Don Frank – The Qtip Project

During this years’ MOP (Month of Photography), Abecedarian is exhibiting The QTip series by Portland, Oregon photographer Don Frank.
Don Frank - QTip Project
For the series Don photographed fellow artists, each in front of the same back ground, and each diligently cleaning out their ears with a Qtip. As Don notes,

this is a private task that is advised against by people who know better than us.  But we do it anyway.

In the words of Katherine Head, writer/editor,

Everyone is photographable.  Everyone has a story to tell, and it can be relayed without words.  But sometimes there needs to be a distraction for the person to share the truth.  Hence, the Q-tip.  
Frank chose fellow artists to sit for the Q-tip project, 26 in all.  Despite the near identical setup, the resulting portraits are as different as each artist.  Some are whimsical, some are contemplative, some are mysterious.  But they are all interesting.  A seemingly banal task, a simple part of many people’s every day routine, yielded surprising art.

Don’s work was exhibited in the 2010 Biographic exhibition, curated by Denver’s Master Mind and Action Figure series host, Katie Taft.

Don and Katie will be hosting Musical Chairs, a participatory performance and discussion on photography, at Redline on March 24, 60pm.

Don will be at Abecedarian on Saturday, March 23. So please, come by and meet the artist, from 2-4pm. Light refreshments will be served.

Jim Johnson in the Reading Room

Folios and Other Open Books

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The career of Jim Johnson is one of diversity of approach with specificity of purpose. Trained as a painter, early in his career he began to experiment with new media such as video, collage, photocopies, correspondence art and books. From his first exposure to the international Concrete Poetry movement in the late sixties, Jim’s work has consistently moved in the direction of discovery and away from expression.

Visitors to the Denver Art Museum have likely seen his book/installation, A Thousand Words is in the Denver Art Museum’s Permanent Collection.

He has created numerous one-of-a-kind books as well as limited and open editions, a selection of which is on display in the Reading Room this fall. The exhibit includes a selection of books using the versatile folio format. Jim works with the versatility of the folio, the notion that each collection of folios (or ‘book’) exists as both multiple sheets and a single object. He treats the form as a collection that can be read in sequence or disassembled and viewed or framed together or individually.

Other books in the exhibition are unbound, boxed or loose pages in envelopes that can be displayed in any number of ways. Several of his books are available as free online PDF files or are available on demand from SPOD publishers such as Lulu or his own site Discopie., Lulu and Printed Matter

Jim was a a member of the Painting and Drawing faculty of the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Colorado at Boulder since 1970. He developed the department’s Integrated Media and Computer Imaging programs and was instrumental in developing the Center for Arts, Media and Performance for the ATLAS Institute and served as it’s first Director.

Abecedarian will host an informal talk and reception for Jim on October 19, from 6-8pm.

Alice Austin – The Rome Project


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The Rome Project – on view in the ReadingRoom February 17 – April 7.

It is a pleasure to be featuring the work of Alice Austin in The Reading Room this spring. Alice is one of the artists who sent work out for the first show at Abecedarian, and her ongoing support of this project has been steady and is appreciated. For this exhibition, Alice came for the installation and opening night. During the reception she captivated visitors with details her most recent body of work.
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Alice Austin has been traveling to Italy each fall for the past several years. Although she has spent time in Venice, her favorite Italian city is Rome, where she has been a visiting artist at the American Academy. She takes with her only what will fit into her bright red suitcase; once there strolling through the city examining historical documents, public buildings and attractions.

As a library conservator (Alice works at The Library Company of Philadelphia, a rare book library founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin), her appreciation for historical records is well embedded, her comfort with historical documents a fact of her life. By all accounts, Rome is rich with history, and because Alice visits as an artist with a particular project in mind her visits take on quite a different aspect than were she traveling as another sort of visitor. Indeed, the night of her reception for The Rome Project at Abecedarian, a gallery visitor was telling me that her experience of Rome is that it is corrupt, noisy, expensive and difficult to navigate. This is hardly the Rome that Alice presents in her most recent body of work The Rome Project.

