Posts Tagged ‘book arts’

Felicia Rice

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Felicia Rice, well known for her fine press work and collaborative books, celebrated 40 years of Moving Parts Press in December with a solo show at Felix Kulpa Gallery in Santa Cruz, California. Rice has worked with notable Californian artists and writers including: Francisco Alarcón, Elba Rosaria Sánchez, Juan Felipe Herrera, Enrique Chagoya and Guillermo Gómez-Peña. As Moving Parts Press, Rice has received the Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship, Elliston Book Award, Stiftung Buchkunst Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt Ehrendiplom, and grants from the NEA, CAC and the French Ministry of Culture. With Perseverance furthers: Moving Parts Press 1977-2017. Rice celebrates her history as printer, publisher, artist and collaborator. We visited the gallery to experience the work, talk about making books and working with other creatives.

Felicia Rice portrait

Whirligig: You started Moving Parts Press in 1977 as a printshop in downtown Santa Cruz. How did you come to letterpress?

Felicia: When I was a kid a friend’s mother had a letterpress in the family room. It was a little table top pilot press. I can remember standing in the room and seeing it, and maybe touching it.

My folks were artists and teachers: my mother was a sculptor and kid’s art teacher. I grew up in her art classes and was exposed to all types of fine arts. My parents were founding members of the Mendocino Art Center. My father was a mosaic artist in the Art and Architecture movement in San Francisco working with Lawrence Halprin. He did pool bottoms and walls. Later he made independent fine art animated films.

The critical point came after I had left home. I was living in Berkeley around the corner from David Lance Goines’ studio and letterpress shop. My mom accidentally sent me one of those San Francisco Chronicle Weekend Edition articles on “Letterpress Printers of the Bay Area.” Adrian Wilson, Jack Stauffacher–there were about five of them. She accidentally sent it to me instead of my older sister. So I’m reading this thing and looking in the window at what’s going on around the corner. I started thinking this might be something I could get into. It didn’t necessarily mean I had to stay with it. I was 18 or 19 and thought maybe I could learn more. I went to Laney College which had a print and graphics program. The instructor said, “If you want to be a printer you need to get into computers.”

It was a time when there was a lot of support for crafts. A lot of my peers who grew up in California were carpenters or in the trades, which were highly respected. And the newspapers listed a lot of jobs for printers; so I thought I could be a printer. I could get work. At Laney there was some old letterpress stuff, but there was mostly this idea that one would go on to computers. It was interesting. I had also taken a printmaking class in Oregon around this time. I thought I could go to school for this but if it was just a fluke I could change my mind and do something else. I started looking around for print programs. There wasn’t really anything going on in the Bay Area. I came down to Santa Cruz with a friend to visit the school, and a friend of my friend said there was a press in the basement of Cowell College dining hall. So we went down there and there was this beautiful letterpress studio with a Vandercook, type and floor to ceiling windows with a gorgeous view of the bay. That’s how I got started. Jack Stauffacher was teaching.

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Michelle Wilson

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Michelle Wilson is a papermaker in an extremely complex sense. Her work with paper is both conceptual and concrete as it extends from the making of sheets for artist’s books and printmaking to social practice, sculpture and installation. As a somewhat recent transplant to the Bay Area, Wilson has quickly embedded herself and her work into the consciousness of the local art scene with a residency at the School of Visual Philosophy, a Small Plates commission from San Francisco Center for the Book, teaching at both San José State and Stanford, engagement with a handful of arts organizations, and many exhibitions.

This summer, Wilson’s collaboration with Anne Beck, The Rhinoceros Project, travels to the Salina Art Center (Salina, Kansas), Shotwell Paper Mill (San Francisco, California), the Healdsburg Center for the Arts (Healdsburg, California), and later this fall to the Janet Turner Print Museum in Chico, California. Her work is included in The Power of the Page: Artist Books as Agents for Change at the New Museum of Los Gatos (NUMU in Los Gatos, California), and Pulp as Portal, Socially Engaged Hand Papermaking at the Salina Art Center in Salina, KS. Wilson has a BFA from Moore College of Art and Design, and an MFA from the University of the Arts, both in Philadelphia.

We got together on a lovely spring afternoon towards the end of the semester to talk about art and teaching.

Whirligig: I first became acquainted with your work in 2010 at an SGCI Conference in Philadelphia, occurring at the same time as Philagrafika, where I came upon a Book Bomb intervention in a public park. How did this collaboration with Mary Tasillo come about?

