- “Storylines” April 2 – May 2, 2021
- Highlighting Diane E. Jacobs and Susan Lowdermilk
- Bainbridge Arts & Crafts
- 151 Winslow Way East
- Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
- Gallery Open Monday – Saturday 10 – 6, Sunday 11 – 5 (206)-842-3132
This month’s exhibition at Bainbridge Arts & Crafts Gallery features nine well-respected book artists from the Pacific Northwest: Lynn Agnew, Sam Garriott Antonacci, Lisa Hasegawa, Robin Hruska, Diane Jacobs, M J Linford, Susan Lowdermilk, Catherine Alice Michaelis and Shu-Ju Wang. Not all “book artists” actually use words in their work, but the artists in this exhibition do integrate them. This is fitting because April is National Poetry Month, and whether they use poems or quotes from books, it is all about words and how they can inspire us. All the artists deserve more attention, but this column can only focus on one or two at a time.
Diane Jacobs offers four artist “books” in this group exhibition of nine wonderful book artists. From my view, the most remarkable of her works is “object n. object v.,” (n for noun, v for verb) an entombed or encased, reconfigured book sculpture. A short, round bamboo box that opens in half. The work was made for “Just One Look: An Exhibition of Contemporary Book Arts Exploring the Themes of Women and Vision,” based on literary sources for the University of Washington Libraries. Jacobs combined two literary works, each represented by one-half of this sculpture: “Helen of Troy: Beauty, Myth, Devastation” by Ruby Blondell, and “Amazons: Lives & Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World” by Adrienne Mayor. Once the short, round bamboo column is opened, you find two glass doors. Behind the “Helen of Troy” side are a stack of horizontal “shelves.” On the topside are reliefs of varied found objects, on the flip, underside of each shelf are quotes from the book. Each shelf is designed to be removed and considered. The objects vary, from tangerine peels, egg shells to porcelain figures and nest material. The other half column (“Amazons”), houses vertical slats, books, lined up. These may have selected book quotes, printed as pop-ups and molded paper forms. This seems to be a tour de force work to me, beautifully elegant, well arranged, and deep in its message….if you read the “book.”
I do recommend you go see the book, but should you want to see more of it, and hear Jacobs talk about it, you can go view two films. Jacobs was the Open Book Tour Artist #67 at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Introduced by Cynthia Sears, Jacobs then gave a one-hour talk about her work. “object n. object v.” was exhibited in BIMA’s ”Taking Issue” exhibition. While this talk dealt more with materials and techniques of several of her books, her substance is not to be missed. As she states in her artwork description, “These starkly opposite realities simultaneously obscure and magnify our present struggle for equality.”
She also talks about another wonderful work, “Nourish (All of Our Relations).” This unbound book holds eight, twice-folded printed papers in a collapsible bamboo folio. These are multi-colored prints, printed on both sides of transparent paper. The effects are subtle and add depth to their statements. Each page has an area of concern. As she writes, “Nourish celebrates the wonders of our natural and created world, but also acknowledges that beneath this beauty is the underpinning of environmental catastrophe.” Beyond the description in the BIMA Artist Talk video, another great video can be found on Erin Fletcher’s blog, “Fashion of the Hand (Exploring the Handmade Life).” Fletcher featured Jacobs as Artist of the Month. Scroll down viewing several pages of the book to find a Vimeo video at the bottom. In this 6.5-minute video version of Nourish Jacobs voices her concerns page by page, so it is quite valuable first-person history. She states hopefully, “We can become the spider that protects and weaves creative solutions.”
Susan Lowdermilk has six books in the exhibition. Nearly all are inspired by, or collaborate with, poems, from Shakespeare, Rumi and Dickinson to contemporary poet Jeanine Hathaway. Lowdermilk’s themes cover the environment, climate insecurity, and personal history.
In “I think that the Root of Wind is Water” Lowdermilk conspires with Emily Dickinson in drawing attention to Dickinson’s poem of the same name, visualizing its story of the interconnectedness of our environment, in her day and our time. It is rarely possible to view artist books on exhibit, but if you want to view all the pages of this book, you can. In a quick one-minute video you may see them all unfold with brief explanation by the artist.
On the personal story side, an early book “All My Relations” deals with Lowdermilk’s memories of her family stories and her younger years. In her statement, she waxes poetically when describing the background patterns of each page spread as they “suggest that we are walking through the doorways of memory into many rooms.” We have all experienced similar reflections of our past.
In another version of reflections on past life experience, Lowdermilk creates a wonderful circle of connection with a colleague in “XO, On what might have been our anniversary.” The book is inspired by a poem by a friend, poet Jeanine Hathaway, who wrote a poem based on an earlier art book of Lowdermilk’s, “Remembering, Forgetting.” What a wonderful circle of lives meaningfully touching lives, reflecting and growing from each other.
There are seven other book artists and many more “books” to explore in this “Storylines “ exhibition. And, as always, there are many books on view at the Sherry Grover Gallery at BIMA, its Open Book Tour talks , as well as classes to learn about creating your own art books at the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network, aka, BARN.
CLICK HERE TO READ OTHER FIRST FRIDAY FOCUS & EBB and FLOW ARTICLES BY BILL
ABOUT BILL BARAN-MICKLE: 2020 Island Treasure Awardee . Recently, Bill has enjoyed exhibiting in several international art biennial exhibitions. Of the three in which he has participated, he won Third Place for Sculpture from the European Confederation of Art Critics in the Chianciamo Biennale, at the Chianciano Art Museum in Italy in 2011, and First Place in Applied Arts in the London Biennale of 2013. In 2013 alone, he will have participated in eight exhibitions: from London to a two-person exhibition near home. In addition, Bill was asked to be a representative for CCAC’s exhibition celebrating 100 years of the Metals Department, and a mix of group shows in New York City, Miami, Seattle and Las Vegas. Bill is the designer of the 10 foot Equitorial Bowstring Sundial located at the Richie Observatory in Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island, WA and completed in 2015.