April 16th, 2013
Well, better late than never. We just wanted to let you know that we have adjusted the Reading Room hours slightly for the Spring Quarter. We are now open from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Thursday and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Friday. Of course, as always, we make accommodations for late classes or people who are not available during our open hours. Just let us know how we can help.
January 15th, 2013
We recently received a shipment of books from Printed Matter in New York. We order limited edition graphic novels, artists’ books, and zines from them. I was surprised that we received most of the materials we ordered, because after we submitted the order, we heard that disaster in the form of Hurricane Sandy had struck the non-profit.
Printed Matter is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of publications made by artists. Founded as a for-profit alternative arts space in 1976 by artists and artworkers, Printed Matter reincorporated in 1978 to become the independent non-profit organization that it is today… Recognized for years as an essential voice in the increasingly diversified art world conversations and debates, Printed Matter is dedicated to the examination and interrogation of the changing role of artists’ publications in the landscape of contemporary art.
Printed Matter’s mission is to foster the appreciation, dissemination, and understanding of artists’ publications, which we define as books or other editioned publications conceived by artists as art works, or, more succinctly, as ‘artwork for the page.’ Printed Matter specializes in publications produced in large, inexpensive editions and therefore does not deal in ‘book arts’ or ‘book objects’ which are often produced in smaller, more expensive editions due to the craft and labor involved in their fabrication. –From the Printed Matter website.
Printed Matter maintains a public reading room, a wholesale and retail distribution center, and gallery space. They publish, host book readings, and lectures. They participate in larger book events as well. Their participation in educational outreach has been a vital part of the definition and awareness of Artists’ books.
The other day, NPR reported on the over $200,000 worth of damage that occurred during Hurricane Sandy. The Chelsea store was flooded and about 9000 books were destroyed. Volunteers came from all over to help out and managed to salvage a number of boxes of wet materials. With the aid of a grant, these were sent to a restoration company called Polygon, where the materials were freeze dried to remove the water. Printed Matter will need to find new storage space that is not in a basement and a benefit auction is planned for the spring. You can listen to the broadcast or read a transcript of the story.
August 15th, 2012
A collection of books on British History and Literature came to the library recently and we have been cataloging them. There are some great titles and some truly historic works in this collection donated by Earle W. Newton. More of the Newton Collection can be seen at the SCAD Museum in the form of British Portraiture and Maps.
Somehow mixed in among the British titles are a number of works by Mark Twain. It was unexpected to find them with the British literature, but I suppose it should not have been too big of a surprise. Twain’s works were as popular in England as they were in the United States, and many of the titles were published simultaneously in London and in the US.
The books in the collection are largely first editions in various states. Trying to interpret state provides a fascinating look into the publishing world of the time. The difference in value between first edition, first state, and first edition, second or third state can be thousands of dollars, so it helps to know what state you have. But some of the differences are very subtle and some are disputed as to whether a small mark in the frontispiece indicates first or second state.
Examining the books for the small details of state allows one to read tiny excerpts. Most of us read at least one book by Twain in school such as the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. We may nostalgically remember that they were comical and sometimes sweet while at the same time providing biting social commentary. Even if the situations seemed dated, the humor was always relevant, the style so easy to read, and the stories seemed timeless. Come in to take a look at some of these Twain classics. Of course, we have most of Twain’s work available as e-books through the Library’s catalog also.
August 1st, 2012
A few months ago, we received several new graphic novel titles, including two immensely oversized books by Gary Panter. Shortly after that, we had a class come in to look at Medieval manuscripts and the professor also asked if we could get out some modern books influenced by the Medieval. These new graphic novels certainly contained a lot of imagery and symbolism that could be related and they were a hit with the class as well.
Gary Panter was born December 1, 1950 in Durant, Oklahoma. He went to school in Texas, lived in California for a while, and now resides in Brooklyn. In trying to understand Gary Panter, it should be noted that he defies categorization into any genre, and he is an amazingly prolific artist.
He became noticed in the 1970s as a California punk designer of flyers and album art for various bands. At that time, he also exhibited his first major paintings and continues to paint. Panter and Pee Wee Herman began a long collaboration and he designed the sets and puppets for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, which garnered him several Emmy awards in the 1980s. He contributed to Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly’s Raw magazineand other comic anthologies. He became a legend in punk and underground comics, influencing such people as Matt Groening. In the 1990s, he published seven issues of his Jimbo comic book. He had designed Jimbo in the 1970s as a sort of alter-ego. He also is a musician and a designer and stager of light shows. And he makes sculptures. This is not an exhaustive list.
