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Art shows exhibit printmaking techniques

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Master printer Susan Hover Oehme names her artwork using words from a language invented by her son and husband.

Words such as "bedoingle," "remantical" and "skidink" just sort of fit her art pieces, Oehme said.

"The words can mean any number if things, given the moment."

Oehme's drawings and paintings with monoprint collages are abstract. "They are almost like doodles," she said. "They lead me. I don't create them, they create themselves."

Oehme will display two series of her prints in the Small Works Gallery at the Depot Art Center. She also is judging the work of 37 printmakers from across the U.S. and Canada. Seven of those artists are from Steamboat Springs.

Printmaking is a labor-intensive process, Oehme said.

"Printmaking is a very technical way of working. You need a lot of education and knowledge to do it properly. There is a collaborative aspect of it that is much like a sculpture going to the foundry, where the sculptor is assisted in creating the piece."

Printers use five primary techniques, but there is a variety of subcategories within those techniques, Oehme said. The basic concept of printmaking involves transferring an image from one matrix to another.

"There are so many different kinds (of methods) that you can do just about anything with it," Oehme said. "An artist has to figure out which form of printmaking is best for them to get their intent across."

Oehme is a printmaking coach at Riverhouse Editions, a local publisher and printmaking workshop.

"It's a little gem in Steamboat that people don't know about," said Beth Banning, the visual arts director for the Steamboat Springs Arts Council.

Oehme will lead a tour of Riverhouse Editions at 1 p.m. Saturday after a gallery talk from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Depot.

At the gallery talk, artists will have an opportunity to discuss their prints and the content and ideas behind them.

"We like to encourage the artists to talk about this work. It is very technical, and they will be able to answer questions," Banning said. "It's a good educational opportunity."

Although printmaking can be very complicated, people can create prints at home.

"I had an artist who would create monotypes in her driveway with her car," Oehme said.

The artists in the show have submitted one to three original, limited-edition pieces for judging. There is $1,000 in prize money.

"I like to give the judge flexibility to decide how to divvy up the awards," Banning said.

Oehme will judge the prints based on the level of difficulty, the amount of time the artist put into the piece and how technical they are.

"As a printmaker, I am always fascinated with a print that I can't figure out technically," Oehme said. "It is mind-boggling how much time and the amount of work that goes into it."

Tonight's opening reception featuring Oehme's work and that of the other artists will feature live entertainment by the Afro Dance and Drum Ensemble. A food and a cash bar will be available.

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