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Friday, September 19, 2014

Holding The Spirit Books in My Hand

The best way I can describe my reaction to finally holding a copy of The Spirit Books in my hands is to tell you about a TV show I love—What Not To Wear. During each hour-long episode, Tracy and Clinton would supervise the makeover—clothes, hair, and make up—of a subject nominated by her friends and family. It was almost always an emotional roller coaster for the person. I sympathized totally, especially with the ones who, at the end, were stunned and slightly unhappy. They looked fabulous and yet they couldn’t make the adjustment from their old comfortable looks to their new wonderful ones. That would have been me.

I have had a sample of The Spirit Books that has been my reference and show-and-tell piece for a little over a year. I had it printed online through HP MagCloud which is now owned by blurb. As I have shown that one book around, people have been impressed by its quality for a POD book but it does not compare to the new offset-printed book that I now hold in my hands. For starters, the cover is a new design. My initial thought for the book was to have a very subtle cover—a large expanse of white with a detail from one of the books and just the title. I liked the idea that the cover was quiet. As the book opened, the Spirit Books would be revealed. Once my first viewers (my family) saw the printed book, they emphatically informed me that I should think differently. The cover is what makes people want to pick up the book and open it in the first place.

I still have soft spot for my plain and simple cover even though I’ve been sharing the new cover all over the place for close to a year. Here’s what else is different: the images are sharper and the gray text is no longer slightly broken. It is in every way a better book. The new book is also crisp and clean. It has not been carted around in my bag for a year. It has not been opened and closed countless times. It is not yet worn and not yet a part of me. I like it better today than yesterday. I expect to love it by the launch next weekend.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Arts Tuesday-A Paper Forest

Here's an exhibition I wish I could experience: a handmade paper forest that can be viewed from above or by standing underneath and poking your head through holes in the forest floor.
This is from the Spoon & Tomago site of Japanese Art, Design, and Culture:

I’m in Sapporo this week exploring the 2014 Sapporo International Art Festival. The theme of this year’s city-wide art show is “Nature and City” and is curated by the great Ryuichi Sakamoto. I’m documenting a few of my favorite installations. The art festival runs from July 19 – September 28, 2014.

Japanese artist Takashi Kuribayashi staged his paper installation “Wald aus Wald,” German for Forest from Forest. The installation, which features a single room ensconced in a white forest made from washi paper, has traveled to museums around the world: Tokyo (in 2010), Singapore (in 2011) and, most recently, Germany (in 2013). But it has now returned to Japan where it’s on display at the Sapporo Art Museum. These photos, taken from the artist’s website, are from previous installations.

Read more here.

Thank you to India Flint for sharing this on facebook.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Studio Sunday-Lettering on Glasses

Over the past week, I lettered a quote from John Greenleaf Whittier on 30 glasses which were given as gifts to participants in the Celebrating Whittier event sponsored by the Whittier Home Association in Amesbury, MA. My involvement began last spring when I wrote Take joy! on a vase for Books in Bloom at the Newburyport Public Library. I used acrylic paint which was not a good idea as it was starting to peel before it even got to the library. That led me to research glass paint and I discovered Pebeo Porcelaine. The great thing about it is that it can be wiped off even after it dries (rubbing alcohol works better than water) but is made permanent by baking for 35 minutes in a 300 degree oven.

Last year I had designed a booklet for the Whittier event so this year I thought a quote lettered on glass would be a nice addition to the evening. We originally contemplated vases but eventually decided on wine glasses. I had a selection of quotes from the Whispered Fragments piece I had done at Outdoor Sculpture at Maudslay and "And justice always into mercy grew" from Whittier's 1872 The Pennsylvania Pilgrim was chosen.

By the time I finished writing on the glasses, I was pretty discouraged. I found it difficult to get the paint on as evenly as I would have liked and working on the curved surface was a challenge. As I put them in the boxes, I could see nothing but the flaws and cheered myself with the thought that the recipients probably wouldn't know enough about calligraphy to see what I saw. And then a funny thing happened at the program last night. I saw a few of them outside of the studio and in the hall after a wonderful evening of presentations. They looked great! Somehow they had absorbed the rush of good feeling in the air after an inspiring evening of Whittier's words about social justice and the experiences of the abolitionist and feminist Grimke sisters as portrayed by Susan Lenoe and Lani Peterson.

