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Re: women/men in book arts

Dear Friends

 Iíve managed some reformation of my habit of being late- I get to work
on time- but thereís plenty more to go. So pardon me for entering the
conversation about men/women in the book arts after it has ended.
 A similar conversation started at a book arts talk I attended last year
and my immediate reaction was Itís about the money. Predominantly female
professions do not pay as well as male ones. The reasons can be debated
at great length as well as which comes first, the women or the low pay.
Because it is difficult to make a living at book arts, it often needs to
be combined with some other money making activity like teaching or
household/ society contributing activity like raising children, both of
which there are more women than men doing. I have friends who paint and
work with clay and I think I have had an easier time combining my work
with teaching and child raising because once I get started on a project
I can break it into parts fairly easily.
 As to the book arts community- I too have found a warm welcome. I think
that this too has to do with money or the lack thereof in the book arts.
I think of two exhibition receptions as an example of the contrast
between book arts and those fields that offer the chance of fame and
fortune- although the chances are about the same as winning the lottery
 A friend of mine from Oklahoma had an exhibit at OK Harris, a big
gallery in Soho. I went to visit another friend in NJ and we went
together. I wanted to show my support  and also to see what that world
was like. The gallery is a large one with several rooms, each with work
by a different artist. My friend had the front room and was exhibiting
an impressive installation of small wall sculptures. The rest of the
rooms had paintings. The work was all good but the atmosphere was
oppressive. People were melodramatic, pretentious,  and I got the
feeling they would have sold their mothers for a chance to have their
work on the walls.
 ďThese paintings are fabulous. I want to go home and just throw away my
 ďCan I ever paint again?Ē
 Oh, please. You could cut the competition in the air with a knife.
Seeing good work inspires me; I canít wait to get in the studio after I
see a really good exhibition. Itís not a race.
 The real kicker comment came from a friend of a friend of my friend
from NJ. We were introduced when I arrived and said a few words to each
other. My friend, the exhibitor, was being taken out to dinner with the
other artists by the gallery owner. When we were leaving the exhibit,
this friend of a friend of a friend said to me with disgust, ďI canít
believe you didnít find out where they were going to eat.Ē
 By contrast, I had work in Beyond the Fold, a book arts exhibition at
the Gallery of South Orange in NJ. I again attended with my friend from
NJ. We were both struck by the difference in feeling. The atmosphere at
this opening was warm and rejoicing. There was a sense of celebration
and of mutual admiration. Artists seemed happy to see good work by other
artists. I had the pleasure of meeting people from the list.
 I attribute the difference to both the position of the other arts and
the money or lure of potential money. Because book arts is still not
part of the mainstream of the art world, I think we all have a sense of
banding together to champion our chosen form. And even the most well
known and successful book artists will never reach the fame or fortune
of top painters and sculptors. I think the lure of that fame and fortune
attracts more people of more varied motives and maybe drives them a
little crazy as well.
 More money would be nice, but Iíll take sanity and support.

in good spirit,

Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord
Newburyport, MA


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