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This project began in September 2008 when Austin was a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. Her project was to study the 1748 Giambattista Nolli map of Rome and synthesize the character of the historic map with modern Rome. She set out into the city to record the patterns, geometry and textures of the Nolli map sites through photos, drawings and paintings made at prominent sites from the map. The first result of her work was a limited edition bookwork, Nolli, a map-book exploring the textural layers of Rome produced collaboratively with designer/photographer Jon Snyder.
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This modestly scaled book, presented in a what is sometimes called a meander book format, presents details that are later referenced in the large scale drawing suite and series of artists’ books. The front and the back covers show elements from the originally Nolli map, which was executed in 1748 as twelve copper plate engravings, each about 22 x 30 inches. Nolli had papal permission to enter all buildings in Rome in order to make accurate measurements, a project which took him over ten years. The back page of the book is a photograph of a litho plate of the Forma Urbis, the Roman map which was executed in stone. The red line that continues throughout the book depicts the shape of the city wall, taken from the handmade paper, and is shown on the reverse side of the map in white. The book also includes a detail photograph of the Nolli map, a watercolor of Bramante’s Tempietto, on which the design for St. Peter’s is based, photographs and prints of the Campidoglio pavement designed by Michelangelo, and a rendering of the first century pyramid of Caius Cestius, built when the Romans were interested in all things Egyptian. The back side of the map unfolds to reveal a drawing of historic Rome and Bramante’s architectural plan for St. Peter’s.
Alice-Austin-Rome04 Alice-Austin-Rome06Nolli was offset printed in an edition of 60, in collaboration with the Borowsky Center at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, 2010. Copies are available at this link ($150 each).

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On stunning display in the Reading Room is the installation of Austin’s suite of 9 drawings of Rome, each 22 x 30 inches, arranged in the same manner as Nolli’s Pianta Grande di Roma to make one large drawing measuring 66 x 90 inches.

Alice Austin - installing Rome ProjectLimited in palette, the mixed media drawings include ink, crayon, relief printing and transfer drawings on sheets of linen paper hand made at the Dieu Donne Paper Mill in New York City in 2009 especially for this project. During Alice’s informal gallery talks at the opening I learned that the name Dieu Donne means god given, which, given the scope and references of this project, seems appropriate. The paper incorporates a stencil pulp painting of the Aurelian city wall colored with dry pigments from Rome. Linoleum prints inspired by the Cosmatesque patterns of marble floors of Roman churches were inlaid during the paper making process. Cosmatesque takes it name from the Roman family Cosmati who made the inlaid marble floors in many of Rome’s churches using salvaged columns from the ruins of ancient Roman buildings. The ink drawings on the maps are of the historic center of Rome. The blue transfer drawings are of St. Peter’s basilica, designed in the Greek cross pattern by Bramante in 1506, inspired by the Roman temple, the Pantheon. The plan for the Pantheon is relief printed from a linoleum cut.Alice Austin - installing Rome Project

The final phase of the project to date is the production of several artists’ books in which Alice presents in various book forms several of the repeating elements from both the Nolli book and the drawing suite. A series of three unfolding map books, folded into pamphlet bound paper cases were made using sheets of the Dieu Donne paper. The covers are of handmade flax paper from Cave Paper Mill. They are either printed from linoleum and sewn, printed on vellum and sewn, or pierced to create a pattern.
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Rome is filled with patterns that have delighted Alice for years, such as an interlocking circle pattern. Alice uses this pleasing and well balanced pattern in several instances in The Rome Project, notably on the covers of the map books and on the interior pages of several of the books. The pattern seems to be a universal response to geometric repetitions. It exists all over the world, in Egyptian cloth from 2000 b.c., as well as in the mosaic designs in Rome.
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Also on view, are Austin’s Rome Panorama books, a series of five accordion books with cut floating panels printed and painted on Rives BFK.
Alice-Austin-Rome09The cover of each is inset with a linoleum print on vellum, or paper. These are individually available ($500 each).

