JAB45 | Spring 2019

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Artist Books / Special Collections
Special collections in some libraries provide a place to look at and study artist books. There are good things and not so good things about this. One very important function and a good thing is that special collections house the books in a safe place in which they will not be damaged and that, if in need of repair, they can be fixed and conserved. One complaint is that the books just languish in rarely visited institutions, unseen, unhandled, even though they are protected from the many ways books can be damaged. As demonstrated in three of the essays in JAB45 the collections at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) 1 are two places that, as part of their mission, provide extensive programming and outreach to make artist books more accessible━and being within educational institutions this availability provides the opportunity to experience artist books to an eager audience within the vicinity. Robert Gore, the Visual Arts Librarian at UCLA, Doro Boheme, Director of the Flaxman Library's Special Collections at SAIC, and April Sheridan, Special Collections Manager at SAIC have written about these activities (among other topics) of their respective institutions for JAB45.

Mounting exhibitions with guest curators is one way both UCLA and SAIC highlight books within their collections. Such exhibitions provide information about the books on display from people knowledgeable about artist books, art history and theory, as well as broader points of view. In her essay “BOOK=BOOK”, based on our 2018 exhibit at SAIC, Debra Riley Parr interrogates some methods artists use to make the physical structures of books essential to their meaning.

Also in these pages Neill Herring gives a succinct description of the work in the Guild of Book Workers exhibition at the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. There is a brief review of a couple of Augusto Mora's graphic novels. And Debra Riley Parr has written a review of some of the books by Thomas Sowden.

ABs in JAB45
There are eight artist books included with this JAB45. The inserted books are a critical part of JAB45, and should not be removed except to view them. I'm loath to write these too brief descriptions because each of the books contains so much more than can stated in the short space of this introduction. Clyde McGill, who lives in Western Australia, made the exuberant
H. Sapiens
━a powerful visual/textual poem that points out the destructive struggle inherent with humans. The message of F. Deschamps' droll Einstein's Swan: The Professor's Lecture also has a serious side that questions how we know things, or believe we know things. Thomas Sowden's THIRTY-SIX VIEWS OF #MTFUJI continues his exploration of the possible spin-offs of Ed Ruscha's work, mixed with Hokusai and Hiroshige, and with a sense of humor━for one thing there are only fifteen views in Sowden's version. Finally there are five little books inserted in one envelope━these books are all from faculty/staff at Bath Spa University. Clare Day's ink blot bug book is a smart and beautiful exploration of the liminal zone between representation and abstraction. Hazel Grainger's Natural Selection or Everything You'll Never Know is a wry rendition of the decisions and consequences of things we keep, things we throw away, how we know, and what we value. Matthew Robertson's william points transforms a dart game in a loud bar into a visual/textual poem about communication gone awry through fragmentation━an all too human phenomenon. Martin Thomas visited an estuary over a number of years which inspired his lovely and poignant river mouth (a handbook). The nerve-wracking confusion caused by driving toward, in, around, and out of roundabouts is artfully presented in Conor Wilson's concerning roundabouts.

JAB45 also contains some reviews of some lovely artists' books we recently received in the mail.

JAB45 Table of Contents