‘It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”
At the ripe old age of 29, I’ve realized that this axiom holds some truth. Personally, I prefer to get somewhere on my own merit, but once in a while, you need someone else’s help to make things happen.
Take, for example, our new exhibition, “The Floating World,” which opens tomorrow. On special loan from Purdue University are 13 historical ukiyo-e prints from the university’s permanent collection, “The Floating World.”
Crooked Tree is able to host these impressive works because our galleries director, Liz Erlewine, happens knows some people at Purdue. Before coming to CTAC in 2018, Erlewine served as Galleries Director at Purdue, where she curated and organized exhibitions.
She has a BFA in printmaking, painting and drawing from U of M and therefore knows quite a bit about the art form and its history. But, as stated above, it’s not always about the knowledge one possesses. The friendships and relationships one cultivates personally and professionally are just as important.
“The Floating World” collection is not a traveling show. Erlewine’s connection to Purdue enabled CTAC to present these traditional woodblock prints of the floating world from Japan’s Edo Period.
The phrase “the floating world” describes the new economy and social ambitions of the common people and growing merchant class during the aforementioned period of Japan’s history. The art of this period specifically focuses on the frivolous and mundane, showcasing scenes of pleasure pursuits and everyday life.
CTAC, in turn, has the pleasure of presenting select prints by significant Japanese artists of both the Edo and Meiji periods, including Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai. Hokusai is the artist behind the immensely popular woodblock print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” This commonly replicated print won’t be at CTAC, but seeing other prints by an artist of Hokusai’s standing is quite an honor.
In conjunction with this exhibition is a complementary, contemporary one. “Original: Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Prints” is a diverse collection of 64 prints by artists working in the U.S., showcasing an assortment of printmaking processes, including woodcut, wood engraving, intaglio, lithography and silkscreen.
Through the historic woodblock prints on loan from Purdue and these fresh takes on the art of printmaking, CTAC’s fall exhibits — on display through Nov. 14 — create an introduction to the art form and a connection between past and present. Showing new works near historic ones emphasizes the rich history and continued relevance of printmaking.
Thankfully, Erlewine retained a good relationship with her previous employer, which allows us to present the works of printmaking masters, in tandem with new creations. Viewers have the unique chance to see centuries-old, original Japanese prints up close and personal; an opportunity that does not come around every day in northern Michigan.
Be glad you know us; otherwise, you might’ve missed out on this experience.