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Re: BOOK ARTS IN THE USA Catalog, video & Conference
Many thanks to Peter Graham at Rutgers for the bibliographic citations.
Being an artist rather than a librarian I appreciate his expertise in finding
the info and presenting it in the correct form. When I sent Peter Verheyen the
excerpt I didn't know he would retransmit it and that people would actually be
interested! I confess I don't even know what "RLIN" is. Some things that struck
me about the entries:
1. The video catalog of the exhibit: Director & Producer was Peter G.
SEIDLER; the citation had his name spelled incorrectly.
2. Re Louis Silverstein's inquiry to the Center For Book Arts about this
title: If a caller asks for thst title, a person answering the phone will assume
that it is the video catalog which is being requested. That is the only form of
the title which the Center has produced,. It was out of stock, but more copies
have been made and it is available again as one on the benefits of supporting
membership in the Center for Book Arts. It is not for sale separately. This may
be unfortunate, but it has to do with the complexities of how it was financed
and produced. Otherwise it would not have been made at all. Inquiries can be
directed to the Center for Book Arts at (212) 460-9768, or sent to them at 626
Broadway, New York City 10012.
3. I will contact the Arts America office at the USIA the end of next
week and ask if there's any way they can donate copies of the printed catalog to
not-for-profit educational organizations and public institutions within the
United States. For those who have not encountered this problem before, it has to
do with the way Congress appropriates funds for the USIA, which stipulates that
the moey is for the dissemination of information about US culture in foreign
countries. That is interpreted to mean that they can't distribute books which
they paid for the printing of inside the USA, as it doesn't further the purpose
of informing aliens about our society.
4. By the way, it is not the "New York Center for the Book". It's CENTER FOR
BOOK ARTS. Center for the Book is a Library of Congress activity with entirely
different purposes. They do have regional branches, and encourage literacy and
interest in books, including some nice publications that support a broader
appreciation of the book as object. "Center for Book Arts, Incorporated 1974" is
the official name of the 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit corporation I founded 20
years ago. It predates the LC's Center. Actually, I believe the only other
organization in the world using "Center" and "Book" in 1974 was the Centro del
Bel Libro in Ascona, Switzerland, which taught and exhibited bookbinding.
Perhaps a scholarly subscriber to this list knows if there were any others. It
was rather a dry field in this country at that time, as older subscribers will
recall. What I felt was needed was a place where artists and craftspeople could
meet and interact, with exhibitions of contemporary and historical book
artifacts presented in the context of a working artists' studio where people
could take classes in technique and rent equipment they didn't have at home
(printshop, bindery, papermaking, etc). I felt that artists were making exciting
books rather poorly, and craftspeople were making boring books very well. Since
then many groups of similar purpose have begun, including Artists Book Works in
Chicago (started by Barbara Lazarus Metz, and now merged with Paper Press to
become Columbia College Chicago Center for the Book & Paper Arts), Pacific
Center for the Book Arts in the Bay area, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and
Book Works London (England). There are more, including the recent Alliance for
Contemporary Book Arts in LA. Not all maintain studios or even offices. Some are
communications organizations which publish newsletters, organize meetings,
etc.This leads to the third citation Peter Graham found, which is the Conference
Summary. The summary is in print and is available from the Center for Book Arts.
The conference had two purposes: to bring together the executives of the book
arts organizations nationwide to see if there was potential for cooperative
activities, and to present a survey of current developments nationwide in the
field as visual art. The orientation was non-academic, with no craft or
technical presentations or furums (no how-to) and included many slide
presentations by regional and national artists' organizations.
5. . A further note about Names: The Center welcomes all new
organizations into the Book Arts community, and encourages and cooperates with
anyone wishing to build an organization. The staff and I have helped many
enthusiasts with information about government and foundation funding,
administration, building membership, etc., and we were instrumental in having
Book Arts recognized as a grant category in 1976. But the CENTER FOR BOOK ARTS
is the only organization which may use that name unmodified. Its attorney has
enforced that as other organizations have developed and attempted to use the
name. Regional and University centers can use the name with a modifier (e.g.
Nebraska Center for Book Arts). Whenever CENTER FOR BOOK ARTS or THE CENTER FOR
BOOK ARTS appears without a modifier, it refers to the organization of that
name, with headquarters in NewYork City.
6. My relationship to the Center for Book Arts: Many people still think I
run the place, but that has not been true since about 1978. I have not been a
member of the Board of Directors for over 10 years. Brian Hannon is the
Executive Director, and this week completes his second year in that positio. The
quality of its current programs and exhibits is excellent. The Board dragged be
back in as President (a staff, not a Board position) about four years ago,
supposedly for six months, when the (dis)organization was a bit out of control.
But a few staff changes cleared it up. They still keep me with the title and
dress me up for special occasions, but I'm a bit like Jeremy Bentham at this
point (I don't know if they still do it, but I was told that the school he
founded kept his corpse in a glass case and his will decreed that in the event
they lacked one person for a quorum of the Trustees, they were to enter in the
minutes that Mr. Bentham was present but not voting).