A Look Back at 2014

What a year we’ve had at the Center! From openings and celebrations to talks, classes and readings, we made some great memories with new and familiar faces as we entered our 40th Anniversary year. A huge thank you to our members, instructors, students, volunteers, staff, board, supporters, artists, and everyone who participated in this year’s wide range of fantastic events.

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Artist Spotlight: Iviva Olenick

The classes or events mentioned in this blog post happened in the past. It’s possible that we are offering a similar class or a similar event is happening now or in the future. Please view the Center for Book Arts class listings, Events, Exhibits, or Contact us for more information.
On Wednesday, August 6th, the Center will host an Artist Talk featuring Béatrice Coron, Iviva Olenick, and Ximena Pérez Grobet, who are all exhibiting their works in Livres d’Artiste d’Aujourd’hui: Interdisciplinary Collaborations. Leading up to the Talk, we will write a Spotlight featuring each artist.

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Artist Spotlights: Ximena Pérez Grobet

The classes or events mentioned in this blog post happened in the past. It’s possible that we are offering a similar class or a similar event is happening now or in the future. Please view the Center for Book Arts class listingsEventsExhibits, or Contact us for more information.

On Wednesday, August 6th, the Center will host an Artist Talk featuring Béatrice Coron, Iviva Olenick, and Ximena Pérez Grobet, who are all exhibiting their works in Livres d’Artiste d’Aujourd’hui: Interdisciplinary Collaborations. Leading up to the Talk, we will write a Spotlight featuring each artist.

[Read more…]

Artist Spotlight: Béatrice Coron

The class(es) mentioned in this blog post were taught in the past. It’s possible that we are offering a similar class now or in the future. Please view the Center for Book Arts class listings or Contact us for more information.

On Wednesday, August 6th, the Center will host an Artist Talk featuring Béatrice Coron, Iviva Olenick, and Ximena Pérez Grobet, who are all exhibiting their works in Livres d’Artiste d’Aujourd’hui: Interdisciplinary Collaborations. Leading up to the Talk, we will write a Spotlight featuring each artist.

[Read more…]

August Workshops: Vegetable Gardens, Papercutting, Platen Presses, oh my!

The classes or events mentioned in this blog post happened in the past. It’s possible that we are offering a similar class or a similar event is happening now or in the future. Please view the Center for Book Arts class listingsEventsExhibits, or Contact us for more information.

We’re deep into the summer now, and what a way to get through the slow burn by checking out some of our August workshops?

Pop-Up Vegetable Garden
August 2nd – 3rd, Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm

What’s exciting about the structure of a cauliflower? Where’s the drama in a potato? Build these jewel-toned heirloom vegetable pop-ups and find out! Led by pop-up engineer Shawn Sheehy, this weekend workshop is about creating 12 pop-up veggies in a greeting card format, which are perfect for display or gifts. Beginners are welcome; experienced participants will explore new ways of applying fundamental mechanics to abstract forms.

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Livre d’Artiste d’Aujourd’hui: Interdisciplinary Collaborations

Do you feel like something is missing in your world? Do you often wish there was a piece, a total artistic collaboration to fill that void in your life? In that case – voulez-vous aller voir des livres d’artiste avec moi?

Livre d’Artiste d’Aujourd’hui: Interdisciplinary Collaborations, organized by Alexander Campos (Executive Director and Curator, Center for Book Arts) and Maddy Rosenberg (Curator, Central Booking) gathers collaborations between artists and writers, performers, musicians, designers, storytellers, etc., and presents these resulting livres d’artiste.

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Zines+ and the World of ABC No Rio

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 — Take a look into one of the most anarchistic form of self-publication, where copy machines and staplers reign as tools of choice in this DIY, free-for-all guerrilla media.

Zines+ and The World of ABC No Rio, organized by Jason Lujan, is an exhibition that goes beyond the mere form of the zine, which is usually a cheaply-made and priced publication, often in black and white, mass-produced via a photocopier, and bound with staples. The exhibit presents and explains a range of these self-same printed materials, mixing both artists’ original creations with items from the ABC No Rio zine library archives, covering subject matter from arts-community history to political commentary.

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Artist Spotlight: Barbara Henry

The classes or events mentioned in this blog post happened in the past. It’s possible that we are offering a similar class or a similar event is happening now or in the future. Please view the Center for Book Arts class listingsEventsExhibits, or Contact us for more information.

