Slow Book Salon Exhibit

I'm fortunate to be part of a group of regional bookmakers, the Slow Book Salon. The title is modeled after the "slow" movement: things done with attention, intention, and care. For the past three years, the group has been invited to show its work at the Design Gallery in Burnsville. Burnsville, a small, charming town about an hour northeast of Asheville, and about 15 minutes from Penland. The Design Gallery is a lovely space, featuring the work of regional artists, and the exhibition coincides each year with the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival, which Burnsville established and hosts. The book exhibit plays on the theme of the Literary Festival, which changes annually. This year it was "The Beloved Community."

I love seeing the work of my fellow bookmakers together in one venue. As happens whenever I'm lucky enough to visit an exhibition of book arts, I'm delighted by the variety of the work, and the many interpretations of the book form. At this exhibit, I particularly enjoyed learning more about the personal aesthetic of each of the members of the group -- some of whom I know well and others whom I see only occasionally.

Here are just a few of the books in the exhibit, which closes this week.
A detail from Annie Cicale's book -- incorporating watercolor and calligraphy -- is at top right.

The images in Susan Doggett's The Red Thread are linoleum block prints on mulberry paper.

Kathy Steinsberger's Happily Ever After includes collagraph prints & photopolymer prints.

Each year Carol Norby makes a "slinky" book using postcards from the prior year's exhibition.

In Boundaries, Lisa Blackburn created a -and-box combination that s handmade paper and image transfers. This is one of the spreads.

Bryony Smith presented an ancient book form.

Margaret Couch Cogswell's mixed media creation, The Village Idiot

Another mixed media work, Carol Norby's These Beautiful Counties

Priscilla Hill created a mixed media book with mica covers and pages.

Sharon Sharp's linocut print was the centerpiece of her book.


Sneak Peek at Interlude Editions' 2008 Small Book Edition

I've been meaning to write about Interlude Editions, and now's the perfect time. IE is a small organization that funds residencies for artists who want to create limited editions of artists' books and fine arts prints for education, exhibition, and distribution.

A group of book and print artists living and working in Western North Carolina founded IE in 2007 to address the needs of artists working the book form for space, equipment, creative resources, and dedicated time to create editions of their work
(in the interest of full disclosure, I'm on IE's all-volunteer Board). You can read more about the artists' residency program, eligibility, and the application and selection process here. IE Artists are resident at BookWorks, which provides studio space, the use of specialized equipment, and staff support.

Currently, IE's budget is tiny, and includes provision of a small stipend for the IE resident artists, which typically pays for supplies the artist is using in her/his project. IE's first resident artist is Frank Brannon, a letterpress artist and papermaker. During his residency, he created an edition of more than 80 books featuring the paste-papers of "Larry Lou" Foster. Foster, who lives in Alabama, is a book artist, fine binder, and teacher, and is particularly known for her innovative paste-paper designs, many of which are based on traditional motifs. She and Frank will be at BookWorks in March 2009 to talk about her work and their joint project.

IE's Small Book Edition came to life in 2007 as one way to raise funds for the residencies (the Cold Mountain Collection is another -- more on that later!). Fourteen book and print artists each created a handmade book, each book no larger than 3" x 3," for the collection. The books were placed in a handmade display box, and the collection was auctioned at BookWorks' annual BookOpolis event. The winning bid was from Western Carolina University, and the 2007 Small Book Edition is now in the collection of the Fine Art Museum at that school. (You can see a photo of the 2007 collection here.)

This year we're holding a raffle. The 2008 Small Book Edition includes 17 books. Inspired by Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space, the collection is housed in a wonderful one-of-a-kind handmade box with "movable rooms" created by mixed media artist Sandy Webster. The books incorporate a variety of printing and binding techniques and include both traditional and nontraditional books forms.

