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Steamboat Magazine

Gutzon Borglum Shows in Steamboat

01/03/2020 03:31PM ● By Alesha Damerville

Image courtesy of the Tread of Pioneers Museum

By Candice Bannister
– Preeminent American artist and sculptor, Gutzon Borglum (1867 – 1941) is best known for his creation of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota. He also created other public works of art, including a bust of Abraham Lincoln exhibited in the White House by Theodore Roosevelt and now held in the United States Capitol Crypt in Washington, D.C.
When local printmaker Sue Oehme of Oehme Graphics was introduced to Steamboat Springs resident, Robert Ellsworth, who asked her to print some "antique plates," little did she know, she would be making history. 

She later found out that Ellsworth is the step-grandson of Borglum, and what he entrusted her with was the printing of a set of 38 copper plate images of Borglum’s work. The sculptor had created the plates from 1910 -1913, so he could have printed images for prospective museum curators and clients. 

“The entire essence of the first printing was to be a marketing tool,” said Oehme. “The first prints are not preserved very well, mostly because they were printed on lightweight paper. They were housed in a thin leather portfolio, and the sets were available by subscription.”

“I started out simply as the printer, but quickly realized that this was a special and historic opportunity, and after much discussion, Robert and I decided to co-publish the set and re-release it.”

For the first time, the newly printed set will be on display at the Tread of Pioneers Museum in the new exhibit, “Muse of Marble: The Works of Artist Gutzon Borglum.” The public is invited to the opening exhibit reception for the January 3 First Friday Artwalk from 5-8pm, where both Ellsworth and Oehme will be in attendance. 

Oehme/Borglum’s printed suite is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a few of the prints are in the collection of the Smithsonian. Oehme and Ellsworth are actively working wwith other institutions to acquire the collection. 

“I think it's an amazing opportunity for the Steamboat community to get to see these rare, historical pieces, and to start a dialogue about Gutzon Borlgum's life and work,” said Oehme.