maintenance. So she came back to help rescue TLP. This is when we were given the opportunity to build a studio to fit our needs inside the newly revived Schoolhouse at Dunham. It was an exciting time building from nothing and we could not have done it without Susan!

Because of Tiger Lily’s long history in Cincinnati, its unique space in the arts, and its ability to offer built-in community, many of the people who associate with Tiger Lily are dedicated for long periods of time and, also, often come back to work after stretches of inactivity. April Foster, Carole Winters, Louann Elliott, and Mary Mark are a few of these loyal artists that I got to work with.

There are too many artists, stories, activities, exhibitions and events to mention, but some of the most memorable for me were:
* Co-teaching with artist Thom Shaw at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
* Hosting the Korean printmaker, Ha Dong Chul and his daughters and being able to connect with some of Cincinnati’s Korean community because of it.
* The Prints for Peace and Justice exhibition and Mini Conference with the Four Ohio Print Co-ops was a big one.
* The Steamroller Print Event when several TLP artists collaborated on one large lino block and printed it up in Dayton, Ohio.

Some events and programs that I am proud to have initiated were:
* The Paper Doll Challenges. The “challenge” idea brought by then member Carla Trujillo-Dinius.
* The Working Artist Program which originated to draw in top notch local artists as residents.
* The Next Generation event where we reached out to five local college Print Departments and invited their best students to come to TLP to present their work. I would have loved for this to become a regular event to build new generations of TLPers, but the necessary relocation of the studio derailed its evolution.

I am forever grateful for the chance Tiger Lily gave me to keep my art alive during the challenging early motherhood years. And I am completely fortunate to have made so many valuable relationships with other artists and the Ohio Arts community.

I left Tiger Lily in 2015 to focus on my family and my health. I looked forward to the chance to see Tiger Lily as an outsider. To see where it could go with fresh energy at the wheel. The group of artists who took over have done a fantastic job of growing the opportunities available for TLP members.

Since re-building my health after years of burning the candle at both ends, I have been studying the holistic system of medicine known as Ayurveda and have started a health coaching program for people to recover their innate body wisdom. I am actively integrating my love of art and health and am excited about what the future holds for these two mediums of connection and communion.”

Thanks to Theresa Kuhr and her family for “lending” her to us! Without the tireless efforts of many volunteers over the last 40 years, Tiger Lily Press would not be in existence. As the organization looks to the future, we continue to honor our past.


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