University of Colorado Boulder press release

A world-renowned and historically important collection of artistic prints that has captured the imagination of artists and art lovers worldwide has officially found a home at the University of Colorado Art Museum in Boulder.

The Sharkive is a distinguished collection comprising more than 40 years of printmaking collaborations between renowned artists and Shark’s Ink of Lyons, Colorado. The nearly $1.35 million acquisition is made possible by donations from many arts patrons; the College of Arts and Sciences; and $750,000 from the Kemper Family Foundations, UMB Bank.

“The Sharkive embodies the strength and vitality of the arts today and is a treasure for the entire community,” said University of Colorado Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “Through this significant acquisition, we are ensuring the long-term preservation of Shark Ink’s innovative legacy and providing a learning resource for our students.”

The Sharkive adds to more than 8,500 objects in the museum’s collection, and represents the wide range of materials used in the creation of art. While a full-scale exhibition of the Sharkive isn’t scheduled until 2021, a few limited-edition prints are on view this month, and patrons, students and staff will be able to make an appointment to view works in the museum’s collection study center, or online, in coming months.

“We are beyond thrilled to have acquired this amazing visual feast that demonstrates incredible technical skill, collaboration and creativity. We want to celebrate the donors who made this possible,” Museum Director Sandra Firmin said. “The collection represents Colorado’s cultural heritage and will strengthen our state’s increasingly influential position as a hub for the creation and study of contemporary American art.”

The collection covers the printmaking process from beginning to end, including over 700 signed limited-edition prints and more than 2,000 related materials including artist studies, trial proofs, unique proofs with paper alternatives and artist and printer’s notes and correspondence.

The Shark story
In 1976, master printer Bud Shark and his wife, Barbara, opened Shark’s Lithography in downtown Boulder as a creative destination where more than 160 artists from the United States and Europe collaborated and inspired each other in printmaking. The couple relocated the studio to Lyons and renamed it Shark’s Ink in the late 1990s.

Notable artists who have worked with the studio include: John Buck, Enrique Chagoya, Red Grooms, Jane Hammond, Robert Kushner, Hung Liu and Betty Woodman.

“We’re really thrilled about it,” said Bud Shark, a former visiting artist at CU Boulder. “From the very beginning when we started putting work into an archive CU was our first thought and our first choice for where we would like it to go, partly because I had had a close connection with CU when we first moved to Boulder.”

“We really wanted it to be in a learning institution, accessible for students to study and look at and hopefully be inspired by.”

A seed is sown
Walter Dietrich, former chairman of the CU Art Museum Advisory Board and former deputy director of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, and his wife, Sheila Kemper Dietrich, spearheaded the fundraising effort.

“When considered as a whole, this is a very monumental collection for the art world in general, and for printmaking specifically. It really is quite a coup for the university to be able to acquire, and house, and make the most of it for students, the community, Colorado and the art scene at large,” Kemper Dietrich said. “There is really no print collection this comprehensive, quite frankly, anywhere.”

Kemper Dietrich said the Sharks’ willingness to be engaged with students and ongoing education around entrepreneurship and the arts makes the acquisition that much more special.

“There is the additional opportunity to tap the brains of these very talented people who created a business,” she said. “You often think of being an artist as a struggle. The Sharks brought passion and the ability to make a livelihood in Lyons, Colorado. It’s remarkable.”

Prints made in collaboration with Shark’s Ink are in numerous private and public collections around the country, including: the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; the Library of Congress and Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City; and many others.

“Colorado is an important cog in the American art wheel,” wrote Mark Pascale, curator of prints and drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, in a letter supporting the acquisition. “And so, the time is right to transfer the cultural patrimony produced by one of your adopted gems, Bud Shark, to an educational facility with the desire and bandwidth to protect, interpret, and make it available to a broader public.”