Michelle: Book Bombs began as a question I posed on Facebook. I was reading about yarn bombing, the tradition of knitting or crocheting something that is then bombed — left in a public space — a form of craft meets street art. I’m not a knitter or a crocheter; I’m a book artist, and so I posted a status update, “What would it mean to book bomb?” Mary took me seriously, and through our conversation, we discussed where people read in public space, who owns public space, and it led us to the idea of park benches. In Philly, every park bench has this center bar installed that is called the “arm rest,” but is designed to prevent a homeless person from sleeping comfortably on a bench. This seemed like an ideal place to install a book. Our project grew from this initial idea. And thus, Book Bombs was born.

Whirligig: What were you envisioning regarding the scope and effects of Book Bombs?

Michelle: We originally saw Book Bombs as just a project for Philagrafika 2010. However, we’ve had so much fun, we’ve continued. It’s been tricky to keep it up transcontinentally, but we manage. Most recently, we did a sort of intervention-workshop at the Center for Book Arts in New York called Keeping the Fire Alive. This was designed as a workshop for activists who were interested in using papermaking in their work, as well using it as a form of self-care against fatigue and for continued resistance. We’d originally proposed the workshop during the summer of 2016, before the election, thinking it would be a very different conversation.

Whirligig: How is papermaking used for self-care?

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Jody Alexander

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Jody Alexander The Artist in Her Studio

Santa Cruz based artist Jody Alexander is known for creating complex characters whose narratives are revealed through an array of artifacts which almost always include handmade books and are often exhibited as interactive art installations.

Her work celebrates collecting, storytelling, and odd characters.

Alexander has just completed two solo exhibitions: Jody Alexander: Sedimentals at Mohr Gallery in Mountain View, California; and The Odd Volumes of Ruby B.: An Installation at Saffron and Genevieve in Santa Cruz, California.

In the first half of 2011 Alexander’s work was included in: The Art of the Book at Donna Seager Gallery in San Rafael, California; The Book: A Contemporary View at Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts; Reconstructions at Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson, Arizona; Encaustic with a Textile Sensibility at Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah; and Masters: Book Art published by Lark Books.

Alexander has a BA in Art History from UCLA and a MS in Library Science from Simmons College in Boston.

Whirligig: How did you come to be interested in the book as an art object?

Jody: While working on my Master’s degree in Library Science in Boston, Massachusetts. One of my professors took our class to Harvard’s Houghton Library. He began by showing us medieval manuscripts: Book of Hours, Gutenburg Bible, Nuremburg Chronicles amongst others. Obviously, this was very exciting to examine these treasures up close, but then he started taking out artists’ books. I don’t think I had ever seen an artists’ book before, and if I had, I wasn’t really aware of them as a genre of art. I think that I couldn’t breathe for a little while. I had one of those moments when everything suddenly made sense and it was clear that this is what I wanted to do. I proceeded to do every remaining project in Library School on artists’ books: their history, collecting them, storage and preservation of artists’ books, etc. As soon as I graduated I started to make them.

Whirligig: Tell us about the first book you made.

Jody: When I was about eight or nine I know I made some small books. I used to draw a hillbilly family and type out their story on my green portable Sears typewriter. These eventually became little books. I’m not sure how I bound them. They were just little pamphlet books. They no longer exist.

Jody Alexander Eleven Exposed Spines
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Pod Post

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Pod Post, the mail art duo comprised of artists Carolee Gilligan Wheeler and Jennie Hinchcliff, has become an icon at Bay Area print, book, and zine fairs. Their presence is memorable in part due to their complete-with-merit-badge uniforms, their much sought after collectible mail art ephemera, and their passion and advocacy for all things postal.

In late 2009 their book, Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art, was published. It quickly sold out and has gone into multiple printings. Good Mail Day—a resource rich in visual, historical, conceptual, practical and hands-on information—was created by two inquisitively whimsical pods who know how to correspond.

Whirligig: What is Pod Post?

Carolee: Pod Post—the name—started out as a brainstorm when Jennie and I were on the airplane to Tokyo in 2005. We like alliteration, and we had been playing around with the concept of a pod as a carrier of potential. After that, we discovered that one of the early national mail delivery services was called Post Office Department.

Pod Post originated as an umbrella for our postal and correspondence obsession, and we started making things under that name, rather than our individual “press” names (Jennie’s was Bubble and Squeek at the time, and mine was superdilettante), to denote that it was a partnership separate from our individual work.

Jennie: Carolee summed up the idea of Pod Post nicely—the entity came about organically, based on our mutual love of all things postal and correspondence related. Once we started appearing together at book fairs and expos as “the Pods,” we quickly realized that there were plenty of other folks out there who were just like us: people who agonized over the perfect fountain pen, searched eBay for exotic airmail envelopes, and knew their postal carrier by first name.

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