By Dave Hoekstra
The connections between Hatch Show Print in downtown Nashville, Tenn., and Chicago are strong and true.
The historic woodblock poster shop opened in 1879 and made Negro League baseball posters for the Chicago American Giants. In recent years Hatch created posters for Buddy Guy, the Waco Brothers and FitzGerald's in Berwyn (not to mention for one of this reporter's book release parties).
Hatch Show Print manager Jim Sherraden tells his staff, "If it looks good, run it!"
Hatch makes a rare visit to Chicago with an exhibit that opens at 7 p.m. Friday at Firecat Projects, (2124 N. Damen. (773-342-5381; firecatprojects.org). Walls will be covered from floor to ceiling with Hatch posters, now a division of the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.
All posters (including Chicago American Giants) will be for sale, ranging in price from $10 to $150. (Firecat takes no sales percentage). Gallery director Stan Klein said after a sale he'll simply remove the poster and put up another one.
Hatch's letterpress process begins by selecting (or carving) woodblocks, setting up wood and/or metal type, and then pressing these elements on to paper to create an image. Hatch was best known in the 1950s for making Grand Ole Opry posters for Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe and others.
Hatch's most popular poster is of a young Elvis Presley, promoting his Aug. 10-11, 1956, gigs at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville. In 1989 Presley's late manager Col. Tom Parker wanted to buy six copies of the Presley posters at $6 apiece. Sherradan arranged a trade-off for a newspaper interview with the now-defunct Nashville Banner.
Beer and wine will be served for opening night. The exhibit is sponsored by Joe Shanahan and Metro. Hatch made a Metro 30th anniversary poster, and that also will be for sale.
The Hatch Show Print exhibit will be up until April 20.