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This exhibition is one of the most important, most interesting and, dare we say, the most beautiful we have mounted. A little of the background story could help the viewer to better understand it, but it’s not essential. One can – and many do – just come in and enjoy the art.

So, either way, this one’s worth seeing. It really is.

Elvis by Red Grooms The exhibition features a selection of prints and related correspondence from the Sharkive, an internationally important collection of prints (mostly lithographs and woodcuts) created in the Lyons, Colorado studio of Master Printer, Bud Shark, over the past 40 years. The Sharkive represents a significant chapter in post-war American printmaking, featuring an impressive roster of contemporary artists. For the past 40 years, Bud Shark has collaborated with some of the country’s most accomplished artists working in American contemporary art. And the resultant collection of over 700 prints and 2000 pieces of correspondence like proofs, drawings and letters is astounding.

The Sharkive is currently being acquired by the University of Colorado Art Museum (CUAM).

This exhibition contains some of our favorite prints from the Sharkive. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.


How It Began with Shark’s

15th Street Gallery has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Bud Shark for almost 30 years. We have framed his incredible prints since about 1987. His prints require the highest caliber of preservation/conservation framing and it has been a great honor to be trusted with such valuable and fragile work. So, that’s how we first became involved with Shark’s. We framed their work to archival standards for the important print shows in places like Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Then, about 10 years ago, when 15th Street expanded the business to include a contemporary art gallery, one of the first exhibitions we hosted included work from Shark’s.

Since then, we have featured Bud Shark’s work in a number of exhibitions including one for Betty Woodman and another for Robert Kushner. Additionally, we underwrote the framing for their indomitable exhibition, “The Legend of Bud Shark” curated by the equally indomitable Cydney Payton at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. That was about a dozen or so years ago. So our relationship has evolved from framing (which we of course still do for Bud) to hosting exhibitions featuring his work. It’s safe to say, this business relationship is one of the most meaningful and rewarding associations 15th Street Gallery has in almost 33 years.

How 15th Street Gallery became involved with the Sharkive

The Eternal Flame by John Buck A little over a year ago, through a challenge grant from the Bebe and Crosby Kemper Foundation, The CU Art Museum was given the opportunity to acquire the Sharkive and ensure its long-term preservation and conservation as a learning resource for current and future students.

Under the competent leadership of Walt and Sheila Kemper Dietrich and CUAM director and chief curator, Sandra Firmin, a steering committee was formed to raise the additional funds needed for CU to acquire this treasure. An invitation was extended for either Rob or me to join this steering committee. Rob got his MA from CU, so he was the logical choice. So, he joined the committee. The support for this acquisition has been inspirational. It seems the whole arts community has come together to make it happen. The Boulder Museum of Art graciously hosted a gala evening, “The Night of The Sharkive”.

It was, as far as anyone can tell, unprecedented for one museum to host an event to support the acquisition of another museum. But, it happened. It was a beautiful evening where the outpouring of support for The Sharkive Acquisition was overwhelming.

How the exhibition “From the Flat Files of The Sharkive” came to be

We wanted to mount an exhibition that focused on the actual contents of The Sharkive: the prints and the correspondence. We compiled a collection of images of most of the work contained in The Sharkive. Then, one Saturday afternoon, Sandra Firmin, Rob and I had great fun going through these images selecting our favorites to be included in the exhibition. In total, we chose 30 prints to be exhibited.

Additionally, we selected a rich and fascinating assortment of preparatory materials, drawings, reference materials, color trial proofs and, perhaps most interesting of all, personal notes between artist and printer. All of this illuminates the artistic and the printmaking process. The intense collaboration that exists between artist and printer comes to life through these papers.

The Sharkive Exhibition

The Tugboat by Red Grooms The work started to arrive. Before we knew it, the gallery was full of astonishingly beautiful prints by such accomplished artists as Red Grooms, Betty Woodman, Enrique Chagoya, Roy De Forest, Don Ed Hardy, John Buck, Ana Marie Hernando and Clark Reichert. There are huge wood cut prints, 3-D hand-assembled lithographs, codices, sculptured and cut paper pieces, and even an elaborate hand-made and painted picture frame made by Roy De Forest which is around one of his amazing colored lithographs. We’re immeasurably proud of this exhibition.

The installation took us some time, but we can, in all truthfulness, say it was a labor of love. This is a rare opportunity to view some of the treasures in The Sharkive, some of our favorites.

Please stop by. The show runs thru June 17. Or better yet, please join us for a special talk by Bud Shark on Wednesday, June 7th, from 7 to 8:30 PM. Have some wine and hear Bud’s rich stories about making art in collaboration with these important artists.

We’d like to thank, Sandra Q. Firmin, the very amazing Director and Chief Curator of the CU Art Museum for helping us with this exhibition. Also, our heartfelt thanks to Roseanne Colachis from Shark’s Ink. for her unswerving support. Thanks also to our framing department, under the careful supervision of our master picture framer, Anthony Moulton, for the curatorial care and special picture framing skills required to conservation frame this exhibition of fragile works on paper.

And of course our deep thanks to Bud Shark for his trust in us to properly curate this important exhibition.

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