Eye Candy: Gabrielle Fox and Leonard Seastone

RBMS 18 Showcase ProspectusLast month I went to New Orleans to take part in the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) “Booksellers Showcase” at the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) conference. I was fortunate enough to be one of 40 ABAA booksellers participating. For more about the conference, and upcoming ABAA events, just follow the link below.

https://www.abaa.org/blog/post/2018-rbms

While there I featured an eclectic selection of contemporary art bookbindings, artist’s books, fine press, and pop-ups. Click here for my recent catalogs, including what I brought to RBMS.

Among the artists I showcased at RBMS were bookbinder Gabrielle Fox  and printer Leonard Seastone of Tideline Press. Definitions in the book arts can be fuzzy: Fox sometimes prints and Seastone personally binds most of his Tideline Press work.

Fox’s miniature, Haiku and Other Poems , a limited edition printed by her in gold on Japanese tissue, is one of only three copies specially bound by Fox and happens to be her personal copy. The book is housed in a matching box decorated with a triangular “button” made from Kentucky agate adorned with a pink topaz set in gold. Signed by both Fox and the jeweler, Dennis Meade, it is a precious gem itself.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The lovely recent collaboration on Ann Muir, Master Marbler is also a miniature. Printed by Seastone, the book was designed by Fox, Seastone, and collector/publisher Neale Albert. This tiny treasure was bound in a unique binding by Gabrielle Fox exclusively for Abby Schoolman Books and is a rare opportunity to own a collaboration by two contemporary book arts masters.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leonard Seastone’s interpretation of Ronald Baatz’s poem The Invisible Fly buzzes with interpretive interest, and has been lauded in Parenthesis 33 (the journal of the Fine Press Book Association) by David Esselmont, who said it “simply sizzles.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The collection of poems The Delicate Work of Song, also by Ronald Baatz, features ideograms by Guyang Chen. Michael McClintock, President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society, calls Ronald Baatz a “master…in the high art of the short poem.” Seastone’s printing and binding is just as masterful. The boards of Seastone’s binding are quarter sewn old growth Red Cedar, hand fashioned by him to accept the visible leather sewing supports. Lovingly beveled, waxed, and varnished, the boards glow with warmth.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Seastone’s MFA thesis project, Good Movies, was prominently displayed, too. Seastone describes Good Movies in cinematic terms; its large size mirrors the silver screen, and the reader participates in creating a film noir by turning the page. This oversized book was bound for Seastone by Jack Fitterer in 1988 using Seastone’s prints as the board covering material.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Boston Antiquarian Book Fairs

I’m just home from a disappointing weekend in Boston. I’m going to say something dreadfully unpopular: the standards of contemporary hand-binding, especially fine art binding, are depressingly low. I wanted to weep. I’m not sure who I felt sadder for: my professional colleagues, who can evaluate with ease the condition and the quality of craftsmanship in all other types of books, or for the binders who are far better than the legions of run-of-the-mill binders in New England. The general lack of discernment of dealers on the one hand, and the praise piled on the good binders on the other, gives no one an incentive to seek out master binders near and far. Exceptions on both sides, of course, and I’m talking about what I saw at both fairs over the weekend. I am aware that awesome binding is happening in the vicinity.

All of you can start shouting at me while I go scan pictures of Donald Glaister bindings from the exhibit catalog I bought in Boston. Stay tuned for some serious eye candy.

Manhattan Book Fair, Part 2

Rare Book Week is a big deal in New York City, where density is your friend. Three simultaneous book fairs, plus auctions, exhibits (like InsideOUT, for a very brief visit at Bonhams), and events the entire week. It’s a destination week in a destination city.

I showed my books at the Manhattan Book Fair on April 11th at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, across the street from the four day long ABAA book fair.
The book fair was fun and exhausting. My booth was constantly full of people eager to see and learn more about contemporary fine art bookbinding. I made quite a few new friends and saw some of my favorite regulars:
Lang, Christine, and Coleen
Bookbinders! Lang Ingalls, Christine Giard (creator of half the bindings I showed), and Coleen Curry
It takes more effort than you might think to create a small display like this:
Photo by Cara Schlessinger
Photo by Cara Schlessinger
The day before the fair, my temporary assistant, Michelle McCarthy, and I packed up all of my books and gear, and transported them 20 blocks to the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer. Then we began the really hard work.
IMG_2674

Here we are mostly unpacked and have put on my table cover (required but not provided). Michelle is sorting books. Please note that the display case is how we found it: filthy, no shelves, oddly placed brackets, and a temporary electrical hook-up. All normal. Not to worry.

Thanks to team Red Queen, we had plenty of paper towels and glass cleaner. Ooops! I forgot all about that. I didn’t need them at Codex. While Michelle cleaned the showcase, I mentally mapped the book layout, including shelf placement.  We deployed the tape measure, adjusted the brackets, and locked them down properly (a critical step to be repeated frequently). Then we carefully installed the glass shelves, well away from the slightly warm overhead fluorescent lights.

We start to place the books.

We start to place the books.

More books, and I change my mind.

More books, and I change my mind.

Photo by Diana Adams
Photo by Diana Adams

Am I laughing because almost all of the books are in the display case?

IMG_2683

The final arrangement, including iPad with videos of the kinetic features of Mark Cockram’s
Joseph Cornell: Shadowplay, Eterniday

Not shown: MAC slipcase by Sonya Sheats; TOR by Timothy Ely, Oscar Gillespie, and Robert Rowe; and L’ombre d’un cri bound by Christine Giard. Those three are strategically placed in the display cases of Red Queen Book Arts.