Trees felled by mass transit line memorialized at Eugene library
Local artist Josh Krute documents the changes
1/10 – Josh Krute makes wood frames for his prints at the woodshop at the Campbell Community Center in Eugene. (Mary Jane Schulte/The Register-Guard)
Local artist Josh Krute is displaying a collection of his artwork at the Eugene Public Library.
“Pressing the Grain” will be on display for the months of September and October.
Krute creates unique prints from crosscut sections of trees, which highlight the many intricacies of the inside of a tree.
All of the cross-sections used for this exhibit were taken from trees that had been cut down because of the EmX expansion project.
“My primary goal is to document and memorialize the removed trees to preserve Eugene’s local history with a non-bias ecological visual representation,” Krute said.
The collection is on the second floor of the east wing of the library, 100 W. 10th Ave.
— Mary Jane Schulte
So it’s been forever since I’ve actually used this blog, but I started an awesome class this term that has me working on an awesome project. The class is Gateway 1/2 (an introductory Journalism class) and my project is a multifaceted, multimedia “thing” focusing on how changes in the lumber industry have/are impacting communities. I’m working with recording interviews, writing stories, taking pictures, and eventually I’ll be making a video.
This past week I spoke to an artist named Josh Krute. Josh is an awesome independent artist who makes incredible prints of slabs of wood. Using a traditional Chinese style that requires mulberry paper and a wooden spoon, Josh transfers the image of the wood onto the paper to make beautiful ink prints. These prints document not only the age rings of the tree, but sometime also marks from the chainsaw that cut the tree. Josh goal is to document the life of the tree during this time of transition: from a tree into furniture or something else. He hopes that his work causes people to think about what is going on with not only the lumber industry, but also trees in general. Each print is different and some even have personal touches added by Josh. Josh hopes to eventually create pieces that feature the wood from the tree in all of the elements (print, frame, paper maybe?).
The piece Josh was working on while I was talking with him was a slab from an elm tree. He began by burning the top of the wood to bring out the details. He then coated it in ink before he began the transfer process. Transferring the ink took about 40 minutes, but it can take much longer depending on the size and character of the wood. I decided I don’t have the patience to ever make a print like this myself.
In addition to making incredible work of his own, Josh also works for a company here in Eugene called Urban Lumber Co., which takes trees that have been removed by the city and turns them into incredible furniture.
P.S. Josh critiqued the hell out of this print. I think it’s awesome and looks like something out of Star Trek.
P.P.S. I’ll try to be better about posting from now on…but we’ll see how that goes…
Man Vs. Nature
Printmaker Josh Krute exposes the internal art of wood
ARTICLE | MAY 2, 2013 - 1:00AM | BY ALEX NOTMAN
‘The Oregon Trail,’ 8 ft. by 4 ft.
Slabs of redwood, spalted maple, black walnut and butternut — these are printmaker Josh Krute’s inspiration and tools, but it all started with driftwood found at Colorado’s Blue Mesa Reservoir.
“I just started collecting pieces of driftwood and printing them because I liked the smooth but weathered texture,” the Colorado native says. Krute explains that this experiment of printing with wood revealed delicate grain patterns in the ink, and these pieces of wood became “beautiful art objects.” With these finished artworks — large-scale framed prints — Krute has a goal: “Show the dichotomy of manmade marks and marks made by nature. It tells you a story for each piece — what it’s been through. It acts like a photograph in that it represents a specific time or moment.” These moments frozen in time will be hanging on the walls of the Urban Lumber Company’s Eugene showroom for May’s First Friday ArtWalk.
Krute, who moved to Eugene two years ago, now has access to all sorts of discarded and recycled wood at his day job building furniture in Urban Lumber’s Springfield workshop. He often scavenges the recycled wood dumpster at work in search of his next objet d’art, or goes into Oregon’s great outdoors to “find wood that has been cut with manmade machines like a chainsaw.”
‘Untitled,’ 4 ft. by 5 ft.
Once he has found the perfect block, Krute puts on a coat of polyurethane or shellac to keep the wood from absorbing all the ink. Then he uses the wood as any printmaker uses a plate: He applies ink with a roller and prints to paper (a mulberry paper because it’s more flexible to the undulations of the wood).
The effect is a beautifully abstracted, minimalist study in contour line, allowing knots, growth rings, grain patterns and saw marks to tell the story of one tree’s existence.
Opening reception with Josh Krute at 6 pm Friday, May 3, at Urban Lumber, 28 E. Broadway
FLUX LOCAL ARTIST SERIES: A GRAIN OF TRUTH
Everything changed when Josh Krute saw a certain piece of driftwood in Colorado.
At the time, Krute was scrambling in his search of his senior thesis topic. He was in Blue Mesa Reservoir when he found it—the driftwood that gave him a thesis and a new direction for his art.
