Thursday, September 23, 2010

Actualité: Open House @ The Center for Book Arts

Actions Speak Louder by Carolyn Thompson.
The speaking lines from this version of Romeo and Juliet have been cut from the book leaves, leaving only the action descriptions.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I went into the City to browse the galleries in Chelsea and attend an open house at The Center for Book Arts.  I heard about the Center a few months back, and I could not wait to check it out after reading about everything it offers (exhibits, courses, workshops, and letterpress-use.) The open house doubled as a closing party for the Center's summer exhibits: Poems & Pictures: A Renaissance in the Art of the Book (1946-1981) and I will cut thrU: Pochoirs, Carvings, and Other Cuttings. Browsing through Poems & Pictures, it was interesting to see the range of books, from the 1940s to the present, all of which had alluring illustrations. More than once, I found myself captivated by a spread, thinking how du jour it was. Then I would realize the book dated from the 1970s. Perhaps I am just drawn to a vintage look.

Once a good group had gathered, we were lead through a wonderful description of the pieces in I will cut thrU. This was a truly fascinating exhibit that covered all combinations of cutting and books to create artwork. One of my favorite altered books was Archaeology I, a sandblasted book made to look like topography, by Québécois artist Guy Laramée. The most notable piece was Béatrice Coron's Fashion Statement, a dress of letters and words cut from paper-like Tyvek.  During the tour, I learned that in book-making, the term pochoir refers to the use of stencils to create illustrations--makes sense since pochoir means stencil in French. I loved seeing the book Cosmogonie Intime / An Intimate Cosmogony. For each spread in the book of poetry, the left page is printed in French and the right page printed in English. Next to the centerfold of each page, an illustration was created using pochoir; the illustration was perfectly reflected onto the opposite page by flipping the stencil. The result is beautiful. You can see the illustrations and read more about the book on the website for Moving Parts Press.

Following our tour of the exhibit was the main event:  three artists spoke about their work. First was Béatrice Coron, decked out in one of her dresses, to talk about and demonstrate her cut-paper artwork. Next, Colette Fu showed us her stunning pop-up books. Katie Baldwin wrapped up the presentations by talking about her woodblock prints.

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