'Book art' coming to BAC
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:17 PM
"Flip books, tunnel books, accordion books. Books that open like flowers, unfurl like flags, unroll like scrolls.Conventional definitions unravel in The Artist's Book, which opens at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Nov. 4.This is an important exhibit, BAC staff member Victoria Josslin said, because we're seeing a form that's burgeoned internationally, but has never been shown in the West Sound. The display was conceived more than a year ago by Cynthia Sears, collector of 100 artist-made books, and Bainbridge artists Hidde Van Duym and Barbara Colven. Noting that artists' books had been getting support from curators, dealers and collectors for more than a decade, they decided it was time to introduce such works to Bainbridge. Director Janice Shaw, Duym and Sears approached Sandra Kroupa, book art librarian at the University of Washington's Allen Library. Kroupa suggested nationally-known Northwest book artists, including locals Mary Fontaine Carlson, M.J. Linford and Caroline Veenstra. Duym and Sears were excited, knowing they weren't just hanging an exhibit, but introducing an unfamiliar art concept.Artists' books are a subset of book arts, which includes book binding, letter press - anything related to the physical manufacture of a book. But an artist's book is one whose physical format becomes part of the content. In Wave Words, Margery S. Hellmann doesn't just quote passages about water from James Joyce's Ulysses - she shapes each page into a wave, making the form the visual embodiment of the text. Looking to Japanese art - like many book artists - she adopts the Sumi Nagashi technique, marbleizing the cover with watery swirls of blue. Curator Van Duym notes that artists have begun to experiment with the very structure of the book. There are visual images, unfolding pages, sequences of ideas, unusual bindings, molded cases. These experiments involve elements of the book one takes for granted. An artist's book is also hand-made. When books are mass-produced, many hands shape the finished product, from cover artist to binder. But an artist's book has unity shaped by a single artist. Often, they are beautifully crafted. Sam Garriott Antonacci's piece is an accordion-pleated book that extends just a few inches. Each page is a tiny landscape of exquisitely rendered foliage. The book as art is unique because it demands a one-on-one, interactive relationship with the viewer. This presented BAC with a problem: How best to promote audience participation, while preserving the art? Help came in the form of a grant from Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council to purchase display cases. Docents will demonstrate the works - unfolding origami books, and pulling the tabs of pop-up books. Artist's books have humor. One accordion-fold book has a real accordion for a cover. Another artwork has a candy-box format, each piece of candy a tiny book. They also look like the artist had terrific fun making them. As M.J. Linford says, With books, I get to work with a bajillion different media. BAC will host several events during the exhibit which runs from Nov. 4 to Dec. 3, including:Curator's talk with Cynthia Sears, 2 p.m. Nov. 4; artists' gallery talk, 2 p.m. Nov 5; slide lecture, Bainbridge Library - Book Art in the Pacific Northwest, Sandra Kroupa, 7 p.m. Nov 8; workshop - Creating Art Books with Found Objects, Caroline Veenstra, , 10 a.m. Nov 18; workshop - Self-Opening Flip Book 1 p.m. Nov. 19.For information, call 842-3132. "