Glen Alps, who was born on June 20, 1914 in Loveland, Colorado, made several important contributions in the field of printmaking, chief among these was the developing of the “collagraph” process. He attended Colorado State College of Education (today University of Northern Colorado) in Greeley, Colorado, where he received the Bachelor of Arts in 1940. In 1945 he returned to school at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he was awarded the Master of Fine Arts in 1947. During that summer Alps studied with printmaker Mauricio Lasansky at the University of Iowa.
Alps began teaching in the Art Department of the University of Washington while he was still a graduate student there. In 1947 the chairman of the department, Walter F. Jacobs, invited Alps to teach classes in watercolor and design as an acting associate of the school. He soon began teaching printmaking, as well. After graduation Alps’s teaching career at the University of Washington continued. He received tenure in 1954 and became a full professor in 1962. He was named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement from teaching in 1984.
Beginning in the 1950’s Alps became nationally and internationally known for his innovations in printmaking and for the development of unique matrices. Alps was one of the first artists to exhibit a “collagraph”, a term he coined, in 1957 at the Brooklyn Museum. Since that time, the technique has been absorbed into the mainstream of printmaking. Other experiments iincluded burnt lacquer and vitreographs (prints pulled from glass plates) on which he collaborated with glass artist and printer Harvey Littleton. He exhibited in most of the major print exhibitions throughout the United States, Europe and Japan from the 1950’s through the 1980’s.
His influence extended throughout the United States and around the world even bringing major Japanese masters such as Kiyoshi Saito and Jun’ichiro Sekino to Seattle to work firsthand with Alps in the collagraph medium. In 1961, Alps was invited to produce a series of lithographs at the Tamarind Institute, an atelier known for its own important contributions within the field. One of the most important books written on printmaking is The Art Of The Print by Fritz Eichenberg (Harry N. Abrams, 1976). Attesting to the importance of Alps’ work, the author included Alps’ work and working methods in a prominent section of the book.
Glen Alps died in Seattle, Washington on November 3, 1996