In addition to comics, Panter has also published several books featuring Jimbo. Special Collections has the Fantagraphics limited editions of two of them: Jimbo in Purgatory, published in 2004, and Jimbo’s Inferno, published in 2006. Each book is signed and numbered and has a block engraving tipped in. These books are loosely based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. In Jimbo in Purgatory, Jimbo meets icons such as Frank Zappa, John and Yoko, robots and dragons. Each character is a stand-in for a character in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
In Jimbo’s Inferno, Panter borrows dialogue as much from from Lewis Carroll and Frank Zappa as he did from Dante. Hell in Panter’s version is a giant shopping mall called Focky Bocky. Jimbo’s Inferno was awarded the American Book Award in 2007. Panter was the second Fantagraphics published author to win the prestigious award. Joe Sacco’s Palestine was a recipient in 1996.
“Don’t try to pass a pop quiz on Dante’s Hell based on a reading of this comic,” … “It won’t work. Even though the comic is engorged with Dante’s Hell and though Jimbo mouths a super-condensed version of what happens in The Inferno, canto by canto, characters are fused, actions inverted, parodied, subject to mutation by my odd memories and obsessions and whims…” Source
In addition to the Jimbo books, Special Collections holds a copy of an artists’ book, Facetasm : h simulated and real by Gary Panter and Charles Burns. We also have a number of issues of Raw magazine, which he contributed to.
Charles Dana Gibson was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts to a politically active family in 1867. His father was a Civil War Lieutenant and an amateur artist. During a childhood illness, Gibson’s father showed him how to make silhouettes of people and animals. At the age of 12, Gibson entered and won a local art competition. Recognizing his early talent, his parents enrolled him in New York’s Art Students League. After two years of study, he sold his first pen and ink sketch to John Ames Mitchell at Life magazine. It was a cartoon of a dog baying at the moon. Mitchell did not think the work was well executed, but felt the artist had honesty and courage and gave him a chance.
Gibson steadily improved. He sold work to other major magazines and was called on to illustrate books as well. By 1889, he had saved enough to go to Europe to study there. He came back in 1890 to contribute regularly to a number of publications, including a weekly submission to Life. Gibson’s most celebrated figure, the Gibson Girl, had her early appearances in Life around this time. She was a beautiful, confident, athletic, thoroughly modern woman. She was kind but did not suffer fools gladly. She epitomized the turn-of-the-century American ideal of a truly American aristocracy. Not only was she immensely popular, she soon became a marketing bonanza and appeared on a wide variety of items, even wallpaper.
Gibson married Irene Langhorne in 1895. His elegant new bride and her sister, Nancy Astor, served as inspiration for his ever popular Gibson Girls. But even before the end of World War I, the Gibson Girl’s popularity was fading and began to be replaced by John Held’s Flapper, a more modern and fun-loving woman.
Though best know for his cartoons of beautiful women and befuddled men, Gibson also drew cartoons that addressed social and political issues of the day. He and Mitchell were fiery, pro-American war advocates, trying to push the country into World War I as early as 1914.
When John Ames Mitchell died in 1918, Gibson bought the magazine for $1 million. By then, the publishing world had changed, encompassing a cruder and more cynical outlook. Life’s clean fun format caused it to struggle to compete. Even though Gibson managed to hire the most talented authors, artists, and editorial staff, the magazine continued to lose popularity. The New Yorker, publishing its first issue in 1925, copied much of the best of Life’s style and format, and wooed away much of its editorial and art staff. Gibson retired, turning Life over to publisher, Clair Maxwell, and treasurer, Henry Richter. By that time, the magazine had gone from a weekly to a monthly.
Gibson was the president of Society of Illustrators in the 1910s. During World War I, he headed a government agency that produced war posters. On his retirement, he began painting in oil. He died in 1944.
Charles Dana Gibson’s work is part of our digital project on the Images of Life. To see more, go to the Images of Life site. We also have a few books on Gibson such as The Gibson book: a collection of the published works of Charles Dana Gibson and we have a great collection of Life magazines with Gibson’s work.
