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.

Here’s a look back at a few of our favorite moments of 2014:

40th Anniversary Colloquium at MoMA: The Collecting of Artists’ Books, October 11, 2014


Our 40th Anniversary kick-off event was a success, with sold-out attendance at four fantastic panels which featured a variety of prominent artists, collectors, librarians, and curators in the field of book arts. Listen to the audio from the panels as a four-part podcast on Bookbinding Now.
[Read more…]

Artist Spotlight: Iviva Olenick

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.
Brooklyn Love Map, hand embroidered map, 2011.

Iviva Olenick is a Brooklyn born and based artist. Iviva has exhibited at additional local venues, including the Center for Book Arts, Denise Bibro Fine Art, the Brooklyn Arts Council, and Weaving Hand in Brooklyn where she was the inaugural Resident Teaching Artist in Fall 2013. Her work has been included in exhibits at Fowler-Kellogg Art Center in Chautauqua, New York, the Mount Vernon Public Library in Mount Vernon, New York, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her work is in private and public collections locally and internationally, including the Schwartz Art Collection of the Harvard Business School. [Read more…]

Artist Spotlights: Ximena Pérez Grobet

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.

Ximena Pérez Grobet designs and supervises the production of artists’ books for her own firm, Nowhere Man Press, as well as artists books for other publishers around the world. She has presented installations at galleries in Mexico City and Barcelona. Her work has been shown in Mexico, Argentina, England, United States, Italy and Spain, where she currently lives.

Face the Face, Nowhere Man Press, 2007,
Silkscreen printing.

She has given artists book presentations in editorial Design in Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona as well as artists book workshops for adults and children in Abracadabra Books, La Central Bookshop in Barcelona and Madrid. She is currently completing an MBA in Literature, Knowledge and Art at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona.

24 Hours, Nowhere Man Press, 2010, Transfer on Japanese paper.

Besides being awarded grants in both Mexico and Japan, Pérez Grobet has won the Charnwood Books Prize, United Kingdom 2010 with her artist book 24 Hours, and the Banc de Sabadell Award for her artist book and catalog Incis de Mar Arza.

Art Deco in New York, Nowhere Man Press, 1994,
Letterpress, hand printed, photography.

Come see Ximena’s work and listen to her Artist Talk on Wednesday, August 6th, at 6:30pm.

Artist Spotlight: Béatrice Coron

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.

Béatrice Coron tells stories in illustrations, book arts, fine arts and public artShe cuts her characteristic silhouette designs in paper and Tyvek. She adapts her papercut designs in metal, stone and glass. She also creates works in stone, rubber, and digital media. Among many places, Coron’s papercuts were shown at Slash at the Museum of Arts & Design and she spoke about her creative process at TED

Her work has been purchased by major museum collections, such as the Metropolitan MuseumThe Walker Art Center and The Getty.

Béatrice’s statement on Cut Stories:

“Stories give meaning to everything, from mythical legends to journalistic reports, from marketing strategies to political ideologies: the story is always for free, and it’s the bait, the cure and the hope.
For the last 15 years, I have been exploring visual storytelling in artist books, paper cutting and public art. Collecting memories from individuals and communities, I stage narrative allegories in silhouette to create a dialogue with the viewer in playful fantasies.
These visual chronicles record archetypal stories that transcend time and space. My goal is to invite the public to pause and bring their own ideas finding personal interpretation to reclaim their imaginative powers.”

 In August, Béatrice will be leading a workshop in Papercutting Explorations at the Center for Book Arts. Listen to her Artist Talk on Wednesday, August 6th, from 6:30pm.

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

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.

Learn more about what may pop-up in this workshop here.
August 2nd – 3rd, Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm
No stranger to the CBA spotlight, Barbara Henry is back to lead our Platen Press Workshop. In this workshop, Barbara will show you how printing business cards and invitations is faster and more efficient on a platen press. Set lead type by hand, learn to fit it into a chase, and letterpress print editions of your own design. This class will offer the chance for students to use both our foot-operated treadle platen press and our tabletop presses safely in this comprehensive two-day workshop.
Press on for more information.
August 4th – 8th, Monday through Friday, 10am – 4pm
Got an intense craving for bookbinding? This week-long introductory course, led by Lee Marchalonis, will familiarize students with the basic materials (paper, cloth, board, and adhesives), techniques (folding, sewing, gluing), and history of bookbinding. Students will make several structures, including a pamphlet, a flat and a rounded case bound multi-section book, and a photo album.
Learn more about how you can sate that bookbinding hunger.
August 9th, Saturday, 10am – 4pm

