Jul 172015
 

Exhibit Case

A few weeks ago while at the Humboldt State U. library, I noticed that a new, intriguingly eclectic book exhibit was being installed in the main display case.

The friendly person arranging the books told me that students in the Museum and Gallery Practices certificate program, which was responsible for the exhibit, had each contributed a book of personal significance for inclusion. They were calling the display “Inspiration in a Book”.

Two of the books in particular caught my eye. They were accordions. I’m always fascinated by mass-produced accordions. They were each a reproduction of an old Japanese work of art for a Western audience, and both were published in the 1960s.

One was Choju Giga: Scrolls of Animal Caricatures, adapted by Shigetaka Kaneko from the Japanese text by Hideo Okudaira (the book was published in 1969; the work itself dates to the 12th and 13th C).

Choju Giga in display case

 

large accordion book in display case

As the copy of “Who’s Who in the CIA” would suggest, this is indeed an eclectic display.

The other was a reproduction of Sesshu’s Long Scroll that was published with English commentary by Tuttle.Sesshu's Long Scroll in display case

This enjoyable display inspired me to share the commercially-produced accordions from my own personal library.

Sesshu's Long ScrollFirst up is … Sesshu’s Long Scroll published by Tuttle in ’69. They’ve reprinted it a few times. This version has wooden covers (I think it might be the same edition that’s in the library exhibit).

Couleurs du Jour

Couleurs du Jour detail

Couleurs du Jour detail 3
This slinky, joyful delight is Couleurs du Jour by Czech author-illustrator Kveta Pacovska. It’s definitely colorful. And it’s filled with pop-ups and subtle changes in texture on the pages. It’s also double-sided and l-o-n-g. There are openings in some places that offer glimpses of parts of the reverse. It’s fun to open it at random and flip through — and stretch out — pages . . . after pages. The pages are all joined at the fore-edge to form the accordion, as you can see in this top view.

Couleurs du Jour closed

It’s the sort of thing that fills one with potential ideas for making one’s own books. The illustrations are simple and childlike, and there are no words. But the piece as a whole flows with an inner rhythm that seems to make sense in an odd and playful way.

This is Fenêtres Sur Rue (“Windows on the Street”) by Pascal Rabaté. On one side are views of buildings by day. Then you flip it over for nighttime.


Fenetres: Matinées Fenetres: soirees

Like the previous accordion, the pages are all glued together along one edge only (note the extra thickness on the right top view below).

Fenetres top view

Nox, published in 2010, is a facsimile of a handmade book by American poet and classicist Anne Carson. Its theme is decidedly more somber than the others. It comes in a clamshell box.

Nox, open in clamshell box

 

Nox by Anne Carson

The eclectic display at the Humboldt State library is in the large case on the ground floor and will be on view until July 27.

Nov 162012
 

The latest We Love Your Books exhibition, Minute, is now up at the University of Northampton. It includes my flip book depicting one minute on the clock. This year the exhibit in Northampton was selected from a larger online show, and views of it can be seen here. A catalogue can be seen and bought here. “Minute” could be interpreted in any way desired, and there’s some genuinely fascinating work here.

Apr 112012
 

My friend Shirley sent me a British children’s book from the 50s that is (more or less) about human evolution. She thought it looked like perfect material for an altered book.

She was right.

A couple of months ago, a call went out from MarinMOCA for their annual altered book show. I got out my scissors. A little natural selection, anyone?

I gutted the book. It has some basic human biology in it as well, but I decided to focus on the evolution bits for the sake of cohesion. I mounted the cutouts with dry adhesive onto stiff paper. Then I arranged the chosen elements into layers.

I cut out several identical black frames from stiff black Strathmore paper and folded two accordions from black German Ingres (the stuff is strong, but thin enough to fold into a nice pliable structure). I anchored the cutouts onto the paper frames.

 

Then I added hinges made of the Ingres onto the back of each frame.

 

I used 3M 415 double-sided tape for mounting. Why use glue when it can be avoided? Especially when there’s a good archival alternative.

 

The downside is it has no open time for repositioning. Stick it once, and it’s there forever. That’ll keep you on your toes. Additionally, I hadn’t made a tunnel book in a long time. I’d forgotten that it can feel like binding a Slinky. Eventually, however, a rhythm emerges and it’s not too bad. Also, I quickly remembered that the best way to handle double-sided tape is to not peel off the backing paper all at once after positioning. It’s best to line up the page into position and then slide the liner off the tape as you go:

 

On the up side, I’d also forgotten how theatrical and fun a finished tunnel book can be, especially a larger one like this.


The finished tunnel is a tight fit into the original cover. If I’d had more time, I might’ve considered altering the spine to fit more properly. On the other hand, this way seems more in the altered book spirit.

I’ve had a few original (not altered) tunnel projects sitting around half finished. Now that my appetite has been whetted, I want to make more tunnels!

If you’re near the San Francisco Bay Area, consider checking out the 3rd Annual Altered Book Show at MarinMOCA in Novato, where Modern Marvels: Man will be on exhibit. It opens April 21. More details are on their website.

