Friday, August 13, 2010

The art of making books and books as art

SF is the epi-center for calligraphy, small presses, hand made books and the galleries that showcase both art forms. There are dozens of organizations, fairs, and classes to satisfy the most passionate book lover. Regardless of the popularity of the electronic book, the traditional book form of paper between covers has a protected place in the hearts of readers. The book has been the body of human thought for many centuries and those who cherish the written word also cherish the book. But the form of the book is also a place for new and experimental forms of art, one that explores the boundaries of the familiar rectangle to create an object d'art.
San Francisco Center for the Book is showcasing Los Angeles Loteria: An Exploration of Identity (through September 19th).

"Traditionally, Loteria is a game of chance played with 54 cards that represent significant Icons in Mexican culture. Aardvark Letterpress Co-owner Cary Ocon and designer/artist Rick von Dehl had been refining an idea for a letterpressed Los Angeles version of the game of Loteria for two years. For Aardvark, the idea was to ask artists to select and interpret some part of the Los Angeles experience in their own style. In this spirit of collaboration, Ocon and Persky refined and developed the full scope of Los Angeles Loteria, forming it around the Aardvark Letterpress business model: a crossroads of Los Angeles, a family place, a model of democracy, a melting pot. SFCB @ 300 De Haro St, San Francisco (photos courtesy of SFCB/Aardvark Press)

Andie Thrams, In FORESTS, Volume XXIII - How Altered is Vision, 2010
Bedford Gallery: 'Unbound: A National Exhibition of Book Art'

Many artists in "Unbound" have produced books that are creatively hand-built and bound, while others have embraced the book as medium to explore alternate forms. Employing printmaking, painting, ceramics, textile, video and other media, they created works ranging from 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches to 100 by 50 inches. Some made single or limited-edition art books; others used books as their medium, taking apart the covers, pages and spines of books, and transforming them into two and three dimensional pieces.

"Book Art" is a synthesis of form and content and provides us a bridge between the traditional book and contemporary art," Lederer says. "Artists' books engage us in their meaning through a myriad of elements (versus just text), including words, image, materials, shape, form and color. The creative opportunity for structuring and packaging book art is endless - from pop-ups to sculptural housing."
Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. (925) 295-1417.

Book arts organizations:

If anybody wants to follow a contemporary writer and book designer, check out the blog "Right Reading." Written by Tom Christensen, who also writes and designs books for the Asian Art Museum, it will follow his process on his new book from start to finish - from writing, to choosing the type, designing the pages, the cover and everything in-between.

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