It’s been a while since we last featured Barbara Henry, though we focused on her role as an instructor at the Center. This time, we’ll look at Barbara and her work with Harsimus Press.

When she isn’t teaching the ins and outs of a Vandercook press at the Center, Barbara can be found creating work under Jersey City-based Harsimus Press. Also under Harsimus Press, she has a series of Random Reports, a booklet of poems “constructed out of randomly chosen words and phrases cut from the dated first section of the New York Times.”

Barbara’s work has appeared in many Center exhibitions, including but not limited to: I will cut thrU: Pochoirs, Carvings, and Other Cuttings; Racism: an American Family Value; Illustrated Fine Printing, Whittington and Matrix in America, and among others.

In 2012, Barbara created Walt Whitman’s Faces, a mixed-media book including letterpress, linocuts and photography. Inspired by Whitman’s experience as a newspaper printer and interest in typography and printing, Barbara began reading Whitman’s poems through a typographical lens:

In 2009 I was asked to write a bibliographical analysis of the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass… While reviewing the text I encountered the poem entitled “Leaf of Faces”… Reading the poem with its new title for the first time, I was struck by the use of printers’ terms. Whitman had been apprenticed to a newspaper printer at the age of twelve and always took a personal interest in the design and typography of his books. “Faces”, I thought, might refer to type faces. The critical history of the poem emphasized human physiognomy and did not include references to typography. I approached Karen Karbiener, the Whitman scholar who had asked me to write the analysis, and she encouraged me to pursue this idea. For me, it was a way to use my typographical training — and my experience of nineteenth-century letterpress technology — to promote a more complete understanding of a poem that had been heretofore neglected by scholars.


Fittingly, Barbara will be leading a Summer Intensive in Visual Poetry and Letterpress. The class will explore the complex relationships between text and image, semantic meaning and visual composition while reshaping ideas about what poetry can be.

Making Sense of Asemic Writing

Image: Henri Michaux Narration (excerpt) 1927

Did you know that there’s a category for your scribbles, markings and even the scratches you make to get your pen ink flowing? Better known to the layperson by the process in which they were made, asemic writing is the term for those not-quite legible things we write, accidentally or not.

It seems too easy to write off asemic writing is a result of someone having a few drinks too many, but there is historical evidence showing just that.

Meet ‘Crazy’ Zhang Xu, a Tang Dynasty calligrapher who was a fan of combining booze with calligraphy (shaken, not stirred). Zhang’s cursive has been described as ‘explosive’, inspired by sword-dancing and fighting porters. ‘Crazy’ Zhang, along with Huai ‘Drunk’ Su, are considered the greatest cursive calligraphers and perhaps the Harold and Kumar of the Tang Dynasty.

While these and similar works have existed for a long time, the term ‘asemic writing’ emerged in the late 1990’s. The word ‘asemic’ means “having no specific semantic content,” and it is important to emphasize that asemic writing has semantic form, but it may not be specific or limited to one particular language. In an interview with Asymptote JournalMichael Jacobson (curator of The New Post-Literate, a gallery of asemic writing) describes it as:

The forms that asemic writing may take are many, but its main trait is its resemblance to ‘traditional’ writing—with the distinction of its abandonment of specific semantics, syntax, and communication. Asemic writing offers meaning by way of aesthetic intuition, and not by verbal expression. It often appears as abstract calligraphy, or as a drawing which resembles writing but avoids words, or if it does have words, the words are generally damaged beyond the point of legibility. One of the main ways to experience an asemic work is as unreadable, but still attractive to the eye. My point is that—without words, asemic writing is able to relate to all words, colors, and even music, irrespective of the author or the reader’s original languages; not all emotions can be expressed with words, and so asemic writing attempts to fill in the void.

Not unlike Crazy Zhang and Drunk Su, Jacobson has a contemporary who curates a great asemic writing resource: Tim Gaze and his Asemic Magazine. The website has the issues of the magazine archived, and they are fully viewable on the web.

Announcement: Facilities Renovation

Starting next week, The Center for Book Arts will be undergoing long-awaited facility renovations. We are pleased to announce that by mid-July, our bathroom will be renovated, complete with an ADA-compliant working sink.

We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to the New York State Council on the Arts and the private donors who made these changes possible.