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by Brad Freeman
►In this issue, the basic question posed to each artist was—How does your studio practice inform your work? How does working in the studio affect the ideas and final manifestation of an artwork, specifically an artist’s book? Nine artists agreed to participate, responding with text and images concerning the ways particular projects were formed in part by time spent in the studio.
► The creative process takes place over time and is influenced by many factors. Sometimes it’s difficult to know the exact beginning of a particular project or how certain decisions come about. Other times these issues are very clear. An artist’s statement about a certain project may come close to identifying the subject of this JAB, except that the nitty-gritty of MAKING is the ultimate goal, while at the same time knowing that it would be difficult not to include information about the process from conception—gathering material—writing—making images—making dummies—all the way through production. Within this continuum of creativity projects expand and grow into new projects. A web-like ideational structure grows in your little brain—
► Included in this issue are the Book of Ruth, and a poster of Eugene Feldman of Falcon Press in Philadelphia. Ruth Laxson—poet, artist, printer—produced a large body of imaginative work joining text and image in a critical assessment of contemporary life. She began making art at the age of sixty-three and called her imprint Press 63+. (This serves as an inspiration in our youth-oriented consumer culture.) I worked with Ruth on her book A Hundred Years of: LEX FLEX at Nexus Press in Atlanta where she lived. This was in 2003, and LEX FLEX was the last book printed at Nexus. The book explores the neologisms created in the twentieth century, intertwined with contemporary events ranging from the racism in Alabama where she grew up to George W. Bush’s war in Iraq that was just about to begin as the book was being printed.
► The special insert poster included in the printed JAB36 shows Eugene Feldman printing at Falcon Press, his commercial offset printshop in Philadelphia in the 1960s and 70s. He was one of the first to use an offset press as a creative tool, and said, “I use the press like a painter uses a brush.” If you search carefully you can still buy his books, which were ahead of their time.
► Offest Print Production Fellow Levi Sherman has compiled this issue’s extensive Books Received column, featuring a write-up of Josh Hockensmith’s book, Dr. Mr. Miracles’s Guide to Miracle-Making.
Johanna Drucker was recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her wide range of talents, years of hard work, and many books (both academic and artists’ books) make this award a well-deserved achievement. As most of JAB’s readers know she has been a longtime contributor and is on the Advisory Board.
JAB Board member and contributor Brandon Graham’s novel Good For Nothing was recently published. Good For Nothing traces a week in the life of Flip Mellis, husband and father, and an unfortunate victim of downsizing, out of work for a year and sliding out of control. At once a portrait of an all too human main character and contemporary America, Graham’s writing is hilarious but dark and foreboding at the same time. Read the book, it’s a page turner.
JAB had a table at the New York Art Book Fair again this year. Around 30,000 people attended the fair to view the work of about 200 publishers—a clear indication of the growing strength of independent publishing and cause for celebration.
The Offset Print Production Fellows (aka,“PPFs,”) for this year are Mary Clare Butler and Woody Leslie, and they printed JAB36 under my supervision. ♬ Jenna Rodriguez, Print Production Fellow Emeritus, came into the Center one day, and also printed JAB36, just for fun. Gotta like that. The “PPFs” are graduate students in the Interdisciplinary Arts MFA in Book and Paper here at Columbia College Chicago. ♫ Former “PPF” Levi Sherman wrote the essay Books and Conflict: Witnessing Reality and Representation for this issue (see printed edition page 37). Sherman discusses how three very different kinds of books—an artist’s book, a photo book, and a quasi sociological study from a poet’s point of view—“bear witness to the devastating impact of conflict.” ♬ Thanks as always to our intrepid webmaster Kathi Beste, also a former “PPF.”
JAB36 was offset printed on the Heidelberg GTO at the Center for Book and Paper, Columbia College Chicago in September and October, 2014.
The paper is Mohawk Superfine. The cover is a photo of my cat, working hard in my studio.
JAB37 (spring 2015) will focus on French publication arts with guest editors Aurélie Noury and Leszek Brogowski of Cabinet du livre d’artiste / Éditions Incertain Sens at the Université Rennes.
JAB (The Journal of Artists’ Books) is indexed in The H.W. Wilson Company, Art Abstracts, CSA’s ARTbibliographies Modern, and in Bibliography of the History of Art.