Alice-Austin-Rome03Alice-Austin-Rome01Alice has also graciously lent two of her sketchbooks, bound in traditional limp vellum style, for the exhibition. These sketchbooks provide a detailed history of the project generally and her work methods more specifically.

It is an honor and a delight to be hosting this first presentation of The Rome Project at Abecedarian Gallery.

Look Again: Artists’ Books and Prints by Deborah Bryan

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An exhibition of recent books and prints by Tennessee artist Deborah Bryan. Bryan is on faculty at Tusculum College, Greeneville, Tennessee. Ms Bryan’s work was first exhibited at Abecedarian during the RE: (rebound, recycled, repurposed, reused) exhibit when she was awarded the gallery director’s exhibition award. Her work for this exhibition involves using plates, whether copper or wood engraving, as covers or pages, and involves presenting prints in an alternative format.

 

On display are both prints and books; the books, although created from a medium usually associated with multiplicity, are not editioned but are one of a kind books, using retired copper plates and woodblocks.

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Cercium

 

 

For me, the artist’s book provides an opportunity to present my work in a different      format, hence the title “Look Again.”  As a printmaker, I regularly find myself with a  completed edition and used, but beautiful, copper plates or endgrain maple blocks.  These matrices can become pages or covers.  Proofs can be recycled and  reconfigured as content for books.

 

Detritus series Indian PipesDetritus series Stems & Shreds

Music Bo(o)x exhibition in the Reading Room

Music and art. Music and books.

curated by Lynn Sures and John Risseeuw

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above: Duke Ellington by James Todd

 

on display in Abecedarian Gallery’s Reading Room, Denver, CO  US through August 6

 

on online here: http://bit.ly/jCzHLw

 

Several years ago, Lynn Sures and John Risseeuw realized that they both had created artist’s books based on jazz artists and compositions. Lynn’s VARIATIONS on the Dialectic between Mingus and Pithecanthropus erectus responded to the seminal work by Charlie Mingus and John’s TM

was a tribute to Thelonious Monk and his song Thelonious. John’s Modal is a response to Miles Davis’ classic Kind of Blue album. John also had prints on Monk, Gillespie, and other jazz greats, so they mused on having an exhibition of artist’s books and prints solely based on jazz and blues.

 

In Spring of 2010, the 87 Florida Gallery in Washington, DC, agreed to host such an exhibit and soon like-minded artists were located, the gallery contracted a local jazz band for the opening, and the first Music Bo(o)x exhibition was held to great reviews and reception.

 

It was not possible to tour the exhibit immediately and the work was sent back to the artists at its conclusion. But now a new and enlarged show has been selected. This time, the work chosen has been expanded to include books and prints inspired by other musical forms in addition to jazz and blues. Six of the original 10 artists were able to show work again, along with 5 additional artists.

 

This is a most engaging exhibit, especially for the music lover. Visual art and book work, responding to music and making the aural visual. You’ll see woodcut portraits of jazz musicians, lost in improvisation, by James Todd. You’ll be All Shook Up with Elvis in Karen Hanmer’s book of the same name. Ed Colker and Dave Brubeck actually collaborated on Open the Gates in which Colker responded to Brubeck’s music The Gates of Justice. Lynn Sures made pulp-painted, watermarked and printed paper in response to her immersion in Mingus’ Pithecanthropus erectus to interweave with the text of Rick Potts. Robin Price’s beautiful tribute to the classical guitar of Pepé Romero is an award winner. John Risseeuw has combined his distinct handmade papers, intuitive placements of text and image, and lifelong passion for the music to bring fusion and astute observation to his books and prints. Intricately hand-cut, strongly-colored papers arrive at an exuberant tempo played out in cj grossman’s cascading accordion book Morning Jazz. Barb Tetenbaum used her characteristically innovative letterpress technique to illuminate the musical score for four voices in Gymnopaedia No. 4. Don Anderson, late UW-Madison professor, spent a sabbatical year listening to jazz and drawing portraits of the performers. Mary Hark’s beautiful boxed portfolio with books and CD honors the extraordinary work of Ghanian palm wine musician Koo Nimo. And Steve Prince’s vivid, alive drawing/relief style puts us in touch with issues as well as the music.

