Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Hubbard Studio Open House and Printmaking Event to Fund Further Restoration


The Hubbard Studio and Preserve.
This is going to be fun. And it’s going to result in a piece of Fort Thomas art that you will want to own.

The Harland Hubbard Studio and Nature Preserve will hold a special open house educational event on Saturday, October 13 at the Hubbard Studio from 12:00 - 4:00 where you can can press your own Hubbard inspired woodblock art piece ($20 donation) hand carved by regional artist, Ken Swinson,
who will guide you through the printing process. The event is free but donations will go toward the next phase of studio restoration.  The event is sponsored by the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy that is restoring the studio.
Ken Swinson sketches the studio on a recent visit.

Attending a Swinson printmaking workshop is a lot of fun. He’s a genial guide and patient teacher as he walks you through the printmaking process. And you can see the fun and whimsy in his work. Swinson is a popular artist who is often sought by community groups to lead an artistic venture. His work is distinctive yet you can see Hubbard’s influence. In fact, for this event he is following Hubbard’s artistic lead in creating an image that captures the essence of the studio and Fort Thomas.

In addition there will be music, a beekeeper to talk about the Hubbard bees, a Hubbard reenactor, as well as Hubbard prints for sale.


So here’s the back story. Hubbard is known as Kentucky’s Thoreau because he and his wife lived an isolated life far from the trappings of modern civilization for forty years. He developed his artistic talent as wells his philosophy in the Fort Thomas studio that that he built from reclaimed materials. The building, on the National Register of Historic Places, has a fascinating history but it was here where Hubbard developed his ideas about his relationship to nature, sustainability, and solidified his plans to raft the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.



Ken Swinson poses next to Paul Stegeman photos in the Hubbard Studio.
Afterwards he settled in Payne Hollow, built a house from locally sourced materials, and lived a most sophisticated and rustically elegant life without electricity and running water. A number of Fort Thomas residents regularly visited Hubbard to help him as well as to learn from him. Films have been made about him, songs have been written about him, and art has been created that has been influenced by Hubbard’s ideals and actions. He was recognized with a lifetime achievement award by one Kentucky governor and is also in the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.  And it all began in the little studio in the center of Fort Thomas.

The Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy (FTFC) now oversees the studio and surrounding woods. They have been restoring the studio to create an environmental experience center and have hosted elementary and high school students, artists, area historic and preservation organizations, and university classes. They are making plans to host writers, artists, and musicians as well. It’s a place in the center of the city where a person can get in touch with the natural world on a different level than a park. It’s a place to be inspired.
Hubbard and Swinson hang next to each other in a Fort Thomas home. 
You may have seen Swinson’s work at his studio in the Pendleton Art Center or various at fairs.
Ken Swinson readily admits that Hubbard was an influence. He was inspired to pursue making woodcuts when he read Bill Caddell’s book cataloging Hubbard’s woodblock works. For those who do not know, the image must be carved in reverse so when it is inked and pressed it presents a positive image.

Swinson says, “Ten years ago I bought the book about Harlan Hubbard’s woodcuts and it inspired me to pursue printmaking. And ten years later I’m printing more than ever. His whole life has been inspirational. He lived beautifully whether it was the shanty boat, Payne Hollow, or here [in the studio].” He thinks Hubbard’s life was a work of art.

If you have ever printed from a woodcut then you know how it feels when Swinson says, “It’s exciting! It’s like magic to pull the paper up and see the print for the first time.” 

A Ken Swinson original woodcut print.

This unique print that will be unveiled that day will include the studio and some special Hubbard touches that reveal the spirit of the man, his legacy, and his place in Fort Thomas history. You can reserve your print for a $20 donation by emailing ftfcky@gmail.com or you can purchase and press yours on the day of the event. The Hubbard Studio and Preserve is located at 129 Highland Avenue.  So stop by for a pleasant afternoon.

        Woodcut printing with Ken Swinson
        Harlan Hubbard Studio and Nature Preserve
     129 Highland Avenue
        Saturday, October 13: 12:00 - 4:00 (no rain date)
       Original woodcuts print is a $20 donation.

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