The Cleveland Museum of Art has organized an exhibition that focuses on a little-known Cleveland artist, Mabel Hewit. Midwest Modern: The Color Woodcuts of Mabel Hewit features 76 works from the museum's collection supplemented with loans from Mr. and Mrs. William Jurey, relatives of the artist, and a New York private collection. This show will inaugurate the opening of the museum's new prints and drawings galleries on June 26, 2010.
Organized by Curator of Prints Jane Glaubinger, this is the first museum exhibition to explore the work of Mabel Hewit. Hewit learned to make white-line color woodcuts from Blanche Lazzell, the most important practitioner of the technique, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 1933. Hewit worked in the medium throughout her five-decade long career. She created exuberantly colored, modernist woodcuts depicting diverse subjects, such as scenes of Provincetown and daily life and views of Saugatuck, Michigan, where she spent 16 summers studying at Ox-Bow, a summer art program. From 1950 Hewit traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, and the West Indies, locales that are also reflected in her work. In addition, she produced lithographs and watercolors, and she printed woodblocks on lengths of fabric, creating handsome textiles meant for home decoration. Hewit was aware of recent art trends and was influenced by Precisionism, Cubism, and Art Deco. Although her prints are naturalistic, several of the textiles are printed with abstract patterns.