July 23rd, 2012
Often, when we think of Artists’ books, we think of a book that is beautifully made and a pleasure to touch. But, Artists’ books can also be a venue that allows artists take on challenging issues and present them in a way that that is eye-catching and provocative. The book’s format draws the reader in and then the images or text allow the story or stories to unfold. Sometimes the stories alert the reader to an issue that he or she was only peripherally aware of. Sometimes the stories are so compelling that they have to be read, but afterward, the reader may wish she didn’t know those stories. She may wish she didn’t have to know how war does horrible things to good people. The library recently purchased such a book: Crossing the Tigris. It is an artists’ book that is a collaboration by three artists: Caren Heft, Jeffrey Morin & Brian Borchardt and three presses in Stevens Point, Wisconsin: Arcadian Press, sailorBOYpress, and Seven Hills Press.
One of the artists, Jeff Morin, describes it this way: “A narrative in three books recounting soldier’s stories from the Iraq War. This is a collaborative project between Jeffrey Morin, Caren Heft, and Brian Borchardt. The collaborators each found stories in the media that recount horrific situations that are inconceivable to those who work regularly with current or former soldiers who happen to be students or artists.”
A statement by the presses about the book: “The container for this collaboration is meant to embody the conundrum of this person who transforms into a beast capable of horrendous acts against innocents. The outside of the container is collaged in the same way that a boy might decorate his hiding place for treasures found. The elements, like currency, targets, or stamps, are in the realm of childhood values. The inside of the container sets the stage for juvenile battle. These are the props for pretend war. When confronted with the grittiness of war, do these ill-prepared young men simply break with realty? Are they taught that they are above the law? Or do they learn to devalue what is not obviously American? Neither the container nor the three books answer the questions posed above. We all know young soldiers who have served or those who could serve. This collaboration is intended to catalyze a conversation about the nature of change that allows potentially decent people to commit indecent acts.”
If you want to see more, or want to study the text, the artists have provided images of every page of all 3 volumes on the sailorBOYpress site. The 3 volume book was published in 2011 in an edition of 60. Jen Library’s Special Collections copy is number 27. Each 36 page book is letterpress printed with collage elements and inclusions. The books utilize handmade paper and hand sewn bindings and are presented in a four sided drop letter fold box, tied with twine.
July 16th, 2012
Our newest digital project, Images From Life, brings some of the classic cartoons, covers, and ads from the first Life magazine out from the archives. Life magazine was founded January 4, 1883 by John Ames Mitchell and Andrew Miller in a New York artist’s studio. Miller served as secretary-treasurer and managed the business side. Mitchell, an illustrator, served as its publisher. He invested in a revolutionary new printing process using zinc-coated plates which improved the reproduction of illustrations and artwork. This helped give Life an edge over its completion from the successful, established humor magazines, Judge and Puck. They hired Edward Sandford Martin, founder of the Harvard Lampoon, as the first literary editor.
Their introductory issue had the motto: “While there’s Life, there’s hope.” They let the readers know that while they would address issues of politics, fashion, society, religion, literature, etc., they would do so with “casual cheerfulness,” speaking fairly, truthfully, and decently. They also wanted to have fun.
By 1893, Life magazine decided to construct its own building. It included studio space and apartments for the artists, to create home within Life’s home. The firm of John Mervyn Carrere and Thomas Hastings created a Beaux Arts building and contracted Philip Martiny to create a sculpture for the entrance of the building. He created Winged Life, the cherub that became the symbol of Life magazine throughout its existence. The building now serves as the Herald Square Hotel. If you go to their site, you will find a lot of information on Life magazine and its artists.
Many famous illustrators and authors were contributors to Life. One of the most important was Charles Dana Gibson who sold his first contribution, an illustration of a dog outside his kennel howling at the moon, to Life for $4. Gibson’s most celebrated figure, the Gibson Girl, had her early appearances in Life in the 1890s. She soon became the nation’s feminine ideal and earned a place in history. Robert Ripley published his first cartoon in Life in 1908 and Norman Rockwell’s first cover for Life was published in 1917. Dr. Seuss submitted cartoons in the late 1920s.
After World War I, the publishing world changed, encompassing a cruder and more cynical outlook. Life’s clean fun format caused it to struggle to compete. Even though they managed to hire the most talented authors, artists, and editorial staff, the magazine continued to lose popularity. The New Yorker, publishing its first issue in 1925, copied much of the best of Life’s style and format, and wooed away much of its editorial and art staff. Though its staff tried hard to keep current, it fought to make a profit in the 1930s. Henry Luce purchased Life in 1936 for its name only.
