PEQUOT LAKES, Minn. — Thousands of people attending the just-concluded Minnesota State Fair picked up a free postcard at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum on the fairgrounds that depicts a walleye reading the Pineandlakes Echo Journal while drinking a cup of coffee with a worm dangling from a hook in front of it.
The image is courtesy of Shark Shredder, an artist who moved to Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, this summer. Asked to create a design with the only criteria that it has something to do with a newspaper and the community she lives in, Shredder researched her new hometown. She came up with her design that features the local newspaper and the official state fish.
“It has a gnarly look, so it’s fun. An old-timer walleye drinking coffee … I thought it would be kind of a fun thing,” said Shredder, a Wisconsin native who loves to fish. She included her artist logo on the coffee cup.
Jon Drew, specialist with the Minnesota Newspaper Museum at the State Fair, met Shredder when she was doing an internship in Minneapolis. She graduated from the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul in 2013 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in printmaking. They kept in touch, and he asked her to create a print for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum project this year.
“As a specialist in the job shop, I’m always looking for fun stuff to print, and we print a variety of items,” he said, noting those items include bookmarks, pads of paper and postcards. “For the last couple years I’ve been reaching out to artists I know and suggesting to them that if they come up with a good piece of art, we’ll print it at the State Fair and give it away.”
Shredder cut her image on a linoleum block and mailed it to Drew. He printed a few hundred postcards in black ink, then had time to cut color blocks to make postcards with the image in different colors.
The postcards were printed on a 1920 Chandler & Price platen press. Each card was hand fed into the press — one at a time — for each color, Drew said. The card has five spot colors plus black on the art side, and two colors on the back side. That meant to print 1,000 cards, Drew hand fed the cards through the press 8,000 times.
“The fun part was when the people came in here to watch it on the press,” he said. “Then we give them away at the fair, for free.”
“It was fun to have artistic freedom — both of us,” Shredder said, noting both enjoyed the collaboration.
“He’s an accomplished printmaker so it was an honor to work with him,” she said of Drew.
Shredder moved to Pequot Lakes in June after she and her partner, Jeremy Schock, found the perfect property to start a garlic farm. Both are artists.
Shredder is a seasonal henna artist — most recently working at the State Fair — and a freelance artist specializing in graphite portraits and lino print cards.
Her next adventure is to learn to paint signs for businesses and cabins.
Minnesota Newspaper Museum
The Minnesota Newspaper Museum was built on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in 1987, and moved to its current location on the fairgrounds seven years ago.
Michelle Leonard, volunteer and operations coordinator with the museum, said there is a lot of interest in the First Amendment these days. The museum features a flatbed press used to print a First Amendment poster given to those who visit the museum.
“First Amendment education is a key piece of what we do there — raise awareness and education,” Leonard said.
The museum also publishes a four-page publication during the fair called the Maynard News, named for a publisher who retired in the mid-'80s and who donated all of his equipment to the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation.
“The museum emulates a 1930s newspaper,” Leonard said. “For me, as a former journalist, it’s still very humbling to understand the amount of work and dedication our predecessors had in serving their communities.”
Drew said most old publications had a job shop where they printed items like invitations, business cards and special posters.
“When not printing the newspaper, they were doing commercial work for the community,” he said. “So what we try to do on our side is run the presses so they can see how the hand fed presses are run.”