A great way to master a skill is to teach it to someone else, and artist Jennifer Verbit will show you how to learn and teach bookbinding. Students will gain a beginners knowledge of how to use basic book binding tools and get some gluing tips, information on adhesives and paste papers. Gain ideas and methods that you can experiment with, and think about everyday materials in a different way. Practice folding and stitching that will result in many variations of pamphlets, accordions, and pop-ups. This class is open to all, with a focus on primary education teachers, after-school programming and specialized summer camp activities.
Learn more about becoming a student and master here.
August 9th, Saturday, 5 – 8pm
Hold on to your hands! Get trained to use both the guillotine and the printshop in a three-hour workshop. You will learn to operate the Center’s motorized guillotine paper cutter and care for our Vandercook proof presses. Topics to be covered include proper press inking and cleaning, roller height adjustment, changing the tympan paper, as well as the Center’s general rules for working in the Jane Mead Timken Printshop. 
Get a head start and learn more about this workshop.
August 9th – 10th , Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Expert papercutter Béatrice Coron takes the helm of this weekend workshop. During this fun packed workshop you will experiment with silhouettes, colorful collages, basic popups and paper sculptures as well as multiple prints. Learn how to use cutting techniques to conceive and produce works as different as unique illustrations, stenciling editions and dimensional work. Discover the many possible applications of papercutting to different materials from fine arts to public art commissions.
Cut to the chase and read more about this workshop and Béatrice.
August 16 – 17 , Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Curious about letterpress printing but not sure where to start? Wondering if letterpress printing is up your alley? Get your feet wet in this series of introductory workshops. You will learn basic typesetting and press lock-up, ink mixing, and press mechanics. Produce eye-catching letterpress greeting cards, while learning the essentials of good presswork.
Get acquainted with the CBA Staff and this workshop.

Registration for each workshop ends one week prior to their respective start dates.

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.

What is a livre d’artiste? The livre d’artiste was “traditionally” put together by a publisher asking an artist and writer (who often didn’t even know each other) to create work for a publication. The collaboration was usually an arranged one, and the production value was usually of high quality, produced in a limited run. For this exhibition, however, the curators are interested to see how artists, writers, performers, etc, have found ways to self-produce publications that fully embody the collaborative spirit embedded in the concept of the livre d’artiste. The exhibition will present the work of a true collaboration, not one artist responding to a finished work, but one in which both contributors have equal weight.

The exhibition will be travelling to MDC Galleries of Art + Design in Miami from November 17th, 2014 to March 20th, 2015. Presented to coincide with the Miami Book Fair International, there will be a related panel on paper and book arts in February. MDC Galleries of Art + Design is located at Centre Gallery (on the Miami Dade College Wolfson campus), at 300 NE Second Avenue in Miami.

Livre d’Artiste d’Aujourd’hui: Interdisciplinary Collaborations opens on this week, on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 and will be on exhibit until September 27th, 2014.

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.

The zines will be shown in the context of art in book form. The overall aesthetic reflects a Do-It-Yourself approach, firmly rooted in a downtown New York scene that celebrates volunteerism, art, and activism. The zine form lends itself as a tool for community activism and empowerment. And, through this exhibition that community’s voice, the lower eastside downtown scene, is clearly articulated.

About ABC No Rio

ABC No Rio is a collectively-run center for art and activism. They are known internationally as a venue for oppositional culture. ABC No Rio was founded in 1980 by artists committed to political and social engagement and we retain these values to the present.

They seek to facilitate cross-pollination between artists and activists. ABC No Rio is a place where people share resources and ideas to impact society, culture, and community. They believe that art and activism should be for everyone, not just the professionals, experts, and cognoscenti. Their dream is a cadres of actively aware artists and artfully aware activists.

The community is defined by a set of shared values and convictions. It is both a local and international community. It is a community committed to social justice, equality, anti-authoritarianism, autonomous action, collective processes, and to nurturing alternative structures and institutions operating on such principles. The community includes artists and activists whose work promotes critical analysis and an expanded vision of possibility for our lives and the lives of our neighborhoods, cities, and societies. It includes punks who embrace the Do-It-Yourself ethos, express positive outrage, and reject corporate commercialism. It includes nomads, squatters, fringe dwellers, and those among society’s disenfrachised who find at ABC No Rio a place to be heard and valued.

Zines+ and the World of ABC No Rio opens on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 . The reception starts at 6pm and the show will be on exhibit until September 27th, 2014.

Artist Spotlight: Barbara Henry

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. Register for her workshop here.

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.