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Mountain Bear Ink
THE PHILOSOPHY: An indication of an aware and responsible society is its concern for vulnerable and aesthetic values. Wildness, wildlife, and wilderness are such values, and their appreciation and preservation are ecologically and culturally significant aspects of current affairs. Montague's activities in art, writing, and university teaching have centered ultimately on fostering environmental awareness and ecological consciousness. The foundation of his artwork is the ink image-- usually in the form of a carefully rendered pen-and-ink drawing or a hand-lettered paragraph. His goal, in this fast-paced, quickly changing, more complicated world, is to offer a revitalizing link to our ecological context-- Nature. THE DRAWINGS: The endangered tradition of creating images in ink with pen is a discipline of many demands. The medium, in all its black and white starkness, requires much, and there is little room for error. Furthermore, the artist states, "The greatest challenge is producing the effects of form, space, texture, and color merely by making black marks on white paper." Montague accomplishes these feats by painstakingly deliberate stippling and intricate cross-hatching. Some drawings have taken more than 200 hours to complete. The plants and animals come alive, and the habitats grow in space and detail as each ink dot and line is applied. The finished work becomes a window to the natural world. THE LIMITED EDITION PRINTS: Fred Montague prints most of his editions on a 1913 Golding hand-fed, platen letterpress. He prints some of his drawings from engraved plates. He learned printing by doing it-- after a printer-friend in Indiana gave him a vintage press. Montague moved the massive cast iron antique to his Utah studio from his Indiana studio in 1992. Printing is an interesting craft, and few people who create their own ink drawings print them on letterpress presses. The interplay between paper texture, ink density, image detail, and image pattern all come together as the large balance wheel spins and the platen holding the paper closes against the inked plate. The resulting embossed impression, almost carving-like, literally adds another dimension to the graphic work. He also uses this printing press to print his limited-edition woodcuts. He carves the woodcut masters from maple blanks that he modifies to fit the printing press.