Jim Sherraden—manager, curator, and chief designer of Hatch Show Print—created the monoprints in our online catalog.
Hatch's great niche, dating from its first poster in 1879, has been its dedication to the production of show posters. The last family manager, Will T. Hatch (1886-1952), left a particular legacy of powerful woodblock images that helped define the look of country music during the 1940s and early 1950s.
When Sherraden came to Hatch in the mid-1980s, he was enthralled by the shop's archive. He set about to reprint, or "re-strike," the old hand-carved images that derived from country music and the entire spectrum of American entertainment enterprises Hatch served over the years. This encompassed minstrel shows, circuses and carnivals, silent film and "talkies," auto and boat races, rodeos, and animal shows.
Anyone can stand behind a press, throw two woodblocks on top, and make a poster. You need to take it further and make it your own.
"The monoprints give me the opportunity to put my inky thumbprint on my tenure as manager at Hatch Show Print," Sherraden says. What started, innocently enough, as a way to get ink off old woodblocks has evolved into a highly specialized art form. In 1986, after printing one of the beautiful 26-inch by 40-inch woodblocks onto archival paper, Sherradan ran old, thin sheets through the press to relieve the block of most of its ink. The "chance merging" of images was interesting, and the happenstance mingling of artwork was very popular at the time.
With specific themes in mind, Sherradan began to carefully play with and also enhance the existing woodblocks by carving new images like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and the "Eyes of Hatch" series. These new prints were almost instantly successful.
Often times these compositions are finished at Sherradan's home studio, where he can quietly complete the multiple layers of color, the borders, and the gentle rubbing of the ink into the paper. These works of art are thought of as tributes to the artists, and celebrate their relationship to the Hatch archive.