“Scorch,” a relief print by Dealey Settlemyre Dansby of Pink House Print Shop of Tampa, Florida, is part of “Relief Conspiracy” at the Harlow Gallery. Courtesy of Harlow Gallery

Scott Minzy enjoys receiving mail, and assumes other people do as well. A printmaker from Pittston, Minzy has gotten into the habit of making small prints and mailing them to people, who delight in the surprise and wonder of receiving original art in the mail, just because.

Daniel Minter of Portland is showing work in “Relief Conspiracy” at the Harlow Gallery. Courtesy of the Harlow Gallery

In 2019, he put out a call on social media for a print exchange among artists. “I thought I would get 20 or 30, and I got well over 100,” said Minzy, who specializes in relief printing. “When the pandemic came, people asked if I would do it again.”

This time, he ended up with mostly postcard-size prints from 376 artists representing 26 countries and five continents. He partnered with the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, which has opened a dense in-person exhibition, “Relief Conspiracy,” on view in person through Feb. 27, as well as online at harlowgallery.org.

Minzy, a public school art teacher, was home a lot last year homeschooling his own kids and teaching other pupils remotely. At a time when the world seemed negative and insular, the print exchange offered hope and an outward-looking view of the world, he said.

With so many prints coming in, it would be a shame if they ended up in an Instagram post and then forevermore in a figurative shoebox, Minzy said. “I wanted to have a celebration of everyone’s hard work. Hard work might not be the right word, but I thought there should be a capstone event.”

During the time of the pandemic, Minzy rallied nearly 400 people around the world and created both a global community among the artists and a community among people in Maine who visit the Harlow to see the art in person.

Minzy loves the surprise of receiving prints in the mail and the range of topics that artists explore. There was no theme, and Minzy offered few rules other than asking artists to use relief printing methods, which involve carving a wooden block or etching a plate, applying ink to the raised surface and then bringing it in contact with paper.

He wanted it to be fast, easy and fun. “There are people who made their first print for the show, and some people are master printmakers,” Minzy said. “There are a lot of college professors, and one class made it a class project.”

Among the artists who participated is Lucky Platt of Burnham, a Maine author and illustrator who created a wearable relief print for her children’s book “Imagine A Wolf.” Master printmaker Daniel Minter of Portland also has work in the exhibition, as does Mississippi-based printmaker Sean Star Wars, an artist with a national following.

For the Harlow, “Relief Conspiracy” represents a new beginning. The exhibition had been scheduled for last year but was delayed by complications surrounding the pandemic. The Harlow laid off its staff in August and reorganized its board and cadre of volunteers. It’s the first exhibition under the direction of newly hired gallery manager Marie Sugden.

Board president Hélène Farrar said things are looking better for the gallery in 2021, the uncertainty of the pandemic notwithstanding.

“Opening Scott’s show is exciting. We are finally feeling like there is some real momentum here,” she said. “We did not lose money this past year, which is kind of amazing. We are making a strong comeback.”

“Relief Conspiracy” at the Harlow Gallery, 100 Water St., will be on display through Feb. 27. In-person hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There will be an online discussion among artists at 5 p.m. Feb. 19. For details and to view the exhibition online, visit harlowgallery.org.

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