Ice, ice, baby
Naughton and Carr work on what used to be the production floor of an ice factory. The building has been refurbished and is populated with a community of galleries and artists. The building is instantly recognizable because of its rainbow window frames and brightly lit storefront, which affords passers-by a glimpse of the art-filled interiors.
Naughton is a classically trained fine-arts printmaker, studying lithography, etching and other classic techniques as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa and graduate student at New Mexico State. “I knew I wanted to do art and didn’t ever do anything else,” he said. Carr came to printmaking in a less classical sense. While living with the owners of El Torreon, back when the Cowtown Mallroom space was a punk club, Carr did screen printing in their basement in exchange for rent.
Good on paper
Carr loves printmaking in part because of the instant gratification. “I really liked it, right off the bat. It’s so visually rewarding. Every time you pull a print, you lift up the screen, you see it, and you go, ‘Yeah! Cool!’ Every single time, every 30 seconds, you’re just like, ‘Yeah! Cool!’ That feeling has never really left,” he said.
Pressed for time
When asked about a “regular day” for their business, Carr and Naughton laughed. “We don’t have regular,” Carr said. Carr works as a graphic designer during the day, so his nights and Saturdays are spent in the La Cucaracha studio. Naughton is there “generally every day of the week,” but he heads in at whatever time he feels like it in the morning. Carr doesn’t mind the long hours. “This is awesome. This is what I want to be doing,” he said. “To be doing that at one in the morning some nights is not that big of a deal.”
La Cucaracha, which means the cockroach in Spanish, may seem like an unusual name for a print shop, but Naughton and Carr want Kansas City to understand that the name was not chosen arbitrarily. Naughton read Oscar Zeta Acosta’s “La Cucaracha” in 2001 or 2002 and was deeply affected by the story of Chicano revolution told by the lawyer upon which Hunter S. Thompson based Dr. Gonzo of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” At that time, Naughton told himself: “I’m going to open a print shop, and it’s going to be called La Cucaracha Press.” Just as the cockroach is said to be the only survivor of nuclear holocaust, La Cucaracha came out of “the ashes” of the Arts Incubator, the now-closed Crossroads studio space where Naughton and Carr met.