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Johanna Drucker has pointed out that artists' books are "at the intersection
of a number of different disciplines, fields, and ideas."  As a book artist
I tend to be focused on this intersection. But there are times I wonder:
what is going on just a block away? What are the influences that directed an
artist to the creative zone where artists' books take shape?

This is why Urban Motion, Alice Simpson's current show at The Interchurch
Center in Manhattan is so interesting.  It is packed with her imaginative
books reflecting her urban setting, love for dance, storytelling, training
in sculpture, and unquenchable desire to lap up every joy and experience
life has to offer.  In addition to the books, however, there many non-book
examples of her sculptures, plates, pins, posters, and a glimpse into her
dance heritage.

Dance, in all its variety, rhythm and moods, is the reoccurring theme. In
Rumba, Simpson has captured the oppressively hot, close, moist nature of the
dance that the teacher in the recent movie Shall We Dance calls "a vertical
expression of a horizontal wish." For other books Simpson has incorporated
layered sheets of wood, pastepaper, leather, silk, beads and an assortment
of papers to provide a foundation against which her painted and printed
dancers can swirl, tango, swing, and just plain get down and dirty.

Simpson comes by her interest in dance honestly.  The show includes a video
clip from the 1939 movie One for the Books featuring the rubbery, shuffling
feet of her father, Hal Sherman.

In contrast to the books, the sculptures from Simpson's Hip Hop Series are
firmly rooted to the ground and their urban environment. The imposing
figures huddle, lurk, and snarl at the viewer.  Urban Legend is a
basketball-sized head whose pinched features cluster close together and
create a glare of utter distain.  From what corner of Simpson's imagination
did this threatening presence emerge?

Less imposing, and more in the spirit of the dance books, Hip Hop captures a
solo dancer with rumbled pants, baggy shirt and squiggly hair lost in a
moment of inspired improvisation.

The show is on exhibit until this Saturday.  If you are in Manhattan, check
out the multi-dimensional, multi-directional artistic talent of Alice

Ed Hutchins

                       Spring[binding] Hath Sprung
                     Exhibition Catalog Now Online.

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