Librarian in the Studio — The Print & Printmaking Art of Anne Haley

Walla Walla Lettertype print by Anne Haley, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Walla Walla Lettertype print by Anne Haley, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

It took 50 years, but  Anne Haley was finally able to take ninth grade shop class.

Of course, she was no longer in ninth grade, but that’s not such a bad thing: one time through on that is enough for most people. Instead, Haley plunged into college life, re-entering as an art student after a 32-year career in public librarianship, including 20 years as the Director of the Walla Walla Public Library.

Evening Sky, monoprint by Walla Walla artist Anne Haley, showing at Wenaha Gallery

Evening Sky, monoprint by Walla Walla artist Anne Haley

“I worked my fool ass off trying to keep up with twenty-year-olds,” the Walla Walla artist recalls. “It was the most difficult, but the most rewarding educational experience: I took classes in painting, photography, drawing, art history, sculpture, time arts, and printmaking.” Beginning at Walla Walla Community College and Walla Walla University, Haley finished out her studies at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree and solidified a focus on the medium that grabbed her passion: printmaking, specifically etching, letterpress, and lithography.

“I have always been involved and inspired by things tactile,” Haley explains, describing a shadow art career that started in first grade with finger paintings (“My mother saved those paintings”), moving on to jewelry and knitting in high school, stitchery at the first run in college, quilt making, and then the full art media foray of her second college adventure. During her library career, Haley called upon creative instincts to set up arrangements in display cases every month for 20 years, in addition to festooning annual reports and designing holiday banners, bookmarks, and informational flyers.

Harvest Ready etched print by Walla Walla artist Anne Haley, guest at Wenaha Gallery

Harvest Ready, etched print by Walla Walla artist Anne Haley

And then of course there’s her house, which she describes as “a giant art project.”

Within that giant art project is a whole-house studio that includes computers and digital printers in the second floor study, an etching/litho press in an old basement storeroom, and a treasure chest of letterpress type — many from the old press building of the Wenatchee World newspaper, founded in 1905 by Haley’s grandfather — jumbled in boxes and organized as Haley has time.

These relics from the bygone era of letterpress printing — which began with Gutenberg’s press in 1440 and was outmoded in the 1980s with the advent of digitalization — “have gone the way of the buggy whip,” Haley says.

“I have begged, borrowed, and bought letterpress type of various fonts and sizes — it doesn’t matter to me if I have a complete alphabet; I am interested in the shapes.”

Walla VIII letterpress print by Walla Walla artist Anne Haley

Walla VIII, letterpress print by Walla Walla artist Anne Haley

Haley incorporated these shapes in a series of works entitled Old Presses and New, celebrating both the modern and antiquated printing presses. Letterpress shapes also find their way onto 6 x 6 mini-works (Art Squared) and Havana Live, this latter featuring multi-media artworks based on three trips Haley has made to Cuba.

In addition to letterpress, Haley creates etched prints (fashioned from metal plates on which the design has been incised by acid), lithography (printed from a flat surface treated to repel the ink except where it is desired to be printed), digital prints, and monotype (a single, unique print created when metal or glass plates are coated with ink, and the paper then pressed upon the surface). Often, she layers more than one printmaking medium in a multi-media fusion.

Other than monoprints, which as their name suggests are limited to a run of one, Haley creates editions of 5-10 prints, all as perfectly alike as she can make them. Afterwards, the plate from which the prints were made is struck so that no prints can be made thereafter.

A Quiet Conversation etched print by walla walla artist Anne Haley

A Quiet Conversation, etched print by Walla Walla artist Anne Haley

Collections of Haley’s work are at the Penrose Library of Whitman College in Walla Walla; the Clapp Library of Occidental College, Los Angeles; and Brown & Haley, the candy-maker and distributor, in Tacoma. She has held numerous solo, two-person, and group exhibitions throughout the Pacific Northwest and in Cuba, and was accepted into the Artlink National Print Exhibit at the Auer Center for Arts & Culture in Fort Wayne, IN. At the BFA annual show in the Pacific Northwest College of Art, her 6-inch by 2-inch piece was awarded juror’s pick, where it was hung between two gigantic paintings of 8-feet by 5-feet “that could be seen a block away.”

Small or large, Haley’s prints reflect the sense of the place where she lives, an agricultural town that maintains a visceral connection to the land that is not found in urban settings. They also reflect the human connection, a history of life that far transcends the technology of printing.

“I am committed to creating my work with love,” Haley says, “and hope that the viewer can sense this depth of feeling in the work that I make.”

Wenaha GalleryAnne Haley is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, January 16, through Saturday, February 11.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit the gallery today!