The valley's printmaking community will stage its first Ashland Print Fair this weekend, offering the public an opportunity to meet and chat with the artists and get a demonstration of how the medium is created.

The valley's printmaking community will stage its first Ashland Print Fair this weekend, offering the public an opportunity to meet and chat with the artists and get a demonstration of how the medium is created.

The show will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at the Ashland Community Center, 59 Winburn Way. It will feature hundreds of prints for sale by 21 local students, teachers and professional artists, along with demonstrations of how they make intaglio, Japanese woodblock and relief prints.

"It's a great chance to purchase affordable monoprints, etchings and lithographs and to get a great buy directly from the artist," says artist Denise Kester, who will sell prints starting at $10.

"The nice thing is that you can get the beauty of fine art at a much less expensive price than an original painting," says printmaker and event organizer Midge Black. Many prints will sell in the $25 to $50 range, some as greeting cards, bookmarks and fridge magnets.

Black will show a digital print from a photo called "Ghost Dance," a print of a car-choked landscape signifying that "the age of the automobile is exhausted." There are 10 copies and each will sell for $50.

Tiffany Allen will market three copies of her "Reach," a waterless lithograph showing her brother stretching out an arm in silhouette, with an echo image of the same thing behind it.

Printmaking is a highly social event, with experienced artists teaching neophytes and all sharing new discoveries and trading prints among themselves, says Southern Oregon University printmaking teacher Tracy Templeton.

Among her prints will be "Something Much More Here," a photo-mechanical etching.

Many people don't realize that some of history's great artists, including Rembrandt, Degas and Worhol, were experienced printmakers before they became famous painters, says Black.

"The art department is putting out a new generation of printmakers in this valley and it's nice to have them working side-by-side with the old printmakers," says Templeton, singling out printmaker and longtime (now emeritus) professor Lyle Matoush, who will show his works at the fair.

"There's something really romantic about prints, some kind of special beauty, a smokiness — there's no way to replicate it (in painting) — and it's such a social, communal activity," says printmaker Mary Hills of Jacksonville.

Other artists in the free showing are Gretchen Addison, Bruce Bayard, Julie Bedford, Barbara Bruckman, Deon Jenkins, Alex Falenstein, Jess Gleasman, Shane Hark, Apple Lemmon, Nancy Jo Mullen, Walt Padgett, Marina Soto, Carolyn Tucker, Curran Wong and Jeonghan Yun.

For those who don't know much about printmaking, here's a glossary:

Monoprint: a unique print made from a lithograph, etching or woodcut by use of ink, paint, college or other method, for one printing, maybe two.

Relief print: a woodcut or other matrix, with ink or paint applied to the raised portion and the cut-away or negative portion producing no image.

Intaglio print: same as a relief print, but the whole matrix is inked, then the raised part is wiped free of ink or paint, so it prints only the negative space.

For more information, call 488-7163.

Reach freelance writer John Darling at jdarling@jeffnet.org.