IE is selling raffle tickets at $10 per ticket, or $25 for three tickets. We're selling only 200 tickets (I told you our budget was small), so chances of winning are excellent. Having seen the full array of books, and the display box earlier this week, I've already bought more than a handful of tickets myself. The winning ticket will be selected on September 26, BookOpolis' opening reception (see more about BookOpolis here), and you don't have to be present to win (which is good for book arts friends who live elsewhere). By the way, there's also time to submit a book for the BookOpolis exhibition!

Here are some pix of the 2008 Small Book Edition collection and just a few of the individual books. The photo at top right is the amazing "box" that contains the books. Enjoy!

the display box, opened to reveal its treasures (the "egg" book on the 3rd floor is by Margaret Cogswell, whom I wrote about recently; there's a tiny "room" in the attic for Dan Essig's book, "next door" is Heather Allen-Swarttouw's book (see below)

a spread from Annie Cicale's accordion book, Poetics of 204,
about the building of a new family home

Matt Liddle's tunnel book (I took a printmaking class, which I loved,
from Matt at PBI this spring)

a spread from Frank Brannon's letterpressed book
Eye Think A Lot About Potatoes: They Make Me Quite Round
(Frank is the first Interlude Editions resident artist.
He's teaching a letterpress concentration at Penland this winter)

Heather Allen-Swarttouw's untitled contribution to the collection


We Now Interrupt This Program...

A brief break from my posts about this summer's Penland experience, occasioned by my discovery of the blog slow reads. Glancing through the New York Times' books blog, Paper Cuts, I read a comment to a post about the lack of good essays in the current crop of literary blogs. The author recommended several blogs that he felt provided just that. One of them was slow reads. I plan to dig into it further, but the main conceit of the blog, the pleasures of reading slowly, struck a major chord. For me, not all books merit slow reading (what, as English majors, we used to call 'close reading' in college): if I'm reading nonfiction, and purely for information, for example, I rarely slow down. But there are books that offer many more rewards to the slow reader than they do to the speed-reader.

I couldn't resist including a few quotes from an essay by writer Teju Cole, reprinted in the blog, and titled, naturally, "slow reader:"
"One day I went to the bookshop and selected a pile of books—Svevo, Kafka, James, Calasso, about a dozen in all—and from each I read page fifty. Naturally, I often found myself in the middle of a sentence at the page’s beginning or end. But these are the fragments from which a life is made, like those snatches of conversation one hears on the subway, which are free-floating pages from a much larger and more intricate narrative. I eventually left the bookshop, late late in the afternoon, and it was as though I had been to the world’s greatest luncheon..."


"As for Love in the Time of Cholera, don’t even get me started. I've read the first hundred pages of that book no less than three times, Saint Ursula is my witness. The first time was out-loud to my wife, three pages a night. Maybe or maybe not I will eventually read the rest; more likely, I’ll go back and read the first hundred again..."


"Life is too precious to waste on fast reading; I bet Neruda says something like that in his Memoirs, but I haven’t gotten to that part yet."
And here's the first paragraph of an essay by Dave Bonta (who blogs at Via Negativa, another blog mentioned in the Paper Cuts comment), about the joys of second readings:
"Reading something for the second time is so much more satisfying than that first read-through. So many books withhold their full treasures from the first-time reader. Not that the first time can't be special too, of course: surfaces are beautiful, and not to be taken lightly. During that first, heady encounter with a text, it is not merely the words that entrance us. The typefont, the design, the texture of the paper, the look and feel of covers and slipcovers, even the smell of the bindings - if new - or the patina that comes with good use: these too are manifest occasions for pleasure and surprise.

"But few of us possess the skill as readers to avoid succumbing to that first-time excitement and finishing the book too soon. And to lay it aside at that point, never to return, would constitute not simply callousness but profound disrespect. Unless the book at hand be some cheap, manupulative thing, in which case even a single reading amounts to little more than "an expense of spirit in a waste of shame," as Shakespeare once said about something else entirely."