Man Vs. Nature

Printmaker Josh Krute exposes the internal art of wood

‘The Oregon Trail,’ 8 ft. by 4 ft.

Slabs of redwood, spalted maple, black walnut and butternut — these are printmaker Josh Krute’s inspiration and tools, but it all started with driftwood found at Colorado’s Blue Mesa Reservoir.

“I just started collecting pieces of driftwood and printing them because I liked the smooth but weathered texture,” the Colorado native says. Krute explains that this experiment of printing with wood revealed delicate grain patterns in the ink, and these pieces of wood became “beautiful art objects.” With these finished artworks — large-scale framed prints — Krute has a goal: “Show the dichotomy of manmade marks and marks made by nature. It tells you a story for each piece — what it’s been through. It acts like a photograph in that it represents a specific time or moment.” These moments frozen in time will be hanging on the walls of the Urban Lumber Company’s Eugene showroom for May’s First Friday ArtWalk.

Krute, who moved to Eugene two years ago, now has access to all sorts of discarded and recycled wood at his day job building furniture in Urban Lumber’s Springfield workshop. He often scavenges the recycled wood dumpster at work in search of his next objet d’art, or goes into Oregon’s great outdoors to “find wood that has been cut with manmade machines like a chainsaw.”

‘Untitled,’ 4 ft. by 5 ft.

Once he has found the perfect block, Krute puts on a coat of polyurethane or shellac to keep the wood from absorbing all the ink. Then he uses the wood as any printmaker uses a plate: He applies ink with a roller and prints to paper (a mulberry paper because it’s more flexible to the undulations of the wood).

The effect is a beautifully abstracted, minimalist study in contour line, allowing knots, growth rings, grain patterns and saw marks to tell the story of one tree’s existence.

Opening reception with Josh Krute at 6 pm Friday, May 3, at Urban Lumber, 28 E. Broadway

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