By Published: Sept. 7, 2022

Banner image:​​Onward and Upward (installation view), CU Art Museum, Sept. 6, 2022–July 2023. (Credit: Wes Magyar, © CU Art Museum)

Onward and Upward: Shark's Ink

Open now through July 2023
Tuesday–Saturday,10 a.m.–4 p.m.
CU Art Museum, free admission

Shark’s Ink Open House

Come celebrate the CU Art Museum’s newest exhibition with breakfast, music and fun. Create your own art, and meet Bud and Barbara Shark, exhibit curator Hope Saska, and local artists in the show. The event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, Sept. 10
10 a.m.–noon
CU Art Museum

After a delay in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CU Art Museum is opening a colorful and engaging exhibition showcasing one of the most comprehensive printmaking collections in the country: .

This massive collection, produced by Bud Shark of Shark’s Ink printmaking studio in Lyons, was acquired by the university in 2018. Selections from the Sharkive featured in the show tell the story of the Shark’s studio and the many famous artists they worked with, visualize the process of printmaking and celebrate the variety of artistic visions brought to life through many layers of carefully applied ink.

“To have this collection at CU is really wonderful because it recognizes the way CU fits into the art community of Boulder," said Hope Saska, exhibition curator and chief curator and director of academic engagement at the CU Art Museum. “And because of the range of materials in the Sharkive, there's just tremendous educational value.”

Bright colors, distinctive textures and playful narratives will greet viewers as they explore the exhibition. The exhibit features the work of 30 artists through 33 prints on display utilizing a variety of printmaking techniques—from lithography to woodcuts—in addition to multimedia collage work, the Shark’s guest books and various tools of the trade.

On Sept. 10, the public is invited to an open house breakfast with music, artmakingand the chance to mingle with Bud and Barbara Shark and local artists who have work on display in the show. Saska also encourages visitors to return for several additional public events to take place this fall in the galleries, highlighting local printmakers.

“It has been an exhibition occupying my thoughts since we acquired it in 2018,” Saska said. “We have been working for quite a while on it,so it's thrilling to finally be able to share it.”

​​Onward and Upward installation at the CU Art Museum

Onward and Upward (installation view), CU Art Museum, Sept. 6, 2022–July 2023. (Credit: Wes Magyar, © CU Art Museum)

Process and people

In the simplest of terms, prints are images that are reproduced, usually on a printing press, according to Saska. In the case of an original print, many of which are featured in the show, only about 30 to 50 prints of an artwork are ever produced through a collaboration between artist and printmaker.

Pedro Caceres, exhibitions preparator, framing prints for the Onward and Upward exhibit at the CU Art Museum

Pedro Caceres, exhibitions preparator, framing prints for Onward and Upward: Shark's Ink, CU Art Museum, Sept. 6, 2022–July 2023. (Credit: Elizabeth van der Marck-Gregg, © CU Boulder)

Viewers will notice a core of artworks in the middle of the gallery that highlight processes of printmaking. These works, by artists Jane Hammond, Hiroki Morinoue, Barbara Takenaga, Red Grooms, Enrique Chagoya and Hung Liu, showcase the materials involved, and how the different layers of line and color build up to form a final image.

In addition, a video in the back gallery shows part of the process in motion as Bud Shark applies a layer of red ink to a print—the final version of which hangs next to the screen.

Master printer Bud Shark founded Shark’s Lithography in downtown Boulder in 1976 with his wife and fellow artist, Barbara. Shark’s Ink, which relocated to Lyons in 1998, would become not only a celebrated Colorado printmaking studiobut a destination as one of America’s premier printmaking studios, as the art form experienced a renaissance in the last quarter of the 20th century. Shark has collaborated with more than 150 artists and produced hundreds of editions and thousands of prints over the past 46 years.

“We think about Bud Shark as an artist and a printmaker, but he’s also really masterful at building relationships with other artists and thinking about finding the right kind of combination of people to work with. He's super curious and inventive,” said Saska. “Shark’s Ink is beloved by the local art community, but they're also beloved and valued by the larger national and even international art community.”

In 2018, the CU Art Museum acquired the signed archival impression of every original Shark’s Ink print, a complete Shark’s Ink collection dubbed the “Sharkive.” These 750 original artworks, more than 2,000 related materials and all future works comprised a nearly $1.35 million acquisition, one of the university’s biggest art purchases to date.

Museum Director Sandra Firmin described it as “one of the most intact, comprehensive collections of its kind.”

Prints made in collaboration with Shark’s Ink are held by numerous private and public collections from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to the Art Institute of Chicago. But now, many of them are finally on display close to where they were created.