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‘INK’ Invitational at SHY RABBIT hailed as a must-see

SHY RABBIT opened its prestigious “INK” Invitational Saturday to an enthusiastic group of local and out-of-town visitors, who hailed it as a “must see” for serious art lovers.

This group exhibit continues through Sunday, Nov. 6, featuring 87 original works of art by a select group of advanced Printmaking without a Press” participants, invited for exhibition by professional artist and SHY RABBIT workshop instructor D. Michael Coffee.

The “INK” Invitational artists were selected for their thoughtful approach to the printmaking process, and for the unexpected and unusual method they incorporated while creating their original prints and mixed media works.

The featured artists are: Juanita Ainsley, Colo.; Sandy Applegate, Colo.; Debra Blair, N.M.; Marti Bledsoe, Tex.; Lal Echterhoff, Colo.; Ruth Fiege, Colo.; Gail Hershey, Colo.; and Maureen May, Colo.

“Printmaking without a Press” utilizes a unique hand-pressed printmaking process called “Reductive Ink,”™ designed and developed by Coffee over 25 years ago.

Since being introduced to the public in 2007 as part of the WORK-shops@SHY RABBIT Program, “Printmaking without a Press” has developed into one of SHY RABBIT’s most popular and regularly attended workshops, drawing in participants from throughout the country, while attracting widespread attention and notoriety.

Coffee is continuously surprised and impressed by the quality and creativity of the work that is produced during the printmaking workshops, and believes that the crossover of different mediums lends itself to even wider ranging results.

This week’s featured artist, Gail Hershey, has been a potter all of her adult life, and is now a printmaker as well.

As a highly-regarded Pagosa Springs’ teacher and a maker of art, tuning in while staying in the process of making the work helps her to maintain a balanced life.

“My work is about my journey as a person out in the world,” states Hershey. “It is also a reflection of my inner life to various degrees.

“It binds the necessary tension, the understanding and the flow, which enables me to stay productive and interested.”

Hershey feels that the process of paper and ink keeps her “in the present,” as the ongoing work is changeable, fluid, and can be modified at almost any point of creation.

“The body of work that you see here is a culmination of the discovery process of learning an unfamiliar technique, coupled with tapping into my own savings account of skills and intuition.

“Not unlike working in clay, there are surprises, which I like.”

The versatility and immediacy of this printmaking process works very well with Hershey’s personal style, which is somewhat impulsive and optimistic.

The colors that she chooses are first and foremost ones that appeal to her sensibilities, but are sometimes used to grab the viewer’s attention or to make a point.

Hershey often integrates a small amount of one color or another to help balance out the composition.

She also visualizes colors to create an atmosphere that will draw the viewer in, such as with teals and violets. Red on black is also a powerful combination that appears in several of her prints.

Hershey was inspired to create prints on the same day that an incredible lightning storm hit the area, resulting in her personal visions of the weather, geographic strata, electricity and the intense color that were present.

“The Perseids” was made on two days when a highly touted meteor shower occurred. This meteor shower gets the name “Perseids” because it appears to radiate from the constellation Perseus. Considered to be the most famous of all meteor showers, it provided an impressive display, and also served as the inspiration for Hershey’s beautifully-colored print.

All of Hershey’s “Canyon” images are a means for describing her memories and admiration for the earth.

“Rafting or driving through the rock formations — trying to absorb the immensity, uncomprehending but grateful, then ultimately allowing these impressions to travel via my heart and soul to the paper.

“It is my intention to continue with this work, in a playful and mobile manner”.”

“By conducting myself in this specified way and playing fair, I conjure abstract but recognizable images with balanced units that move independently when stirred by the breeze”, Hershey concludes.

Additional information about featured artists will appear in future PREVIEW articles.

SHY RABBIT Contemporary Arts is located at 333 Bastille Drive; two blocks north of U.S. 160, off of North Pagosa Boulevard, west of the City Market complex.

The 4,000 square-foot art complex houses a fine art gallery AND working ceramic studio, two mixed-media workshops and rotating exhibition spaces.

SHY RABBIT is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at no charge, and evenings by appointment. Ample parking is available in front of the building.

For more information on SHY RABBIT, visit or call 731-2766.

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