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Winter Wonderland: Prints from the Collection of Norman and Judith Zlotsky
Clare Leighton, Limbing, 1931.

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA.-Over thirty American prints dating from the 1860 to 1960, selected from the collection of Norman and Judy Zlotsky, offer engaging insights into how artists have responded to the subject of winter and how printmaking developed in the United States following the Civil War. Among the earliest works on view are wood engravings created by Winslow Homer (1836-1910), who undertook a career as an illustrator prior to achieving success as a painter. The Old Farm House, an 1872 color lithograph by Currier and Ives, was also produced in a medium that allowed for large editions and was intended to reach mass audiences.

The expatriate artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) was influential in bringing renewed attention to etching as a fine art medium. American artists who traveled who were introduced to Whistler’s delicate compositions and careful attention to printing his small editions, were instrumental in the etching revival in this country in the 1880s. Images such as Morning Walk by Hamilton Hamilton (1836-1910) and Wayside Cottage by C. Jac Young reflect this renewed interest.

Among the artists featured in the exhibition is Kerr Eby (1889-1946), who was born in Japan to Canadian missionary parents. Eby, who began to etch soon after arriving in New York in 1907 to study, was likely largely self-taught as a printmaker. Among Eby’s defining experiences was his service as an ambulance driver in World War I, which resulted in the artist’s powerful series of drawings and prints of the horrors he witnessed. His subsequent travels in southern France and Algeria resulted in Eby using large areas of white in his compositions. Although initially inspired by the intense North African sun, Eby also effectively used the white paper to convey snow in many winter scenes he recorded of or near his home in Westport, Connecticut.

In contrast to Eby’s idyllic snow-covered landscapes, the labors of winter attracted the interest of English-born Clare Leighton (1886-1989). One of the most accomplished wood engravers of her era, Leighton, who worked in Baltimore and North Carolina prior to settling in Connecticut, was well-known as a book illustrator--for editions by Thomas Hardy and Emily Bronte, among others--and as an author. Leighton’s independent prints often depict life on farms or in logging camps, as in her 1931 wood engravings Logging and Limbing. Even her urban scenes, likewise characterized by striking juxtapositions of black and white, focus on labor—as in Snow Shovelers, New York.

By 1920, with the establishment of workshops to print fine art lithographs, American artists began to more thoroughly explore lithography, which had previously been viewed as a commercial medium. The ability to draw on the lithographic stone with crayons or liquid washes afforded artists considerable freedom in developing their images, as evidenced in White Pastures by John DeMartelly (1903-1979) and Winter Fun by Louis Lozowick (1892-1973).

Winter Wonderland features views depicting many parts of the United States—from California artist Roi Partridge’s 1927 etching Up North to Howard Cook’s wood engraving Morning Smokes, Taos Pueblo of the same year and Eugene Frandzen’s 1948 lithograph New England Snow. In his prints as well as his paintings, David City native Dale Nichols (1904-1995), who studied in Chicago and worked throughout the United States, used Nebraska scenes as his subjects. His lithograph Company for Supper offers a sensitively drawn snow scene, in contrast with the artist’s vibrant silkscreen, Coming Home, suggesting the range of Nichols’s engagement with the print media. Other artists whose work will be on view include Vera Adrus, Asa Cheffetz, Doris Lee, Charles Rockwell Kent, Charles Platt, and William S. Rice.

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