Aztec gallery opening show by monoprint artist

Mike Easterling

FARMINGTON — Strange as it might sound, it is the randomness, the lack of control, that goes hand in hand with the process of monoprint making that Pagosa Springs, Colo., artist Ursala Hudson finds so appealing.

Pagosa Springs, Colo., artist Ursala Hudson's monoprints are the product of 30 to 40 hours of work each.

Monoprint making is a process by which the artist applies ink to Plexiglass, then presses a sheet of paper against it.

“It’s the uncertainty of how the ink is going to come out on the paper,” she said. “Sometimes you’ve got too much here, not enough there. It’s nerve racking. It’s whacky.”

Hudson will be showing her monoprints, and some paintings, in an exhibition called “Against the Grain” opening this weekend at ERA Art & Vintage in Aztec. She began exploring the print making process as a youngster, then dived into it in a big way when she was an art student at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo.

She studied monoprint making under an instructor there who made it clear he didn’t care for the medium, dismissing it as a lightweight art form because few artists spent more than an hour producing a piece.

“He really hated monoprints,” Hudson said. “And he was really hard on me. But he was probably the most helpful professor I’ve ever had because he made me nervous. He even made me cry.”

Ursala Hudson says the process of monoprint making provides her with an adrenaline rush.

Rather than be put off by that kind of feedback, Hudson used it as motivation. By the time she graduated from FLC with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, she found herself spending four to 10 hours on each of her monoprints. But even that kind of devotion paled compared to the 30 to 40 hours she routinely commits to her pieces these days.

ERA Art & Vintage owner Tirzah Camacho understands how rare it is to find an accomplished monoprint artist. She has a background in it herself, and she described the medium as punishing and unforgiving. Artists who have worked in the medium know how difficult it can be, Camacho said.

“There are not a lot of print makers around here that are masterful,” she said. “But her work is gorgeous.”

Camacho and Hudson met in early August, and Camacho said she was intrigued with Hudson’s work as soon as she laid eyes on it. She was delighted to find out later the two had a number of mutual friends.

She’s especially pleased to have found Hudson so early in her artistic career. Hudson has had only one other solo exhibition so far, a show at a Pagosa Springs coffeehouse this summer.

Hudson describes herself as a “youngish” artist and said she likes to experiment with art of different media.

Ursala Hudson's "Against the Grain" exhibition at ERA Art & Vintage will be just her second solo show.

“So I feel like I don’t really have a style yet,” she said by phone from Pagosa Springs last week.

Hudson will be displaying four of her oil paintings in this show, realistic pieces that lean heavily toward the chiaroscuro style with dark edges contrasting with bright centers.

But she acknowledged much of her focus of late has been on monoprint making, which she said has a literal handmade feel to it that she enjoys.

“I get a major adrenaline rush from it,” she said. “But I realize for other people, it’s not that exciting.”

What a lot of printmakers have in common, she said, is that their work isn’t about the end product.

“It’s about nerding out on the process,” she said, laughing.

Hudson said that process takes her back to her youth when she would take a piece of paper, fold it in half, pour ink of one side and press the two sides together. The outcome was always a surprise, she said.

“I always feel like a kid when I’m working on a monoprint,” Hudson said.

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

What: Opening reception for artist Ursala Hudson’s “Against the Grain” exhibition

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23

Where: ERA Art & Vintage, 103 Chaco St. in Aztec

For more information: Call 970-769-7492