I knew I would be writing a post about the glasses today. Before last night, it would have concluded with the decision to avoid projects that involved direct lettering as opposed to work that is reproduced. Calligraphy and lettering are no longer the basis of my work but most often an element of it. I could spend time learning more about controlling the paint and writing on glass. I could work at it until I could work with the freedom and looseness that I can with my brush pen on paper. But I don't want to. It has taken me many years to give myself permission to work in the way that I want. If I feel that if I can do work that fits the standards of the overall piece and its use, that is okay even if it is not the best I could do if I worked harder at it. I'm coming to see that I will never live long enough to learn everything I could learn or pursue every idea that I have. It's time, as I wrote in Art Lessons, to "Take joy!" and also to accept that I can give joy. I know that the glasses are of value for both the message of the quote and the way it was presented to some if not all of the recipients. Sometimes it's not just about me.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Book Arts Tuesday-Altered Visions at 23 Sandy Gallery

23 Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR kicks off fall with Altered Visions, a curated collection of altered books. This exhibition explores a wide range of materials, structures and concepts used by artists who are creating art made from books. Books by this select group of gallery artists have been excavated, folded, glued, painted, waxed, collaged, crystallized, pinned, rebound, fluffed and carved to make completely new sculptural works of art.

The above book is by Mary Bennett and is titled Le Rime by Francesco Patrarca.

Mary Bennett is a conceptual artist working with book arts, printmaking and art projects that engage the public on issues of community, social justice and the environment.

Regarding her work with found materials, including vintage books, Bennett says, “It’s very important for me to start with materials that have had a former life. I want them to have been something else, and I want to transform or reconfigure them to make something different. I don’t care if you recognize it or not, this former life, and I almost always use text.”

Boise Weekly recently called Mary Bennett a “book arts pioneer” who alters an object by “Transforming its traditional origins both emphasizing her source’s former life while challenging the viewer to reconsider the same.”

View the online catalog.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Spirit Books Exhibition & Book Launch

It is just shy of 3 weeks until what has become in my mind "the big event"—The Spirit Books Exhibition and Book Launch on September 27 and 28 in Essex, MA. When I think about the fact that my daughter who is just turning 23 was one when I made the first Spirit Book and my son was seven, it makes sense that this is a big deal. I'm trying very hard not to neglect one of the most important (and my least favorite) parts of an event—getting an audience by doing publicity. I've created an online media kit, written and sent press releases, sent emails to school art departments in the area, and printed and am beginning to distribute flyers. I am visiting the host location today for the final planning. I still have signs to make, a price list for the original Spirit Books that will be for sale, simple refreshments to organize, my talk to prepare, and a few Spirit Book bases (and again, my least favorite part) to finish. And all the while I am anxiously awaiting the delivery of the printed books and looking forward to holding one in my hand. If you are in the area, please join me.

View the media kit.

Print a flyer.

Follow the event on facebook.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Studio Sunday-Spirit Book #78 Page

This paper made by Velma Bolyard is so rich and textured that I went through a lot of possibilities before I came up with a page design I liked. I tried adding beads but found them distracting. I think this will be the way I go—just threads.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Book Arts Tuesday-Blooks

Mindell Dubansky, head of the Sherman Fairchild Center for Book Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, collects blooks and shares them on her blog, About Blooks. Here's how she describes them:

This blog is devoted to the subject of BLOOKS, objects made in the emulation of books, either by hand or commercial manufacture. All over the world, for hundreds of years, people have been making, collecting and presenting book-objects that reflect their devotion and respect for books and for each other. There are countless examples; they include bars, cameras, radios, banks, toys, memorials, food tins, desk accessories, book safes, musical instruments, magic tricks, furniture and jewelry. Blooks embody the same characteristics as books and many take the form of specific titles and book formats. They signify knowledge, education, taste, power, wealth and more. They have been treasured and passed down through the generations, and many thousands reside in private homes, public and private businesses and in museums and libraries around the world. Blooks have been used to celebrate and memorialize important occasions and personal losses and successes. They serve as reminders of memorable visits to important places, as receptacles to hold valuable and practical objects and are the source of great amusement.

The blooks are so varied—beautiful, fascinating, fun, mysterious, and serious. Thank you Mindell for sharing your collection.

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