Jim Sherraden—master printer and curator at Hatch Show Print—creates artwork, called monoprints, that are contemporary interpretations and celebrations of the wood blocks in Hatch Show Print’s collection. His work is available in Hatch Show Print’s Haley Gallery.
When Sherraden came to Hatch in the mid-1980s, he was enthralled by the shop's archive. Hatch's great niche, dating back to its first poster in 1879, has been its dedication to the production of show posters. The last family manager, Will T. Hatch (1886-1952), left a particular legacy of powerful woodblock images that helped define the look of country music during the 1940s and early 1950s.
So Jim set about to reprint, or "re-strike," the old hand-carved images carved to communicate about country music and the entire spectrum of American entertainment enterprises Hatch served over the years. This encompassed minstrel shows, circuses and carnivals, silent films and "talkies," auto and boat races, rodeos, and animal shows.
The monoprint artwork was born out of this process of printing and cleaning the wood blocks. According to Jim, “Anyone can stand behind a press, throw two woodblocks on top, and make a poster. You need to take it further and make it your own.
“The monoprints give me the opportunity to put my inky thumbprint on my tenure at Hatch Show Print," Sherraden says. What started, innocently enough, as a way to get ink off old woodblocks has evolved into a meticulous and labor-intensive art form. In 1986, after printing one of the beautiful 26-inch by 40-inch woodblocks onto archival paper, Sherraden ran old, thin sheets through the press to relieve the block of most of its ink. The "chance merging" of images was interesting, and the happenstance mingling of artwork was very popular at the time.
With specific themes in mind, Sherraden began to carefully play with and also enhance the existing woodblocks by carving new images like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and the "Eyes of Hatch" and “Mouths of Hatch” series. Often times these compositions are finished at his home studio, where he can quietly complete the multiple layers of color, the borders, and the gentle rubbing of even more ink into the paper. These works of art are thought of as tributes to the artists, and celebrate their relationship to the Hatch Show Print archive.
This new take on an old story was almost instantly successful. The ever-changing selection of monoprints by Jim Sherraden is available to view and purchase in the Haley Gallery.