Libri Bianchi

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Libri Bianchi by Lorenzo Perrone on display at Abecedarian Gallery, in the Reading Room, February 18 – April 2, 2011 in Denver, CO

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Lorenzo Perrone, of Florence, Italy has been engaged with the process of creating white book objects for the past 7 years. His works are created by a initially stripping down the selected book and thus removing all content. Using materials such as metal, glue, chalk and white paint he rebuilds the book into an object. A white object without title, without author, without any words whatsoever. Yet the primary form, the book itself, remains intact. These works become in a sense, a blank page, existing in the world as iconic objects, perhaps waiting for completion.

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Elizabeth M. Claffey recipient of Emerging Artist Exhibition Grant

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Abecedarian Gallery is pleased to announce the result of the 2010 Emerging/Student Artist exhibition grant.

 

Elizabeth M. Claffey is the artist selected from the applicants  by gallery director Alicia Bailey. Her work considers physical deterioration and the relationship between medical science and life experience. Elizabeth is a photographer and book artist pursing an MFA at Texas Woman’s University.

 

She states:

 

I have great faith in photography and human nature.  I believe that a photograph can tap into the most protected part of a person, where the vulnerability lies and the barriers break down to give way to understanding.  I try to focus my camera on the moments “in between,” those everyday situations that, separate from life’s climactic events, make up the moments that we often overlook even while pushing through them.  These are the moments that can reveal the truths of our nature, nurture, and circumstance, that allow subject, viewer, and photographer to relate.

 

This work is inspired by the content of a found object, as well as by my folkloric inheritance, which often describes the physical experiences of family members and ancestors. Through personal narrative, this series comments on broader issues of physical intimacy, trends in medical science that can have permanent effects, and the meaning of the body in a familial context.

 

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Her work has been recognized by PDN Magazine, Project Basho Gallery and various other galleries and publications including The Chronicle of Higher Education, USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and The Kinsey Institute.

 

On display are 4 of the 5 books in the Medical History series (the 5th is part of the traveling Photo Book Works exhibition which will be on view in 23 Sandy Gallery, Portland, Oregon through February). A catalog of the exhibit is available here. The series utilizes medical texts and reference books to explore family history and folklore through the juxtaposition of words, photographs, and pre-existing text.

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Also included are 8 images and a 28 image artists book from the series Remember Me.

 

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Remember Me is a project that explores the deterioration of physical existence and the changing lines, shapes, and textures of the human body. The images are made clinically, creating a physical closeness that is not sexual or familial, but rather scientific, suggesting a detached intimacy most often known by doctors. Despite the clinical approach to the image making, the subject inspires thoughts and memories that survive and even transcend physical being.

 

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Selections from a larger series Medical Record are installed in the center of the Reading Room These works are human scale images printed on hospital gowns. Claffey’s choice to present these images in this way makes avoidance of the reality of the aging body impossible for any who wander into the Reading Room during her exhibition.

My personal favorite of the works are the series of 4 Petri Portraits, each a a photographic image with an additional splash of color presented in a Petri dish. The dishes rest on elegant white columns, lit from within letting these works glow with a diffuse but steady illumination.

Abecedarian Gallery will continue offering this grant to eligible student/emerging artists on an annual basis. To help support this project, the gallery is offering a wide range of hand-pulled artist prints created by artists throughout the United States for $15 each during the month of January. Those unable to visit the gallery are invited to peruse some of the online offerings available for purchase here.