With Images From Life, we wanted to share some of the legendary art and artists with the SCAD community. Some of the artists are well known, some are not so well known. We also wanted to share some of the advertisements in Life. They are very informative of the time period. If you want to find the collection directly, we will add a link soon, but for now, use the link on the Library’s catalog page for the Don Bluth Collection of Animation. When you get to the Bluth Collection, click on the home option at the top and this will bring you to all of the collections. Just select the Images From Life icon with the cherub. This is a fascinating look at advertising and cartooning history, and we hope you will enjoy looking at is as much as we enjoyed bringing the project to you. We have barely touched the surface of the materials that are available from Life, and are going to continue to add new images as time permits!
June 7th, 2012
A couple of years ago, we ordered an interesting artists’ book by a cooperative of Mayan men and women in Chiapas, Mexico, called The Portable Mayan Altar. In a box shaped like a Mayan thatched roof hut with its blend of art, poetry, magic, and culture, it was an instant hit. The vendor’s information mentioned that the cooperative was called Taller Leñateros, and it was founded by Ambar Past. A little research on the internet helped us to find that Ambar Past was an American who went to Mexico as a teacher of natural dye techniques for the National Indian Institute. She traveled to remote areas, eventually making her home in San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the highlands of Chiapas. There she founded a graphic arts collective, Taller Leñateros, which makes paper and books.
Part of her work for the past 30 years has been collecting, recording, and translating Tzotsil poetry and music, and collaborating on bilingual anthologies published by Taller Leñateros. The collective recycles a variety of materials to make handmade paper, some of which is sculpted into various sculptural shapes as book covers. They also silk-screen the illustrations for the books, then print and bind the books.
We decided to further explore the publications of this seemingly unlikely publisher of artists books and recently purchased two more. Here is a little about each of them:
Incantations by Mayan Women, Fathermothers of the Book: Ámbar Past with Xun Okotz and Xpetra Ernándes.
OVER A HUNDRED AND FIFTY PEOPLE COLLABORATED to write, illustrate, and create this book, among them singers, seers, witchwives, washer women, sugar beer brewers, conjurers, native bearers, prayer makers, soothsayers, sorceresses, dyers, diviners, hired mourners, spinners, shepherdesses, babysitters, millers, maids, bookbinders, spellbinders, cornharvesters, great-grandmothers, sharecroppers, necromancers, exorcists, coffee pickers, potters, crazy women, midwives, planters, woodlanders, bonesetters, troublemakers, spiritualists, mothers-in-law, peddlers, gravediggers, fireworks makers, drinkers, hags, beggars, bakers, basket weavers, shamanesses, liars, computers, comagres, sculptresses, muses, and even men. We have made this book “as we make our children,” in the words of Petú Xantis, “with the strength of our flesh and the birds of our heart.
From “Notes on the Creators” essay in the book. The three-dimensional cover is modeled after the face of Kaxail, Mayan goddess of the wilderness, and made of recycled cardboard mixed with corn silk and coffee. The book itself is in several parts. The incantations are in English and in Tzotzil. There are over 70 pages of original silkscreen illustrations by Mayan painters and it is estimated that the book took 30 years to create.
Portable Mayan altar: pocket books of Mayan spells, translation from Tzotzil to English by Ámbar Past.
A box shaped like a traditional Mayan house, holds the altar and its accessories: candles, candleholders, incense and burner, and three books. The books, Hex to Kill the Unfaithful Man, Mayan Love Charms, and Magic for a Long Life, are excerpted from Incantations by Mayan Women.
The books, small and bound in paper covered boards, have beautifully marbled end leaves and silk screened illustrations. The spells and charms are in both English and Tzotzil. Each book has a ribbon bookmark attached to aid in finding your favorite spell, like the spell to keep the dog from barking at your boyfriend.
Bolom Chon, [translation and texts in English, Ámbar Past with Sara Miranda and Tom Slingsby ; texts in Tzotzil Maya [by] Maria Tzu, Rominka Vet and Maruch Méndes Péres].
This vibrant book about the jaguar is marketed as a children’s book, but it is really for anyone. The text in both English and Tzotzil, is inspired by the song, Bolom Chon, about a magical creature. It has original silkscreened illustrations by Mayan artists and a jaguar with maguey fiber whiskers pop-up centerfold. Included is a CD recording of Tzotzil children singing with their grandmother. The cover, printed on an 1895 era letterpress, is made from recycled cardboard mixed with coffee. According to the Taller Leñateros: “The cover was stepped on by the Bolom Chon so its footprints remained as a testimony of its passing through the world.” It comes housed in a colorful jaguar case.