Oct 022011
 

My exhibition opening at Eureka Books turned out to be quite enjoyable. I reconnected with friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in quite a few years, and was genuinely touched by the enthusiasm of many others. I hadn’t been sure what it would feel like to spend an evening seeing, and talking about, my paper mosaic collages from years ago along with the books I’m doing now. But it turned out I was glad to have the opportunity.

The photos above the railing are revived from a display in my last solo show of paper mosaic collages 9 years ago. They show the process in the studio.

It’s been so long since I’ve shown them here at home that many people hadn’t ever seen them. I’d been a little afraid it was all going to be eclectic to the point of bizarre, but in the end I thought it all went together well.

But I shouldn’t speak entirely in the past tense. The show continues for the rest of the month. But it’s shrinking a bit–most notably, there is now only one bottle of Codex capsules left out of what began as an edition of five. I do so love people who buy artists’ books! See ’em while you can.

 

What kind of picture book is this?

Apr 192011
 
Hidden Clue by Sarah Wallace Scott at Abecedarian Gallery

Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, Colorado is currently hosting Artists’ Book Cornucopia II, a juried exhibition. There is an online catalogue.

Needless to say, I was quite taken with this particular itemHidden Clue by Sarah Wallace Scott. Says Sarah,

“In my process of working with paper I found that I could make faux taxidermy using only paper. The problem was that no one could tell the difference. I tore out the pages of a used book and started attaching them in the same way as the other paper to make a more obvious paper chipmunk…”

Paper chipmunk taxidermy aside, I should add that there is work from quite a few interesting people in this show, including fellow blogger Anna Mavromatis (who has blogs about her book art as well as more ephemeral matters).

Nov 152010
 
 Leif Parsons/NY Times illustration

I’m going to be having a show next year at Eureka Books.

It isn’t happening for a while yet, but I’m bringing it up now because the bookshop was mentioned in the New York Times on Sunday. The author of the piece, Amy Stewart, is one of the co-owners. It’s a true, and funny, story involving the store and Humboldt County’s most famous agricultural export. 

Sep 062010
 
Last night was the opening for the North Redwoods Book Arts Guild exhibition at Eureka Books. This has become an annual event over the last few years, and this was the best yet. It’s great that we have such an enthusiastic and supportive local spot for book arts here in our little corner of the world. Most of the books will be up for the month, including my pharmaceutical piece and the cat book noted below in recent earlier posts. If you’re local, come see it while you can. Members from as far away as Thailand submitted books. The books have also been posted on Flickr.
One of the problems, though, of having a show at one of my favorite bookstores is that I, not being so big into large social gatherings, had to keep fighting the urge to duck upstairs to hide among the shelves. At one point, temptation was too great and I discovered a marvelous FBI manual from the 70s on forensic investigation. I owe my friend Shirl, who likes to alter things with a deliciously irreverent eye, a present. I hope she’s not reading this. 
Nothing to do with art, but I tend to digress…during the evening my eye fell upon an old favorite, Ordeal by Hunger by George R. Stewart. The book is an account of the Donner Party, and in this particular version, there’s an appendix with a letter that 12 year old Virginia Reed wrote to the folks back home after surviving the ordeal. “My Dear Cousin I am going to write to you about our trubels geting to California…” 
Young Virginia ends by offering this bit of sage advice: “Dont let this letter dish[e]a[r]ten anybody… never take no cutofs and hury along as fast as you can.” 
Words to live by. Especially for those of us prone to digressing. 
Aug 282010
 

The We Love Your Books “e-motive” exhibition of experimental and artists’ books is happening now in Milton Keynes. I’m pleased to have my small part in this (pictured below).

There’s more information and pictures of the entries at their website. Emma Powell, one of the organizers, has also put photos of the entries, as well as pictures of the show itself, on Flickr.

In addition, participants were asked to submit photos or scans from their sketchbooks as they worked through the process of creating their pieces for the show. These have also been posted as a set on Flickr.

Nice printed catalogues of both the exhibition and the sketchbook spreads are also available.

It makes me tired even contemplating the work that the organizers Emma Powell and Melanie Bush must put into arranging these shows each year. It truly does seem to be a labor of love. As I say, I’m pleased I can be a part of it in my small way (literally, since my laptop book is a miniature).

E-motives, my entry for e-motive
Aug 082010
 

I went down to San Rafael to see the Art of the Book exhibit at Donna Seager Gallery before it closed. It was wonderful and truly inspiring.

I also found it reassuring. I often feel insecure about the little imperfections in my books. It was enlightening to handle work by some of the book artists I admire most, and to see that theirs, too, splay or have stitching that is not quite perfect, or windows that are just a tiny bit crooked. It’s good to be reminded that those little idiosyncrasies can add character and warmth to a piece.

The show has come down, but is still online (via the link above). Note that there are two pages of pictures.

I also got to stop at California Carnivores in Sonoma County, my favorite plant nursery of all time. It was quite hot during the trip home. It wasn’t safe to leave my new babies in the car when I stopped for coffee, so they came in with me. For some reason, people stared.