Outwest II: SO CALled Books

vessel shaped book
Spirit Vessel (2001) Katherine Ng

An Exhibition of Artist’s books from Southern California

Out West II showcases diverse artists from Southern California who are making a distinct contribution to the book as an art form. The exhibit features works that resemble books in form but push the limits of what we might consider to be a book. The concepts of structure, deconstruction, poetry-in-motion and imagery have been explored through themes that range from the urban environment to the kinetic rhythm of flipping pages. A range of documented forms such as the scroll, clay tablet, girdle book, pop-ups, and a variety of media including pen and ink, photography, collage, xerography, prints, paint, wood, clay and metal are used to create these diverse works. 

by Gloria Helfgott, Curator

Southern California has a long tradition in artist’s books. The influence of the Fluxus movement in the fifties and sixties spurred local artists on the road to an involvement with the medium, When Ed Rusha’s “26 Gasoline Stations” (1963) introduced the unique concept of the book as an art form, many books followed and the book store at the Pasadena Art Museum was selling Rusha’s artist’s books along with those of John Baldessari, Guy Du Cointet, Suzanne Lacey and others, who were creating this accessible art form. The Woman’s Graphic Center in LA was producing artist’s books, offering classes and attracting artists such as Susan King and Mariona Barkus. Institutions such as Scripps College in Claremont, the Athaneum in La Jolla, the special collections libraries at the Getty Museum, UCLA, UCSD are among many involved in the book arts field. Judith Hoffberg, publisher of “Umbrella ” magazine has been a guiding light for the medium. Harry Reese of “Turkey Press” in Santa Barbara has been a leading figure and has been teaching book arts at UC-Santa Barbara for many years. This is a thriving, active community of book artists, producing uniques and multiple books and contributing to the richness of the southern California scene.

My choice of books are a collective biography of a time and place of which I have become part. The theme of the exhibition is diversity…visual and intellectual.

I have included various structural and visual books, eliminating seductive craft cuteness, instead emphasizing the integrity of the individual pieces.

The future? I see artist books becoming more sculptural, more wall oriented. The fine press publishers will experiment further in developmental imagery and structure and a few book galleries will come and go according to the marketplace. Public spaces and centers such as the New York Center for the Book will have to be the guardians of this form of art, teaching,
exhibiting work, encouraging and providing education to an audience that appreciates this art form.

The exhibition will be on view at CBA until the end of December and will then travel to the Special Collections, J. Willard Marriot Library, Univeristy of Utah, to be shown from April 4 through May 18. 2002.

Artists include:

  • Kim Abeles
  • Mariona  Barkus
    Get Under the Box
    mixed media
    7″x12″x12″, 1998
  • Jean  Berg
  • Terry  Braunstein
  • Carolee  Campbell
  • Barbara  Drucker
  • Linda  Ekstrom
  • Sam  Erenburg
  • Barbara  Hashimoto
  • Mary  Heebner
  • Gloria  Helfgott
  • William  Hendricks
  • Jessica  Holada
  • Susan  King
  • Katherine  Ng
  • Pia  Pizzo
  • Michal  Reed
  • Harry  Reese
  • Sandra  Reese
  • Sue  Anne  Robinson
  • Genie  Shenk
  • Janet  Shipper
  • Stephen  Sidelinger
  • Elena  Siff
  • Tim  Stempel
  • Emiko  Tanaka
  • Beth  Thielen
  • Yolanda  Valenzuela

Support for the Center for Book Arts’ visual arts programming is provided, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Exhibition Views

box with words
Get Under the Box (1998) Mariona Barkus
colorful collage book cover
Disney Color Guide to Good and Evil, Rich and Poor (1999) Kim Abeles
book with transparent overlays
Western Trilogy: Mountain, Canyon, Dune (2001) Mary Heebner
black book with face painted on the cover
Melancholia Passing into Mania (2001) Lezley Saar
black and red book in clear lucite box
La Vase (1999) Gloria Helfgott
books with piano keys on spine
Piano Dreams, Homage to Campion (1998) Genie Shenk
OLD (1992) Terry Braunstein
grid of four black and white images of geometric shapes
Twelve Quartets (1996) Janet Shipper
book with red velvet cover
Book of the Human Condition (1982) Stephan Sidelinger
book that looks like an explosion of color
Barbara's Book (unknown date) Jean Burg
book with color photos of a city
Evidence of Extended Vacations (1999) Elena Mary Siff
red collage with protruding shapes
Within (unknown date) Tim Stempel
plaster hand holds strips of red paper with handwriting
Fluid Paper, Letter Rivers (1998) Mary Crest
bible pages spun into rope
Vault (unknown date) Linda Eckstrom
bloue book looks like a curtain blowing in the wind
Book III (1998) Emiko Tanaka
accordion book arranged in s shape
Art Life, Too (2000) Sue Anne Robinson
white book with black figures
Where In Is Out (1998) Beth Thielen
colorful accordion book
Moyocoyotzin (2000) Yolanda Valenzuela
grid of drawings
The Playboy Reader (1995) Sam Erenburg
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