Oehme Graphics celebrates 10 years with Denver exhibit
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — To celebrate its 10th year of print making, Oehme Graphics — with director and master printer Sue Oehme at the helm — is heading down to Denver for a retrospective exhibition.
The exhibit, held at the Space Gallery’s Annex, will feature approximately 120 works from more than 45 artists who have been published by Oehme Graphics since it opened in Steamboat Springs in late 2010.
For the past 10 years, Sue Oehme has been working with internationally acclaimed artists to collaborate in print making and has quickly established her business as one of the country’s leading fine print publishers.
In addition to the retrospective show, Oehme will concurrently have a solo exhibition in the Space Gallery, about a mile away from its Annex. For this, Oehme will show nearly two dozen new works on paper, as well as three large scale installations.
The largest installation, at about 20 feet by 25 feet, is titled “All Our Lost Souls” and is made up of over 300 colored pieces of recycled materials.
“I started saving my recycling,” Oehme explained of her process. “My initial intention was to bring awareness to how much stuff we as consumers collect and then toss away.”
But in the process of doing this, Oehme was able to turn paper packaging into beautiful art.
What: Oehme Graphics 10th Anniversary Retrospective
When: Opening reception, 6 to 9 p.m. April 22; exhibition runs from April 22 to June 6
Where: Space Gallery Annex, 95 S. Cherokee St., Denver
What: Sue Oehme solo exhibition
When: Opening reception, 6 to 9 p.m. April 23; exhibition runs from April 23 to June 5
Where: Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive, Denver
“I’m very drawn to color,” she said. “I have the ability to look at packaging and see beauty in that.”
Each piece of recycling was coated on both sides with an acrylic medium, then inked multiple times in oil-based inks and printed on paper. It was then dried, sometimes for nearly a month, while the ink hardened. Oehme saved each of these pieces for the installation.
The pieces will be float-mounted to the wall in the shape of a graph showing coronavirus pandemic spikes.
“To me, this piece represents all the lives lost during the pandemic,” she explained.
The second installation, “Leave No Trace,” is comprised of more than 450 translucent colored shapes that are tied together in strands that will hang to the floor. Situated in front of the gallery’s floor-to-ceiling windows, the shapes will catch the light and will give off a shimmering glow.
The piece also features hundreds of bottle caps, tied together, which Oehme has been saving for years, although she didn’t know what for.
Referencing over-fishing, recycling and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Oehme hopes the piece will draw attention to these issues.
“I would say my work is subversively political,” she said. “There is always a blend of the balance of beauty of the piece and some kind of a message.”
Oehme said it’s a natural fit that she’s drawn to many different types of textures.
“I became interested in paper packaging materials when I broke down a muffin box one day. It had the cellophane window on top, and it was such an interesting shape with different tabs that fit together,” Oehme said. “I found it interesting that there is someone out in the world who designed that shape; it almost felt like we were collaborating together.”
While she occasionally has a definitive idea for a project, usually the final product appears as she’s working — a process that she is very comfortable with now.
“I’ve been an artist my whole life,” she said. “I went to art school and then moved to New York City. I started working as a printer and slowly worked my way up to becoming a master printer.”
Now, working with artists from all over the country, she is not only a master printer but also a master collaborator.
“The way I work with my artists is that I virtually have to start thinking like them and start absorbing how they would approach a problem,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been trained over so many years to do that and take on completely different types of artworks and styles and techniques.”
In the past decade of Oehme Graphics, she noted that while they are doing the printing process similarly to how they did it when they started, there have been many technological advances that have changed the print-making world.
“In a sense, the prints are different than something that was made 100 years ago, but the basic techniques are very similar and old-fashioned,” Oehme said.
And in the next 10 years? Oehme said she hopes to be doing the exact same thing — standing at her printing press and making art with great artists.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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Steamboat Creates is seeking local artists to participate in Project HOPE, a summer-long effort in which local students will help create impactful public art in the Steamboat Creative District.