May 23rd, 2012
We received a number of new books artists’ books in Special Collections this spring. Several of these deal with events in the Middle East. Among them are 5 books by 4 artists whose books were made in response to a project by the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition. The project asked artists create books that would commemorate the loss of life and culture on March 5, 2007 on Al-Mutanabbi Street. On that day in Baghdad, a car bomb exploded on the street heavily populated by booksellers, killing 30 people, injuring 100, and propelling the contents of the book stalls, stationers, cafes, and tobacco shops into a chaotic whirl. The winding street, named after the famed 10th Century classical Arab poet, Al- Mutanabbi, has been heart and soul of the Baghdad literary and intellectual community. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition issued a call to book artists to work on a project to “re-assemble” some of the “inventory” of the reading material that was lost. Each Book Artist entering the project was asked to complete and donate three books (or other paper material) in the course of a year, ending in 2012. The books were to contain of both memory and future of what was lost. They were to reflect the strength and fragility of books, and also speak to the endurance of the ideas within them.
This call to book artists commenced on September 1st, 2010 and ran until September 1st, 2011. Book artists have one year from the date they respond to the call to complete their work of three books. Some of the books will not be finished until September of 2012. One complete set of the books will be donated to the Iraq National Library. The other two sets will be used in conjunction with shows of the broadsides as well as in shows of their own to raise funds for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
The books at the Jen Library’s Special Collections include:
Not a Straight Line By Emily Martin, Iowa City, Iowa: Naughty Dog Press, 2011. Edition of 20.
“To read Not a Straight Line viewers must find their way along the linked books that turn this way and that, much as a meandering street would.”
Al Mutanabbi Street, March 5, 2007 By Art Hazelwood, San Francisco: Eastside Editions, 2011. Edition of 16.
“My book, starts with an image of the booksellers street. The next page begins a foldout which begins with the explosion in a death head cloud. Books flying are labeled with different bookseller areas of the world.”
Project Al-Mutanabbi Street, By Christine Kermaire, Charleroi, Belgium, 2011-2012
Series of three books:
Phase 1, Resilience of Al-Mutanabbi Street , edition of 300.
Artists statement “ …Any sound philosophy is mortally-stricken…” ( Immanuel Kant, Philosopher 1724-1804) With this sentence, Kant attempts to demonstrate that a sound philosophy must evolve, and not to persist into assertions. My goal was to (make) translate a philosopher “ banned “ in certain countries.
Phase 2, Memory of Al-Mutanabbi Street , edition of 300.
Names of people who were killed in the car bombing, inscribed around a endless screw and pulled by a red thread, vital lead. The graphics were inspired by the lintels of wood carving (“ham yo“) placed at the front of the houses to protect against “the wrong spirits” (Asia).
Phase 3, Future of Al-Mutanabbi Street, not yet published
Fractured Landscapes By Karen Kunc, Avoca, Nebraska: Blue Heron Press , 2011. Edition of 25.
Artists statement: “Various worn handset types are paired with excerpts from admired authors….The seeds of this book began four years ago in residency in NYC and continued slowly in Avoca, Nebraska.”
From the colophon: “In Memoriam, to those lost in disasters and tragedies everyday, everywhere. And to those left behind. Ever changed.”
April 27th, 2012
You may have seen some of Brian Dettmer’s work on the internet. He does amazing things with books. He cuts, carves, bends, folds, rolls, and glues books into new sculptural, unimagined shapes. He alters books such as dated reference books to intricately carved statements, providing a look into the book beyond what we normally see.
Recently, the Jen Library purchased one of Dettmer’s altered books, titled Geomorphology. According to Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged (found online), Geomorphology is the branch of geology that is concerned with the structure, origin, and development of the topographical features of the earth’s surface.
Brian Dettmer was born in 1974 and raised in Naperville, Illinois. He earned a BA in fine arts from Columbia College Chicago in 1997. Following graduation, he worked as and artist and and graphic designer in the Chicago area. In 2006, Dettmer moved with his wife to establish a studio in Atlanta. Design Boom took a look at his studio in 2009.
Explanation of Process
In this work I begin with an existing book and seal its edges, creating an enclosed vessel full of unearthed potential. I cut into the surface of the book and dissect through it from the front. I work with knives, tweezers and surgical tools to carve one page at a time, exposing each layer while cutting around ideas and images of interest. Nothing inside the books is relocated or implanted, only removed. Images and ideas are revealed to expose alternate histories and memories. My work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception. (Source)
For a look at more of Dettmer’s work, please visit his website.