It's the type of exhibit you want to curl up with; pity you can't. On walls and pedestals, these books are more art than story.
Five southern Californians have contributed to the Artists Create Books exhibit in the Terhune Gallery at Owens Community College, on view through Dec. 14. Jean Clad, the show's curator, will give a free, public lecture at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow on the history of artists' books in the Owens library, followed by a reception in the gallery.
An intimate and increasingly popular genre, artists' books consider the whole book: shape, texture, binding, colors, and language. Many artists make paper and use their own presses.
Perhaps most provocative are the shredded Bibles of Linda Ekstrom. Endless Bible is a long, soft rope, made from the fine pages of an entire Bible. Ekstrom glued them into a continuous length, then twisted and twined. The work, she said, asserts the Bible's time-based nature and its continuum.
"She's forcing viewers to experience the Bible in a new form," said Clad of Seal Beach, Calif.
In Spherical Bible, the Bible is divided into five sections, according to orthodox and scholastic dictates. Pages are cut into switchbacks and rolled into five spheres on which fragments of text are legible.
For this show, she created a piece in conjunction with the Ohio Shakespeare Conference, which the college is hosting. She shredded the Bard's complete works into thin strips and placed them loosely in a mesh bag, prompting a passerby to say, "We thought that was packing stuff."
Mary Heebner's work is exquisite, notably her illustrations accompanying "Poems of the Sea" by the late Chilean writer Pablo Neruda. His poems in both English and Spanish are flanked by Heebner's Pacific Ocean-inspired pages. She saturated sheets of a thick, fibrous Japanese paper with watery bluish-gray pigment. Figures, reminiscent of wooden ship-figureheads emerge in earthy sienna colors.
Terry Braunstein is playful in Males and Females, a fun look at genes and mammalian reproduction.
Her intriguing carved books are old, thick, even musty-smelling volumes in which 100 or so pages are glued together to thicknesses of half an inch or so. Into the bundled pages she carved designs and created interior dioramas. In one, a woman gazes at a toy wagon and a little boy perches, remotely, on the edge of a dune.
Genie Shenk's dream logs are collaged, printed, and poetic esoterica. A pair of long accordian books have little pages, one for each day of January and March, 1997, and phrases such as "men march in," and "cage for divorces."
Sue Ann Robinson's eye candy includes The Walking Fools, Chapter 4, an accordian fold-out book with golden, collaged covers. Words brushed across the pages are the travelog of a mythical tribe. Her Quercus Psalter, about oak trees, was inspired by endangered Engelmann oaks of California.
"I am drawn to artists' books for their intimate, participatory, and portable nature;" Robinson writes. "They have potential to be 'a garden in the pocket' or 'a cathedral in the palm of the hand' "
"Artists Create Books" continues through Dec. 14 in the Terhune Gallery at Owens Community College's Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The exhibit moves to Tiffin University from Jan. 19 to Feb. 28, and Ohio Northern University, March 6 to 31. Information: 567-661-2721 or www.owens.edu.
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