You could drive by Northern Prints Gallery, at 318 North Fourteenth Avenue East in Duluth, and not know it was there, much less that over 100 colorful and detailed original woodcuts and stone lithographs are on display in the first floor gallery.
Northern Prints owner Cecilia “Cele” Lieder has been printmaking for 40 years. She opened her gallery to the public in 2003 and now offers three or four exhibits a year—usually, two featuring artists from the Northern Printmaking Alliance twice a year, one featuring an out-of-state artist, and a solo show of Lieder’s own work.
Compassion, a woodcut by Cecilia Lieder,
is part of the Wilderness exhibit on display
at Northern Prints Gallery through August 1.
The current exhibit, Wilderness: Celebrating the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, is a dizzying array of perspectives by 30 Minnesota printmakers, including Duluth artists Joel Cooper, Matt Kania, John Peyton, Jon Hinkel, and Earl Austin. The exhibit runs through August 1 with a closing event during the last week in July.
Collaboration comes easily for Lieder, who is also a writer. In 2008, the gallery housed a show of poetry and prints. Out of that exhibit came a 100-page book of poems and prints by 64 artists, called Trail Guide to the Northland Experience in Prints and Poetry, and published by Lieder’s own company, Calyx Press Duluth.
Inspired by artist Peter Lupori at St. Catherine University, Lieder first studied to be a sculptor as well as a printmaker. She earned a Master’s in Art and Poetry from the University of Minnesota Duluth and studied at Richmond Professional Institute and the University of Wisconsin-Superior. During a three-year term as director of the Talley Gallery at Bemidji State University, she received awards for art and arts activism in the region.
Northern Prints Gallery doubles as Lieder’s home and workshop. The gallery itself is comfortable and inviting. Furniture abounds, but despite 120 prints on the walls, there is no sense of crowding. The works wait patiently and demurely for the viewer’s attention. They do not shout or command, but rather invite and attract with a startlingly diverse and vivid kind of humility.
“We’ve all been working very hard to create a climate that understands printmaking,” says Lieder. A 2014 exhibit, seductively titled Secrets of Printmaking: Five Master Printers and the Evolution of Their Work, was specifically intended to demystify an art form that might be summed up as: It’s Complicated.
Printmaking involves multiple steps, starting with a mirror-image sketch called the “deferred image.” This is printed onto the medium, such as wood or linoleum, and then carved, colored, or etched. The process is labor intensive and requires much planning.
“I wouldn’t have that much patience” is a refrain Lieder often hears, but an artist’s patience is born of a deep love for the art. “I often wonder how many hours I have spent carving wood...then I start carving, and I don’t care. Printing is like dance to me, and the carving is too. I can carve for six to eight hours without fatigue.”
Northern Prints Gallery is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment at 218-724-5212 or 218-724-3089.