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Re: women/men in book arts



Jennifer Lubkin wrote:
>how do we maintain our sense of community?

Women have not always been the bastions of community in the
book arts. One of the reasons I left the Guild of
BookWorkers in the early 70's and started the Center for
Book Arts was to get away from the "Pink Tea Ladies" and get
a sense of artistic community going. The Guild has changed
since then, but those of us who were around in the old days
recall the proprietary attitude the bookbinders had about
their knowledge and work. There was petty bickering about "I
was trained in the German method, and it's the Best"
(substitute French, English...). I believed in the American
method--learn everybody else's process and apply what is
appropriate to the matter at hand, and also had ideas about
art and books that were considered too radical for their
exhibitions. We are indebted to those ladies for preserving
the craft when it was between an industrial art and fine
art. There were a couple of wonderful women there, like
Polly Lada-Mocarski, who were above it all and knew what art
was about, but there was not the sense of community you feel
today. So I don't feel that it's about gender.

In 1975 I went to The First North American Hand Papermaking
Conference, held in Appleton, Wisconsin (the Dard Hunter
Paper Museum used to be there). Joe Wilfer organized it, and
the men and women who came had the sense of community you
refer to. It was a refreshing change from the bookbinding
world. Everybody was full of love and sharing.

I think the sense of community comes more from our
involvement in a collaborative art. Unlike the old days of
the Guild, many of us are involved at least part time in
collaborative book projects rather than in garret artist
isolation or dilletante craft worker pastimes. This means
that we may be working on a book with a designer,
typographer, printer, papermaker, binder, artist, or
whatever it is our role in the book demands. This act of
working with others is one of the reasons I have stayed in
the field.

The other is that most of the people you meet are interested
in books. Books bring us knowledge of other people's points
of view. Unlike a lot of the art establishment that has been
part of the recent discussion, our world involves people who
value something outside themselves.

The Abstract Expressionists had a great sense of community.
They always talked about art. I was fortunate to meet many
of them in Springs, before The Hamptons became the yuppie
paradise of mini-lot McMansions that it is today. It used to
be that there was no money in it, and de Kooning thought
$5,000 was too much to pay for a painting.

There is still a sense of community, but now there are rich
artists' parties and struggling artists' parties, and the
talk....

--
        Richard
        http://minsky.com

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