Shark’s Ink – an etching studio in Lyon, founded by artists Bud and Barbara Shark – has hosted an array of creatives over the decades.
What began as a small center, first located in Boulder, has grown into a destination for those looking to have an intimate, high-quality experience creating art, connecting with other creators, and receiving inspired instructions.
Shark’s Ink’s 46-year legacy will be showcased in a new exhibit at the University of Colorado Museum of Art, featuring the works of 27 artists who have collaborated with the lithography studio over the years.
Opening Tuesday on campus, “Onward and Upward: Shark’s Ink” will display 34 prints and a variety of tools used in the creative process. Shark’s Ink is known for its three-dimensional lithographs created through unusual and inventive printmaking techniques.
The work on display is part of an extensive permanent collection, named Sharkive, which contains 2,700 prints and related materials from 40 years of collaborative work in lithography, monotype and woodcut. CU Boulder acquired the internationally acclaimed collection in 2018 in a $1.35 million purchase.
The collection includes works from over 40 years of collaborations between world-renowned artists and Shark’s Ink. It has over 700 signed, limited-edition prints and over 2,000 related materials, including artist studies, trial proofs, single prints with paper alternatives, and notes and correspondence from the artist and printer.
“We started documenting the Sharkive in 2004 with the hope that it would find a home,” Bud Shark said. “The artists we work with have become friends and we love all the prints we’ve made with them. It’s hard to pick favorites.
For Bud Shark, the art of printmaking was literally love at first sight.
“I saw a lithograph and was intrigued by how the ink was in the paper, not on the paper,” Shark said. “I took a course in lithography at the University of Wisconsin and that was it. We do what we love and we’re lucky it was successful.
The upcoming opening of this exhibit is highly anticipated for the Sharks and staff, who have worked hard to bring the project to light.
“We began transporting and unpacking the Sharkive to CU in the summer of 2019, and just months into the project, we experienced pandemic-related delays,” said Hope Saska, Chief Curator and Director. of the academic commitment of the CU Art Museum. “It feels like we’ve been working on this project for a while, and it’s exciting to see the carvings on the wall.”
Renowned artists who have worked with Shark’s Ink include John Buck, Enrique Chagoya, Red Grooms, Jane Hammond, Robert Kushner, Hung Liu and Betty Woodman.
“They have a reputation that spans across regional and national borders,” Saska said. “Shark’s Ink prints are collected by museums and art lovers around the world. We are excited to celebrate the reach of Shark’s Ink and share that with our visitors.
Ana Maria Hernando – an Argentinian artist with a studio in North Boulder – is one of many creatives who have collaborated with Bud Shark over the years. She began working with the Sharks in 2005. More than 10 of her pieces made at Shark’s Ink fill the Sharkive at CU.
“It’s a great pleasure to work with someone so incredibly knowledgeable,” said Hernando. “Coming to work with Bud (Shark) makes my work blossom in a way that I hadn’t been prepared for before. He gets bigger. My language becomes more expansive. It’s a real collaboration. »
For Hernando, as for so many artists, the magic also lies in the hospitality offered. Some artists stay on the property and wake up to Barbara Shark’s homemade granola and yogurt.
“You are nurtured on so many levels,” Hernando said.
Visitors to the exhibit will get an up-close look at a limited-edition lithographic book that includes poetry, “Salka Archipelago,” which Hernando created with Kenneth Robinson.
Hernando wanted to be an artist since he was 5 years old. As a child growing up in Argentina, she often received English lessons from a guest tutor who then encouraged her to draw the subject of the word on paper after learning it.
Years ago, Hernando underwent major surgery to remove a brain tumor, an experience that impacted his work.
“I started making these parts that had these 3D components that had a lot of white,” Hernando said. “These pieces that I’m grateful for because they kind of nurtured me in my practice.”
After recovering from the successful operation and slowly gathering her strength, Hernando again joined Bud Shark in the studio to produce more meaningful works.
“By the time I did ‘El Corazón Inocente’, in 2010, I was much better and could use those more vibrant colors,” Hernando said. “We incorporated 3D elements and more sculptural pieces into the work. He is inspired by the experience of going through the world with an open heart and the experience of experiencing such a life event.
Hernando remains busy creating sculptural works and fiber installations using tulle while experimenting with other mediums.
“Art is the air I breathe,” Hernando said. “It’s a way for my heart, my mind and my soul to come together. It’s also my way of giving to the world. Without art, my life would be flat.
For the CU Art Museum team, narrowing down the collection to decide which pieces to display was no easy task, Saska said, but they put a lot of thought into their choices.
“I think some of the prints that are really special for Shark’s Ink are the ones that are put together in three dimensions or have cutouts and glued elements,” Saska said. “Many of the prints made at Shark’s Ink combine visual and technical complexity. For example, Enrique Chagoya’s 1999 codex, “The Adventures of the Modernist Cannibals”, asks the viewer to read from right to left and decode a number of symbols and visual references.
From 10 a.m. to noon on September 10, the museum will host an open house breakfast that will feature music, food, and a special shark tour, as well as local artists exhibiting work as part of the exhibition.
“I’m looking forward to celebrating with the Sharks, and I think we’re all looking forward to interacting with our visitors,” Saska said. “Opening an exhibit is just the first step in sharing the Sharkive. We will be rolling out a series of show-related programs, and we look forward to continuing to engage with visitors. »
Visitors will get a glimpse of how these moving pieces come together.
“We even filmed Bud (Shark) at work on a recent edition of (artist) Kara Maria and display that video next to the production material so visitors can see how a print is made,” Saska said.
Open Day attendees will also be able to stretch their creative muscles and experiment with this art form.
“We decided to turn the whole museum into a celebration of prints and engravings,” said Saska. “My colleagues in our Visitor Experience department have designed several interactive activities so visitors can engage with the exhibit and then craft something to take home.”
The exhibition will run until July 2023. There are plans to tour the work in January.
As for the future of Shark’s Ink, the Sharks are excited to continue to team up with creatives and keep the creativity going.
“We look forward to future collaborations with new artists and artist friends who return year after year,” Shark said.