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Chicago shows

If you're planning to come to Chicago between now & mid-April/early May th=
are several book-related exhibits not to be missed. At the Columbia Colleg=
Chicago Center for Book & Paper Arts  (218 S. Wabash, 10am-5pm M-F, 1-4 Sa=
is the extremely witty & controversial show, "Beautifully Banal: The Last
Calligraphy Show." Curated by Tom Greensfelder, it includes work from two
dozen international calligraphers (including myself) with such dandy piece=
s as
Thomas Ingmire's gilded initial & ink text on a roll of toilet paper
(Artissue), Pamela Paulsrud's embroidered corset (The shape of your future=
and other thought-provoking pieces. Probably the most unusual entry is a
series of replies about the concept of the show to Brody Neuenschwander
(calligrapher for Peter Greenaway's The Pillow Book & Prospero's Books) wh=
opposed the whole idea of the show, from scribes like Donald Jackson (who =
doing the first ms bible in 500 years), Denis Brown, John Benson, Susan
Skarsgard, a.o.

The GBW ABeCedarium is up at the Newberry Library (60 W. Walton) but Paul
Gehl's complimentary exhibit of some of the ABC books from the Newberry's
collections is a rare chance to see some of the most important alphabet bo=
in the world, and that ain't hyperbole. There is a manuscript of a
geometrically constructed alphabet, Italian, ca. 1460, one of perhaps seve=
pre-1500 such manuscripts in the world=97the Newberry has three of them. T=
are 3 copies displayed of Giuseppe Mitelli's rare & haunting drawing/alpha=
book, Alfabeto in Sogno (Bologna, 1683), as well as the usual children's A=
from the 17th-20th centuries including Kate Greenway's well-known A is for
Apple Pie. But as Gehl points out in his labels for the show, ABC books ha=
always been used as a teaching tool, even for adults, and I found the
Abolitionist's ABC (Boston, 1856) both amazing and touching=97it begins "A=
for African, torn from his country," and Bertrand Russell's The Good Citiz=
Alphabet (Gabberbocius Press, 1953) amusing in a way I don't usually assoc=
with Russell's writings.

Beautifully Banal runs till May 7, The Newberry shows until April 17. The
Newberry Galleries are open Mon, Fri, & Sat. from 8:15 am-5:30 pm, Tues.,
Wed., & Thurs., 8:15 am-7:30 pm.
R. Williams

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