“I was using the metaphor that in life, people are influenced by their surroundings and their environment, just like a piece of driftwood,” Krute says. “But it still holds true to its grain or itself. So that’s what my thesis kind of became—about identity and about self.”
Krute, now twenty-five, discovered printmaking in college, where he originally emphasized in painting. On its own, printmaking is a labored process. But when it’s a piece of wood that’s being printed, the challenge becomes different entirely.
The first step is finding a piece of wood that looks like it would have an interesting texture. Next, depending on its type and shape, Krute may have to build a form around it to hold it in place. He then shellacs the wood to help prevent its pores from clogging—clogged pores mean less registration (definition) on the printed paper. After shellacking, Krute inks the wood with a roller and then hand presses the paper onto the inked wood with a wooden spoon, a process that takes a couple hours. Finally, if all goes well, he removes the paper and lets it hang-dry for two weeks before preserving it.
Sound complicated? It is. Even Krute, who began printing pieces of wood in 2010, still struggles with it. The paper may rip part of the way through the process or he may finish a print only to discover that the ink is too saturated in many spots, thus blurring and obstructing the markings. It’s stressful, but it doesn’t deter him from wanting to continue creating this kind of art.
For Mary Hood, an associate professor at Arizona State University specializing in printmaking and digital technologies, the allure of printmaking will never fade, just as it won’t for Krute.
“We’re just scratching the surface,” Hood says. “It’s an exciting field to kind of keep an eye on because the pulse of printmaking is always beating. So [printmakers] are always looking for new ways to challenge themselves and challenge the medium and new ways to integrate a host of aesthetics into the processes.”
Regardless of how the digital age is shaping the practice, printmaking has always been about moments in space and time. Before photography, printmaking was a way to capture an image, and Krute continues to go back to this idea in the prints he creates.
“I think one of the most important things in my work for this series is that they’re kind of a representation of a moment of the piece of wood’s life or existence,” Krute says. “Printmaking for me kind of acts like a photo in that it captures a moment specifically in its existence.”
Capturing a piece of wood in a specific moment means it might have the swooping marks of a chainsaw, the smooth stroke of a wood miser, or the harsh cuts of a chisel. But it also means seeing the wood’s grain patterns and growth rings, the life it lived before people came along. The relationship between the two is important for Krute and key to understanding his art. Sure, the prints show interesting textures, but for those who understand it, it is so much more.
“It’s hard to hear people say, ‘Oh, that’s just a piece of wood that you printed. Anyone can do that.’ They don’t quite get the steps it takes to create something like that,” Krute says. “When you’ve worked with something for a long time, you automatically establish a relationship with it and you kind of nurture it. You take your time with it and it turns out to be something nice and worthwhile.”
Krute’s prints, which are displayed at the Urban Lumbar Co. gallery in Eugene, Oregon, have clearly been nurtured. The craftsmanship is apparent in all of his work, even in the frames, which were laboriously designed by Krute and made by hand.
With the release of his first series, Krute already has ideas for his next installment. He wants to continue printing wood, but might experiment with color or adding some of his own carvings into the design. While he isn’t quite sure where he’s going, he’s certain art will remain an important part of his life.
“In this day and age, the craftsmanship of art and how people communicate is really fast paced,” Krute says. “For me, doing these prints by hand and pulling them by hand, it’s really about giving back to the old days. I just really find the value of doing things by hand.”
It started with a piece of driftwood in Colorado. Three years later, Krute has found his niche and doesn’t look like he’ll be leaving it anytime soon.
Hard Days Work part 2
And a few hours later…
OMFG! My *worst modeling day just became my*best modeling day thanks to SOU student Josh Krute.
Alice Cooper and Queen didn’t hurt either.
Josh is (an Art major?) in his Senior year from Colorado Springs, CO. He’s staying in Ashland through this next semester. He’s mellow like butter and paints like a like a ninja master. He hired me for his drawing final.Wannabes take note: Josh arrived on time, cash in hand, multiple canvases prepped and dry. He’d already cleared use of the room, and made sure there were heaters, blankets and extension cords.
It took a few minutes to set everything up, so we talked about his work. It didn’t hurt that Scorpions, Queen, Zeppelin and The Who played on Alice Cooper’s evening radio show. Josh is very go-with-the flow. He pretty much let me do “my” thing. I moved intuitively until something clicked and he’d stay there for a bit. When he was done I’d move again. Once I went back and held a move that had started as a quick gesture. For the last piece I stayed in a comfortably contorted, half reclined, half twisted position. The minutes flew by. It was wicked fun. We managed to quit right before Bon-Jovi came on.
*Note to self -classic rock & painting is a no brainer….DO THIS MORE OFTEN! And follow Mr Krute’s career. F*CK YES. I believe he is going places. I hope he hires me again along the way! Contact Josh @ 719-338-8265 or firstname.lastname@example.org