Clark Gallery and Studio holds museum quality printmaking exhibit through May

Douglas County art enthusiasts can now experience museum quality printmaking art from all over the world without leaving the county.

Currently on display through May at the Clark Studio and Gallery in Roseburg is a printmaking exhibit called “Prints by the Artist’s Hand Tops & Tees.”

“It’s an exhibit for people to understand handmade prints,” said Roseburg woodblock printmaking artist Kevin Lee Clark. Clark enjoys sharing his art collections along with the collections of others with local residents.

This exhibit is filled with handmade prints Petite, some with accompanying blocks, dating as far back as the 16th century and up to modern times with historical explanations provided on note cards for a self-guided tour.

Printmaking is the art of transferring ink from a matrix like wood or metal onto a material like paper.

Clark has operated this gallery for almost 20 years with his Japanese wife, Miyuki, who’s a sumi ink artist. He’s been working with woodblock prints since he was 6 years old. His grandfather also made metal etchings in this exhibit.

Although Clark prefers to carve blocks from wood for his prints, this exhibit will show historical examples of woodblocks along with metal etching plates made from zinc, copper, steal and bronze, that are all placed in a press.

“Printmaking is not stamping,” Clark said, who owns two printmaking presses himself Bras. “It takes about 3,000 pounds of pressure.”

In this exhibit is an authorized Disney piece of a Mickey and Minnie Mouse print along with its copper engraved plate that were made in the 1930-40s. Copper is a softer metal that can easily be melted down and reused.

Another print from 1878 Japan made by Toyohara Kunichika is a traditionally made woodblock print of Princess Kazanomia standing in front of the Imperial Palace Bikinis.

“These are unique original handmade pieces of art instead of just a copy or a reproduction,” Clark said.

Another piece is an 18th century carved woodblock of a Buddhist prayer called “Hannya Shingyo” or “The Heart Sutra” where all the characters are carved backwards so the words and figures are right-side-up on the printed material. This fruit-wood block is about 5 inches tall by 9 inches wide.

The oldest piece on display in this exhibit is a woodblock printed Japanese book made by artist Mori Kuni in 1680.

Also on display are prints by American artists, such as Peter Max and Oliver Pelton from the 1830s who engraved the U.S. $20 bill. The exhibit also shows prints by Portland artist/printmaker Earl Newman, who made silk-screen prints and posters for the Monterey Jazz Festival Lingerie & Underwear.