Position the word "contemporary" in front of the nouns art, music, or poetry, and some people will shudder at the prospect of perplexing work that may need to marinate for decades before it can be fully appreciated.
But the 60 contemporary prints at the Hudson Gallery are a winsome lot, chosen for color, grace, sophistication, and humor.
The Hudsons began assembling the prints early this year, contacting artists and publishers. "We were very specific about the artists we wanted," says Barbara Hudson, co-owner with her husband, Scott Hudson.
There's something for every taste in "Celebrating Contemporary Print Making," which features works by 35 nationally known American artists long admired by the Hudsons. It's the first major show at this new shop just beyond Toledo's city limits in Sylvania. Because of its popularity, the run has been extended through May 29.
"Most of these artists are museum-collected, and we're trying to have a more national approach," Ms. Hudson says of the market niche they aim to fill.
These are not mass-produced copies. Some are one-of-a-kind (monoprint). Many have been printed, in a collaboration between the artist and a master printmaker, from the original surface in small editions. Prices begin at $350.
"What we were really trying to do is provide an overall view of printmaking and as many of the processes that go into printmaking as possible," says Mr. Hudson.
Prints are made by creating an image on a surface, applying color, then transferring the image to paper. Among the many techniques are cuts made on wood, clay, or linoleum. There are etchings, engravings, silkscreens, intaglio, lithographs, and collographs. One artist in this show used a sheet of plexiglass as his plate.
After a print is made, an artist might embellish it by adding color, paper, or other material.
Coloradoan Jean Gumpper's side-by-side pieces show the differences between a design carved from a slab of clay and a woodcut. Her one-of-a-kind clay prints, Rain Sounds, are soft, subtle images. Her adjacent woodcut, Not Always So, with yellow leaves in a gray-blue pond, has sharper edges and crisper colors, because it was produced on a harder substrate.
Robert Kushner's Midsummer is a genteel lithograph of red cherries and gooseberries against a deep blue background on one half; on the other half, fruited branches hang against a creamy-colored wood grain. One of 30 prints, it sells for $2,000.
Botanica is a green, 62-by-37-inch woodcut of an unfurled Hawaiian fiddlehead tree fern, accented with orange, by John Buck, of Hawaii and Montana.
A dyptich, split between orange/yellow and green, is thin wood veneer applied to paper, one of 30 by Sam Gilliam of Washington, D.C.
Most whimsical is Red Grooms' three-dimensional glimpse into Picasso's studio, protected in a large, see-through case. Grooms printed paper, then cut, folded, and glued it, fashioning a bare torso and head of Picasso. The Spaniard holds an ashy cigarette in one hand and sketches a black owl with the other. A 3-D dog sleeps on a 3-D chair.
Cut-out images of a bullfight, stringed instruments, and cubist art decorate the wall behind him. At $7,500, it's the priciest print - one of 10 in this artist's proof edition.
A 2000 Peter Max print, Mondrian Ladies, is a serigraph, similar to the silk-screen process. Fluid primary colors flow into hair and hats on two female profiles. At 350 copies, this is the biggest print run, and at $2,300, is an apt example of the correlation between price and name recognition.
"Celebrating Contemporary Print Making," featuring works by 35 nationally known American artists, is on display through May 29 in Hudson Gallery, 5577 Monroe St. in Sylvania. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Information: 419-885-8381.
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